Geoff Liesik, All
A black-footed ferret checks out its new surroundings after being released into the wild in eastern Uintah County near the Utah-Colorado border Friday, Nov. 11, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY β€” Wetland habitat restoration at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in Utah was among 17 projects picked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to receive a boost of funding to aid in recovery efforts of endangered species.

In Utah and Colorado, a chunk of the $5.8 million will go to help the razorback sucker "nursery populations" in the Green River basin.

By modifying the wetlands in the two-state area, the federal agency is hoping the larval fish have a better chance of survival and less risk of predation by non-native fish. Few of the young survive to adulthood because they lack a quality nursery.

Distinct because of its hump, the razorback sucker is one of the largest suckers in North America and is endemic to the Colorado River and its tributaries. The fish has been protected under Utah law since 1973 and was added to the federal list of endangered species in 1991.

The money is being provided through the agency's Cooperative Recovery Initiative to address problems facing some of the country's most at-risk species.

β€œThe Cooperative Recovery Initiative capitalizes on the hands-on conservation expertise that is characteristic of our National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Dan Ashe, agency director.

"By focusing on efforts already underway at these sites and working across programs to fund these efforts, we maximize our conservation impact and greatly boost the odds of success for the species in greatest need,” Ashe said.

Elsewhere in the West, the service directed money to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge for the recovery of the black-footed ferret and augmented efforts in Wyoming at the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery for the Wyoming toad.

Once classified at "extinct in the wild," the toad is still considered to be one of the four endangered amphibian species in North America.


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