2009 Ag Water Summit recap

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

“How are we going to do that [produce 70% more food] without water?” Pat O’Toole asked a crowd of more than 100 Tuesday at the 2009 Ag Water Summit conducted at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. O’Toole, a southwest Wyoming rancher and farmer, is president of the Family Farm Alliance, an organization that represents farmers and ranchers in 17 western states. He set the tone for this year’s summit which also covered legislative and budgetary issues, optimizing irrigation water, updates on new water projects being planned and discussions on other ag and water issues. The annual event is presented by the Colorado Ag Water Alliance and the Colorado Ag Council.

O’Toole and his family have a cattle, sheep and hay operation along the Little Snake River north of Steamboat Springs and has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives. He is the fourth generation on the ranch where the family has had a long association with Colorado State University.

The Family Farm Alliance, he said, presents issues, many of them involving water, from the grassroots level all the way to Congress. Every state in the alliance, he said, has water issues and a major problem facing all those states is not just a population explosion in the future, but more of how much population growth can be absorbed.

More Colorado water coverage here.

Center for Biological Diversity files lawsuit to gain protection for the Colorado River cutthroat

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From the Courthouse News Service (Sonya Angelica Diehn):

The Center for Biological Diversity challenges a Bush-era policy under which the government considers only the current range in consideration of endangered status, which the Center calls “effectively chopping protection off at the knees.” It claims the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also dismissed the threats of non-native trout; persistence of only small, isolated cutthroat populations; and the cutthroat’s particular susceptibility to a parasitic disease, to deny it protection.

The Colorado cutthroat trout needs clean, cool mountain streams to survive. But 87 percent of this habitat has been lost to livestock grazing, logging, water diversion and dams, among other factors, the Center says. Steady introduction of non-native trout allows the sport fish to compete with local species for resources, eats the native young and threatens local trout by interbreeding, weakening the native population’s highly adapted ability to survive, the plaintiffs say. The species used to flourish in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and extreme northern New Mexico and Arizona. With 58 percent of the remaining range degraded, the cutthroat now survives only in small, fragmented populations. The species is particular susceptible to whirling disease, a transmittable parasite that causes nerve and bone damage and deformation, making infected fish swim in an erratic, corkscrew-like pattern…

[Plaintiff Noah Greenwald], who has a master’s degree in riparian ecology and submitted the petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service after studying the Colorado cutthroat trout for a year, added, “We hope the Obama administration will revoke the damaging Bush policy on ‘significant portion of range’ language, which misinterpreted the law in order to hobble protection, and reconsider listing the trout.” Lead counsel for the Center is James Dougherty of Washington, D.C.

More endangered species coverage here.