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Biological Resources

Virgin River Program

The Virgin River Program is a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal partners to balance human interests along the Virgin River with the conservation of this unique riverine ecosystem for the benefit of future generations.The goals of the Program are to protect, enhance, conserve, and recover native species in the Virgin River Basin while ensuring that water development can continue in a sustainable manner. The scope of the Program is broad, including species recovery, water management, floodplain protection, restoration, and community outreach.
Program activities include:
  • Enhancement and protection of floodplain and wildlife habitat
  • Guiding proactive water development strategies to allow continued economic growth and recovery of fish and wildlife habitat
  • Fish population monitoring and stocking
  • Non-native fish control
  • Providing water releases to enhance fish survival during low flow periods
  • Installing fish screens and providing fish passage on diversion structures
  • Removal of alien plant species that degrade the river corridors
  • Conducting educational outreach in local schools and communities
  • Developing watershed planning measures and river master plans within the basin to guide floodplain management, flood damage restoration, revegetation, and infrastructure protection
Resource Values: The Virgin River is the lifeblood of southwestern Utah, traveling for over 150 miles from its headwaters above Zion National Park into the Joshua tree flats of the Mohave Desert and Lake Meade in southern Nevada. It is responsible for cutting out the spectacular canyons and rock formations of the National Park and sustains growing populations in Washington County as well as abundant wildlife species along its entire length. Major tributaries managed under the Program include the Santa Clara River, North Creek, LaVerkin Creek, Ash Creek, Ft. Pearce Wash, and the Beaver Dam Wash. The river and its tributaries are characterized by huge fluctuations ranging from a warm trickle in the heat of the summer to a cold, raging torrent during spring runoff and flash floods. Fish and bird species of concern under the Program include the endangered Woundfin minnow, the endangered Virgin River chub, the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, the Virgin spinedace (federal and state conservation species), the flannelmouth sucker (state conservation species), the desert sucker (state species of concern), and the speckled dace.
Program Partners: Program partners are BLM, the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Utah Department of Natural Resource, the National Park Service, the Dixie Soil Conservation District, and the Washington County Farm Bureau. For more information visit the Virgin River Program website.

View of the Virgin River in Hurricane Cliffs area

View of Ft. Pearce Wash in Warner Valley area

View of Beaver Dam Wash within the Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area