PROVO, Utah - A federal restoration project is underway that will change where the Provo River empties into Utah Lake.
The project is part of a plan to save the endangered June sucker fish.
The Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission said the species has suffered since the 1980’s.
The Provo River Delta Restoration project focuses on a mile-long section of the river, which over time has been narrowed to one outlet. The goal is to spread the water out into a more natural delta.
“Rivers normally have deltas where they get down towards the mouth of the channel, where they go into the lake, or wherever they’re discharging into,” said Greg Beckstrom, Provo City's deputy public works director. “[The] Provo River was originally that way.”
Moving a river is not an easy task, and last year the Mitigation Commission adopted a plan for restoration. They’re currently in the process of acquiring land to make it a reality.
The new delta will spread out over hundreds of feet north of Utah Lake State Park. Beckstrom said that will create a more natural environment for the June sucker to thrive in.
“It now is in a fairly well-defined, closed channel, but that does not accommodate the sort of environment, and particularly vegetation, that is necessary for the rearing of the June sucker fish," Beckstrom said.
While Provo City is not directly a part of the project, they’re following it closely because diverting the river will affect the trail system they have that runs alongside it. The Mitigation Commission has guaranteed water will still flow through the original channel. They will also create new jogging paths and bridges through the new delta area.
“We’ve striven in working them to make sure that that character of the lower Provo River will be maintained,” Beckstrom said. “Even after most of the water is diverted into the new delta project.”