Beaver Brook Watershed update

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The U.S. Forest Service is rolling the Beaver Brook watershed into the Roosevelt and Arapahoe national forests. Here’s a report from Vicky Gits writing for the Clear Creek Courant. From the article:

The U.S. Forest Service held a ribbon-cutting ceremony announcing that the Beaver Brook Watershed is officially part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. After recently signing a deal for 900 acres previously owned by Clear Creek Open Space, the Forest Service controls 4,000 acres from Mount Evans Wilderness to Noble and Elk meadows, about 4 miles west of Highway 74 on Highway 103. The property begins at the old Squaw Pass gate.

From the watershed plan (pdf):

Beaver Brook Watershed is a unique open space in the Front
Range in that it is one of the last remaining undeveloped
subalpine forests. Its wildflower-filled meadows, bubbling
streams bounded by lush vegetation, forested slopes, abundant
wildlife, and dramatic rock outcroppings are beloved to many
people. Only 3.5 miles west on Squaw Pass Road from Route
74 in Bergen Park, it consists of 1,442 acres. Because of its
proximity to Evergreen and the Denver metropolitan area, it is
easily accessible to visitors. See Map 1, Open Space Purchase.

Undecreed ponds are a target in El Paso County

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Bill Vogrin):

Already this year, Brian Sutton, water commissioner for the area that includes El Paso County, has opened cases against 15 or so ponds created either by the diversion of creek or river water, or well water. He said there may be 1,000 similar ponds in the area and he intends to bring every one of them into compliance. Sutton said he’s not trying to ruin anyone’s business or home landscaping. He’s just enforcing the law. “We’re talking about channel reservoirs that have a direct impact on stream flows,” Sutton said. “This is a big issue. I don’t want to see these ponds go. But there are people downstream who have senior water rights and they get priority. The water is for farmers downstream.”

More water law coverage here.

Runoff news

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From The Mountain Mail (Ron Sering):

The Arkansas River reached its low summer flow at about 235 cubic feet per second late Friday at the Wellsville gauge – the lowest since March…Although low water makes boating difficult, “This is actually very favorable for the fish,” Greg Policky, aquatic biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said. “They don’t have to fight the current.” Low water enables fish to feed efficiently, he said and added it is especially favorable for brown trout. “It will put them in good shape for the fall spawning season. Flow between 250-400 cfs is optimum for fishing,” Policky said.”

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Tamarisk control in Montezuma County

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Here’s an update about Tamarisk control in Montezuma County, from Kristen Plank writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

For the past two weeks, the tamarisk leaf beetle has been chowing down on the area’s tamarisk, cropping up in sporadic locations from McElmo Canyon clear across the county…

Killing off an entire tamarisk typically takes a few seasons of defoliation, and beetles often will leave some of the leaves intact on each plant. “We really don’t know how long it will take for all of a tamarisk to be gone, but it’s not realistic to think that beetles are going to get it all,” Kolegas said. “Beetles only eat as much as they can. They want to sustain their population.” Which is why other efforts to rid the area of the water-loving weed, like native revegetation, will still occur. But most of the local tamarisk eradication efforts will be drastically reduced, Downs said. “We’re putting tamarisk removal on hold for now,” she said. “We’re going to finish the projects we’ve already started, and we’re going to continue heavily with revegetation efforts. “We want to get willows and cottonwoods and box elders in the area before the tamarisk is completely dead.”

How the bugs came into the county is unknown, but tamarisk beetles were released in Moab, Utah, and other parts of Colorado, Downs said. Reasons for not releasing the insect prior to now was due mostly to federal concerns for the southwest willow flycatcher, an endangered bird. The flycatcher, which used to nest in willows along riverbanks, now nests in tamarisk.

For residents interested in learning more about the tamarisk leaf beetle’s progress, the district will hold a public information meeting in conjunction with the Tamarisk Coalition at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 in Empire Electric’s Calvin Denton room, 801 N. Broadway, Cortez. The leaf beetle will go dormant in early October, but residents wishing to report a known population or to ask questions can call D-TAG and the Dolores Soil Conservation District at 565-9045.

More Tamarisk coverage here.

Colorado River management

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The recent visit by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to the Arkansas Valley prompted a discussion of the future management of the Colorado River. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Parks Service is apparently concerned about the levels at Lake Mead, which is a popular recreation area as well as a source of water supply and electric power for California, Arizona and Nevada. Prolonged drought and increased demand have caused levels to drop and it can cost millions of dollars to move marinas on the lakes. The service has asked for more authority on the operation of Glen Canyon Dam, which releases water from Lake Powell through the Grand Canyon and into Lake Mead. The states are objecting to broadening the authority under past acts of Congress and Interior policies. “The interim guidelines [for drought managment] offer a secure foundation on which to build the important initiatives necessary to achieve greater flexibility in the development and management of the Colorado River water supply,” the states wrote in the letter.

The Arkansas Basin imports an average of about 131,000 acre-feet from the Western Slope each year, or about 18 percent of the supply of water when measured against the high point of flows on the Arkansas River at Avondale. The amount varies widely, however, and Front Range water users are wary about what could happen if there were a call on the river from downstream states.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is looking at studies both to quantify how much Colorado River water is still available to use within the state and to determine which rights would be curtailed if the state was limited in how much water it could divert. “We, as a state, need to come to a better understanding of what water is available under what conditions,” [Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works] said. “If there is a call on the Colorado River, how do we manage the call?”

Such a call would not be as simple as a traditional river call in Colorado, where junior diverters on one stream are shut off. The Colorado River system is complex, with some reaches that are fully appropriated, reaches where additional water is used to protect endangered species and others that have never been administered under state water laws. Transmountain diversions are further complicated by the need to maintain certain flows downstream. In some years, not all of the water called for in a decree can be taken, while in some emergency situations the transmountain diverters have been asked to take even more water to prevent flooding on the Western Slope.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.