San Miguel County commissioners meet to discuss San Miguel River instream flows

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From The Norwood News (Ellen Metrick):

San Miguel County Commissioners met in Norwood last week to decide what kind of letter to send to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, asking for a delay in filing for instream flow appropriations on the San Miguel River. The water would be set aside to meet habitat requirements for threatened native fish species — flannelmouth sucker, bluehead sucker, and roundtail chub — and to preserve a section of the San Miguel River ecosystem…

Originally, San Miguel County commissioners had been looking at two potential actions: To support CWCB’s declaration go to water court in January 2010, but have December as the actual appropriation date; or, to ask CWCB to wait until March to declare, which would mean the hearing process would begin in July, giving public the first half of 2010 to assess needs and file for appropriations. The January 2011 appropriation filing date was added to the options after the meeting began. Mark Uppendahl, DOW In-Stream Flow Program coordinator, stated that the “DOW is in a conservation management plan to prevent these species from federal listing … 11cfs provides minimal depths and the fish may not migrate or survive.”[…]

Uppendahl said that if the threatened species are not protected, there could be federal intervention. He said, “It would be hard to say what would happen then.” Uppendahl listed possibilities that ranged from water curtailment to preservation of the entire hydrology system, and possible curtailment of future diversion projects.

Approximately 70 people attended the meeting, including Montrose County Commissioners David White and Ron Henderson, State Senator Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus), Southwest Water Conservation Board members, Sheep Mountain Alliance representatives, and TelSki CEO Dave Riley. In the end, SMC commissioners voted two to one to ask CWCB to hold off until December 2011. Commissioner Joan May wanted to ask them to file mid-year 2010. After voting, Commissioner Fischer said, “But, we have to see progress, not just lip service to a process that never really happens.”

More San Miguel Watershed coverage here and here.

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