CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| News Release
June 20, 2005
Contact: Michelle Harrington, Rivers Program Director, 602-628-9909
FOSSIL CREEK RESTORATION CELEBRATED - WILD AND SCENIC DESIGNATION NEXT
Phoenix--On Saturday, June 18th, 2005, a long-fought battle came to an end as Arizona Public Service Company (APS) officially decommissioned two small hydroelectric power plants and returned the flows of Fossil Creek to the streambed. For nearly 100 years, the water was diverted from just ½-mile below the headwater springs into a 14-mile flume that left the stream just a trickle during the driest times of the year.
This momentous occasion was met by the cheers of Center for Biological Diversity members and friends who have been vigilant in their efforts to restore Fossil Creek to its previous splendor. Joining together on the banks of the creek to celebrate their triumph, the crowd was thrilled as the waters rose over the feet of world-renowned environmental songwriter Dana Lyons’ feet during a final verse of song. A Public Broadcasting Service documentary film crew had to maneuver quickly to avoid getting wet.
Only after several years of intense public pressure, legal notices, and protracted negotiations did APS determine to decommission the environmentally destructive Irving and Childs power plants. The Yavapai-Apache Nation, American Rivers, Arizona Riparian Council, Center for Biological Diversity, The Nature Conservancy, and Northern Arizona Audubon Society were signatories to a Settlement Agreement with APS finalized in 2000. Through the National Environmental Policy Act process, agencies, environmental groups and individuals were able to exchange ideas and scientific information that culminated in this unprecedented event.
Last fall, over a hundred biologists and volunteers worked together to salvage the native fish in Fossil Creek—which harbors the best assemblage of native fish in the state. Roundtail chub, speckled dace, longfin dace, Sonoran sucker, and desert sucker no longer have to compete with or be preyed upon by exotic fish species. Further restoration and reintroduction activities will occur in the future, returning Colorado pikeminnow, Gila topminnow, desert pupfish, loach minnow and razorback sucker to their historic home.
The Center for Biological Diversity thanks everyone who has contributed towards the restoration and protection of Fossil Creek. We thank Senator McCain for his forward thinking and call upon our members and others to support the Wild and Scenic River designation for Fossil Creek. The return of this stream, its highly mineralized waters and travertine deposits, and its native fish will combine for a unique recreational experience for Arizonans and tourists, and restores hope for the future of our prized natural resources.