Richardson seeks to settle minnow fight

July 21, 2003 at 4:20 PM

SANTA FE, N.M., July 21 (UPI) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has launched talks aimed at settling the legal battle over the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow.

Richardson revealed Monday that members of his staff have been meeting since late June with representatives of the attorney general, farmers, the city of Albuquerque, water conservation groups and environmentalists.

"We are trying to put together a plan that can protect New Mexico water

rights, allow for long-term economic growth and address the serious concerns

of all parties," Richardson said in a statement.

The talks were initiated after a federal appeals court ruled that federal agencies could take San Juan-Chama Diversion Project water and Rio Grande water to preserve the endangered minnow. Albuquerque has future plans for the San Juan-Chama water.

Richardson said he revealed the talks in hope that it would "soften the debate" over federal legislation introduced recently by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to make the San Juan-Chama water immune from seizure.

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