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Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
Federal Judge Rules in Favor of MRGCD in Silvery Minnow Case
An Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed by the WildEarth Guardians (WEG) against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alleging that those agencies were not consulting with regard to actions needed to avoid jeopardy to the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow (RGSM). A motion to dismiss by the agencies has been ruled upon by United States District Judge, Robert Brack.
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) joined the lawsuit as an intervenor when WEG claimed in its suit that the BOR should be regulating the MRGCD when it came to water delivery to farmers in the middle Rio Grande valley.
“The Federal Judge in this case recognized that the Conservancy District is doing its job in accordance with all laws and regulations.” says MRGCD CEO/Chief Engineer Mike Hamman. “The District will continue to work with all partner agencies in an attempt to secure the future of the Minnow while continuing our mission of supplying water to our irrigators.”
Judge Brack also ruled that how Federal agencies exercise their discretion in developing a biological assessment with regard to species management of the RGSM was not something over which the Federal Court has jurisdiction. The result was to dismiss those aspects of the case having to do with delivery of water by the MRGCD to irrigators.
The judge did, however, refuse to dismiss those aspects of the case relating to actions of the Federal agencies in implementing an existing biological opinion from 2003. Those issues will likely be moot because a new biological opinion will be issued in early 2016. The judge also refused to dismiss WEG’s claims that the Corps of Engineers is violating the ESA by not consulting on its own water operations.
Read the full versions of the court ruling below.
WEG vs USBOR, USACE, MRGCD - Document 69
WEG vs USBOR, USACE, MRGCD - Document 70
Board of Directors Passes Resolution Adopting New Measure for 2015 Silvery Minnow Biological Assessment
The Board of Directors approved Resolution M-07-13-15-139 on Monday, July 13, 2015 at its regularly scheduled meeting.
The Resolution adopts additional and offsetting measures and conservation measures for inclusion in the 2015 Biological Assessment re-submittal.
Beginning August 10, 2015, the MRGCD Board of Directors meetings will begin at 3:00 p.m.
The Board approved the change on a unanimous vote at its July 13 meeting.
Meeting days will remain the same; the 2nd and fourth Monday of each month.
“Dog Biscuit Hill” Designed as Part of Rio Grande Valley State Park
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board of Directors are honoring a former Albuquerque City Councilor and Bernalillo County Commissioner by designating the Atrisco Heading Parcel as the Patrick J. Baca Open Space Unit
. This popular access point to the Bosque is also now included as the newest 12 acres of the Rio Grande Valley State Park.
At its regularly scheduled meeting, April 27, 2015, the Board of Directors, by way of resolution, designated the parcel, locally referred to as “Dog Biscuit Hill”, in honor of the late Patrick J. Baca, a former public servant and life-long resident of the Duke City.
“It is a privilege to honor Mr. Baca and his years of dedication to the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and the Great State of New Mexico.” says MRGCD Board Chairman Derrick J. Lente. “Now everyone can continue to enjoy our great Bosque while remembering this great man.”
The Patrick J. Baca Open Space Unit of the Rio Grande Valley State Park will be retained and owned by the MRGCD but will be maintained and managed for conservation, education, and recreation by the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division under the policies of the Rio Grande Valley State Park Management Plan and Joint Powers Agreement.
Read full resolution (here)
Board of Directors Sets Water Bank Lease Rates
At a Special Meeting, the MRGCD Board of Directors set the Water Bank lease rates for the 2015 irrigation season.
On a 7-0 vote, the board approved an administrative rate of $100, a water lease rate of $50/acre and a water service charge of $31/acre. These rates remain unchanged from 2014. The administrative fee can cover a 5-year period providing there are no changes by the land owner to any provisions in the Water Bank Lease.
The District will begin charging the canal system in preparation for the 2015 irrigation season, March 1.