South Platte Basin Roundtable meeting recap

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Judy Debus):

One of the projects funded by the roundtable is the shared vision planning (SVP) which is a collaborative approach to formulate, study and debate water management solutions by combining: traditional water resources planning, structured public participation, and collaborative computer modeling.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Montezuma Land Conservancy awarded accredited status from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

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Here’s the release from the Montezuma Land Conservancy:

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced today that Montezuma Land Conservancy has been awarded accredited status.

“Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.”

“Montezuma Land Conservancy’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation,” said David Nichols, Executive Director “The rigorous accreditation process has both certified the quality of our past work and aided us in continuing to improve the quality of our current conservation work. It has also helped us to ensure, to an even greater extent than before, the permanence of all the conservation easements we hold.”

Montezuma Land Conservancy is a local non-profit organization founded in 1998. It exists to permanently protect important open lands – in partnership with landowners – in order to conserve agricultural, natural, and scenic open space resources in Montezuma and Dolores Counties. Since its inception, the conservancy has partnered in the creation of 58 conservation easements protecting over 17,000 acres in the two counties.

Montezuma Land Conservancy was one of 11 land trusts awarded accreditation this March. These land trusts join 82 other land trusts from across the country that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. Accredited land trusts are able to display a seal indicating to the public that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance established in 2006, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. The Alliance, of which Montezuma Land Conservancy is a member, is a national conservation group based in Washington, D.C. that works to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America.

Nichols concluded, “Achieving the right to use the accreditation seal provides tangible assurance to our members, easement donors, and financial contributors that the trust and financial support they have invested in the Montezuma Land Conservancy has not been misplaced.”

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that landowners use to protect important agricultural land, wildlife habitat, and scenic open space by limiting subdivision and residential development. Lands remain in private ownership and management, and public access is not granted. Financial benefits can include reduction in state, federal, and estate taxes and continued agricultural property tax status. In certain cases, landowners may receive cash for protecting their land. For more information, contact the Montezuma Land Conservancy at 565-1664 or info@montezumalandconservancy.org

Thanks to the Cortez Journal for the heads up.

More conservation easements coverage here and here.

Mesa County: Commissioners approve contract for first phase of wastewater project for Whitewater

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Mike Wiggins):

County commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland on Monday approved a $2.1 million contract with Mendez Inc. of Grand Junction to complete the first phase of a three-phase sewer line project from Whitewater to the Clifton Sanitation District, 3217 D Road. Commissioner Steve Acquafresca was absent from the meeting…

The first phase of the project, which should be completed early next year, covers three miles of sewer line to be built from the entrance to the Western Colorado Dragway, just north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and 32 Road, to the intersection of 32 and C 1/2 roads. County Senior Engineer Julie Constan said the county received nine bids for the first phase, including six from Front Range firms. The bid from Mendez, which was the lowest, came in nearly $900,000 below the county’s estimated project cost, an indication of how hungry the recession has made contractors for work.

More wastewater coverage here.

SB 10-181 (Municipal Authority To Lease Land) passes Senate Local Government and Energy Committee

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

[SB 10-181] (pdf) would allow Walsenburg and about 150 other statutory cities and towns in Colorado to lease the land that they own with water rights. Under current law, only home-rule municipalities have that authority. In Walsenburg’s case, the benefits of SB181 are on its doorstep. A proposed 100-tower wind farm has offered to lease 2,300 acres of land in Huerfano County owned by the city of Walsenburg. The wind farm proposed by Denver-based Viento Claro Energy would be built by Torch Renewable Energy. Viento Claro is eyeing a $23 million investment on the land owned by Walsenburg and adjacent property owners. If Walsenburg were allowed to lease the land to Viento Claro, the city would realize about $11 million in royalties over a 25-year span, according to Viento Claro…

Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, and Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, are sponsoring the bill…

And it’s not just Walsenburg that would benefit, according to the city attorney, Dan Hyatt, who also represents the city of Rocky Ford. Hyatt said Rocky Ford — another statutory city — also has land with water rights that could generate long-term revenue if it were allowed to lease it. “The potential benefit of this bill is immense,” said Geoff Wilson of the Colorado Municipal League. Next, the bill will be placed on the consent calendar in the Senate for preliminary approval.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Colorado State Parks boating and invasive mussel inspection information

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From The Denver Post:

Current boat inspection hours for other eastern Colorado reservoirs administered by Colorado State Parks are:

Cherry Creek Reservoir: Through April, the east ramp will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both ramps will be open Friday through Sunday. Full operation resumes May 1.
Barr Lake: Through April, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Drop boxes for pre-inspection seals are available at the ramp and may be used at other times. Boat motors cannot exceed 10 horsepower.
Boyd Lake: Through April, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, main ramp only. Pre-inspection seal drop boxes available at the ramp at other times.
Jackson Lake: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Pre-inspection seals may be used at other times.
North Sterling Reservoir: Opens to boating April 15.
Lake Pueblo: Through April 14, 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. No loading or unloading of boats permitted after hours.
Trinidad Lake: Beginning April 1, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
John Martin Reservoir: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Lathrop State Park: Both lakes closed to trailered boats until the water level in Martin Reservoir returns to its normal level.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“Based on what we’ve seen in other parts of the country, it can take anywhere from three to five years after initial introduction, before adult populations boom and mussels start colonizing on infrastructure or before shells are found along shorelines,” said Jerry Neal, spokesman for the DOW.

First found in Lake Pueblo in late 2007, signs of invasive mussels popped up at six other reservoirs in the state in 2008. It appeared the zebra and the closely related quagga mussels would follow the pattern of rapid spread seen in other states. In response, the state launched an aggressive boat inspection and decontamination program, along with boater education and risk assessment programs that were meant to slow down that spread. In 2009, the only state-wide evidence of invasive mussels was found at Lake Pueblo, despite more than 400,000 boat inspections, 3,300 decontamination procedures and research at 100 lakes or reservoirs. Even at Pueblo, only the larvae, called veligers, were found last year. No live mussels have yet been found within the state, although 19 boats with attached mussels were intercepted coming into the state last year…

Weather could have played a part in the failure to detect mussels at higher elevation lakes after positive results in 2008, Neal said. “In reservoirs above 7,000 feet, cooler water temperatures may cause a considerable fluctuation in the number of veligers produced from year to year,” Neal said. “We had an unusually cool, wet spring and summer in 2009 which may have resulted in a much shorter breeding season for the mussels and fewer veligers.”[…]

OTHER PESTS

Zebra and quagga mussels can clog pipelines, ruin beaches and deplete nutrients in lakes, but are not the only aquatic pests that concern Colorado Division of Wildlife officials. Among the others:

RUSTY CRAYFISH

Native to the Ohio River basin, the crayfish are more aggressive than native species, colonize and can diminish the native fish population. They were found for the first time last year on the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs.

NEW ZEALAND MUD SNAILS

The tiny snails can reach concentrations of 500,000 per square yard and out-compete native food sources for fish. They have been found at one site on the Green River and two sites in the South Platte basin and monitored since 2004.

EURASIAN MILFOIL

An aquatic weed, it takes over lakes under certain conditions, choking out most other forms of life. So far, the state has confirmed 15 exotic milfoil sites, five native (northern milfoil) and two hybrid sites. A management program began in 2005.

PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE

A weed that grows in marshy areas or wetlands, it crowds out native or beneficial plants. It is controlled to protect waterfowl habitat and maintain flows. In Colorado, 29 cities and counties participate in a management program started in the South Platte basin in 1993.

More invasive species coverage here and here.