Snowpack news

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La Niña has settled in. Here’s a report from The Mountain Mail (Paul Goetz). From the article:

Defined as cooler than normal ocean surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, La Niña impacts weather globally. Locally, La Niña began in late December, but it is too early to know how strong the event will be or how long it will last, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters said. For the next few months, La Niña is expected to cause milder and drier than average weather in southeastern and southwestern states. “This La Niña is trending warmer temperature and dryer weather for the Eastern Slope of the Continental Divide,” Joe Ceru, Pueblo forecast center meteorologist, said…

A normal to low water season is good for the rafting business too, Bob Hamel, owner of Arkansas River Tours in Cotopaxi said. “Normal water is better than big water. We won’t have the scare factor,” Hamel said. “We have a good snowpack up high and reservoirs are up. We’re at 100 percent of average where we need to be.”

Interior pulls Bush eleventh hour oil shale leases

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Reuters: “A Bush administration plan for demonstration oil shale leases will be scrapped because the proposal is flawed and royalties to the government are too low, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday. ‘If oil shale technology proves to be viable on a commercial scale, taxpayers should get a fair rate of return from their resource,’ he told reporters on a teleconference.”

More coverage from the Salt Lake Tribune (Patty Henetz):

Making good on a promise he made a week before President Barack Obama took office, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday tossed out a Bush administration move to speed oil-shale development on public land in Utah and Colorado. During a teleconference, Salazar called the Bush rule one of many flawed last-minute policies “that don’t pass the smell test.” Earlier this month, the new Interior boss shelved leases for oil and gas drilling near national parks in Utah. Wednesday’s announcement means any additional research-and-development leases the U.S. Bureau of Management may have offered after mid-January won’t go forward. Under the Bush regulation, the leases would have allowed substantially more acreage and set royalties at 5 percent, a figure Salazar said would sell taxpayers short.

More coverage from the Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

Yet another blow was delivered to Utah’s oil industry Wednesday by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with his announcement that he is cancelling a second round of offering oil shale research and development leases on federal land in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado…

The decision marks the second time Salazar has reversed a decision of the previous administration involving Utah’s public lands. Earlier, he rescinded bids made on 77 parcels of Bureau of Land Management land for potential oil and gas development offered at a December auction in Salt Lake City. He characterized the offering of the bids in much the same way, saying the Bush administration rushed headlong into the process in the waning days of the administration without proper review. Some of the parcels, he said, were located in close proximity to many Utah landmarks, including Canyonlands and Arches national parks…

Steve Bloch, attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, lauded Salazar’s decision. “What he is proposing makes a lot of sense, and that is not to rush ahead pell-mell and offer large swaths of land until companies can affirmatively demonstrate that shale development is economically feasible and can be done in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities snags a permit from Fremont County commissioners

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From (David Ortiviz): ”
the Fremont County route is the utility’s alternate choice. Colorado Springs Utilities says it would cost up to $100 million less to build the pipeline from the Pueblo reservoir. ‘We think there’s some real benefits from coming out of the reservoir, but again we plan, if we can’t work out permit conditions that work for Colorado Springs we’re going to build a project in Fremont County off the river,’ said John Fredell, project manager for the Southern Delivery System.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Moffat County signs on with CWCB to study effects of coalbed methane extraction on groundwater

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From the Craig Daily Press (Collin Smith): “County officials are aware of issues surrounding coal-bed methane extraction in the San Juan, Raton and Piceance basins. The development has been linked to drying up water wells and streams in other places across Colorado and the Rocky Mountain west, and local officials want to be proactive before potential problems arise. With that in mind, the Moffat County Commission unanimously approved signing a grant contract with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to survey local groundwater and aquifer conditions before widespread coal-bed methane development occurs locally.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Basalt town council favors new kayak park

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From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith): “The Basalt Town Council likes the idea of two kayak play waves in the Roaring Fork River and several overhanging decks on a steep section of riverbank alongside upper Two Rivers Road.

“The features in the river and the cantilevered decks above the river would be built across from the entrance to the Elk Run neighborhood and just downstream of Fisherman’s Park, where today there is a small parking lot and bathrooms.

“Six of the seven Basalt council members agreed the kayak park was a good idea after hearing it would help protect water rights, stabilize the riverbank, attract kayakers, create a riverside park and slow down traffic near local schools and neighborhoods.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.