Taylor River rafting rift negotiations recap

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From The Crested Butte News (Seth Mensing):

Meetings between Three Rivers Outfitters, Scenic River Tours and the Wilder resumed Thursday, April 22 at the request of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and are still ongoing with a possible agreement that would let boaters and anglers share a two-mile stretch of the river. That is the stick and carrot keeping both sides going. Three Rivers and Scenic River, which are the only two commercial companies running the Taylor, have said that banning them from a two-mile section of water will lead them to financial ruin. But according to Forest Service records obtained by Dick Bratton, a partner with the Gunnison law firm Bratton, Hill, Wilderson & Lock, which is representing the developers of the exclusive Wilder on the Taylor subdivision, Three Rivers only took 62 clients on the disputed section of river last year.

And Brad Roberts, co-owner of Harmel’s Resort just upstream from the Wilder property, isn’t shy about placing the blame for the dispute squarely on the shoulders of Scenic River Tours. “Scenic River Tours has this obnoxious trespassing thing,” Roberts says.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here. More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Pueblo County: Will land under the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Company be put back in production?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Denver businessman [John McKowen] has purchased the vast majority of shares of the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Co. with an eye toward putting thousands of acres back into crop production. Under a $30 million plan, McKowen wants to fix Cucharas Reservoir, strengthen water rights and improve the value of farmland in southern Pueblo County. McKowen also intends to develop a 100-megawatt solar array as a secondary piece of the project. “Our intent is to rebuild the dam at Cucharas Reservoir, continue with the ditch and reintroduce agriculture to the area,” said McKowen, 60, chairman and CEO of the Two Rivers Water Co. “It would be a shame to see the land go to waste.”[…]

The centerpiece of the project, however, is the rehabilitation of Cucharas Reservoir, which could be done in early 2011. McKowen is working with ASI Constructors of Pueblo West to build a roller-compacted concrete dam just downstream of the existing dam. GEI consultants is doing the engineering work for the project. Because of sedimentation, the capacity of the new dam would be about 50,000 acre-feet, compared to about 10,000 acre-feet at present. As of this week, it was storing just 2,000 acre-feet. The project will cost about $30 million over the first five years, with possibly $100 million in eventual investment. The project also has a secondary component to develop a 100-megawatt solar energy array on land in the area that McKowen intends to buy. McKowen is putting up much of the capital himself, as he has in past business ventures, but will seek other investors.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

It’s spring — the bears are waking up

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

At this time of year, bears are looking for new plant growth and fresh grass to eat to help them restart their digestive systems. But once they are up and running, bears are opportunistic feeders and will exploit any available food supply, including garbage, pet food, bird seed, and home and restaurant table scraps. Bears that become habituated to human food sources can be dangerous and often must be euthanized. Because they are large omnivores, bears are nearly always on a search for food. Wild foods are essential for bears — berries, insects, acorns, plants and carrion. But when people fail to store garbage, pet food or bird feeders properly, bears will find those sources and cause conflicts in residential and business areas. In Colorado, bears are ubiquitous from the Front Range across the Western Slope. Although sightings of grizzly bears are reported on rare occasion in the Centennial State, North American black bears (Ursus americanus) are the only bear species known to have established Colorado populations. Their preferred habitats are areas with aspen trees and oak brush.

More coverage from the Telluride Daily Planet (Kathrine Warren):

“We have a lot of bears moving around,” said Division of Wildlife Spokesman Joe Lewandowski. They’re on the move for food of any kind. These large omnivores usually eat new plant growth, fresh grass to help restart their digestive systems, berries, insects and acorn forbs. Lewandowski said the DOW wants to remind people that they’ll start wandering around looking for food of any kind, including trash.

Salida: FIBArk (June 17-20) organizers are calling for volunteer help

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From Citizen Team via the Salida Citizen:

It’s hard to believe FIBArk is a little over a month away! The FIBArk Board has been hard at work planning this year’s festival, and it’s gonna be the best yet! A great way to give back to this fabulous, FREE festival is to volunteer. We can use people of all shapes and sizes, for jobs big and small. If you have volunteered in the past, or are contemplating helping out this year, we would love to hear from you! Jobs include everything from set-up to take-down, event registration, information booth, pouring beer, educating people at recycling and compost stations, or whatever floats your boat! Grab a friend or two and do it together! Shifts range from two hours to however long you’d like to help us out. For those that want to help staff the New Belgium Brewery beer tent, contact Shannon at 719-221-1988, or email shannon@summitmobility.com. For all other aspects of volunteering, please call Kate at 719-207-2323 or email kateyost@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you! Festival dates are June 17–20, 2010.

More FIBArk coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: Recent storms help snowpack

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Recent snows have left a lot of snow in the lower levels of the northern mountains — which tends to melt quickly once spring finally gets a grip on things — but higher level fields continued a season-long trend of trailing the long-term average as well as last year’s readings. Because the snow is not that deep at lower levels, the melt-off later this spring is not anticipated to bring much threat for flooding — unless, of course, it is combined with heavy rains. And those heavy rains of the past week, expected to continue into the first part of next week, go a long way in reducing concerns for a lack of water, especially for farmers…

John Fusaro and Todd Boldt with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Fort Collins, took the survey earlier this week in the Big Thompson and Poudre Canyons, where two rivers bring water out of the mountains and empty into the South Platte River. Fusaro said there were about 2 inches of new snow in the lower levels of the canyons, and seven inches of new snow at the summit of Cameron Pass in the Poudre Canyon. He estimated there were maybe 15 inches of new snow in the upper regions of the canyons since the last survey in late February. “But the density wasn’t there. That’s been a common theme all year long. There just wasn’t much water in the snow,” Fusaro said. “It just wasn’t a typical April snow survey, but who knows? There have been years when we’ve seen 2 feet of new snow in the mountains in May. Maybe it’s going to be one of those years.”

Snowmass attorney Alan Schwartz named to Great Outdoors Colorado board

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Schwartz has committed much of his career to land preservation and conservation of natural resources, which Gov. Bill Ritter said will suit him well on the 17-member board that determines how a portion of lottery proceeds will be used…

Schwartz has served on the boards of the Colorado Conservation Trust and the Rocky Mountain chapter of Environmental Defense. He helped develop Boulder’s growth-management plan and represented several Colorado municipalities during development of their land-use plans.

More conservation coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Colorado Land Reclamation Board uranium production rules public meeting recap

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From the North Forty News (Dan MacArthur):

Despite the intensity of opposition, just 26 residents registered their concerns at the April public hearing scheduled from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a Loveland hotel’s conference hall capable of seating more than 100. The lack of testimony prompted the board to cut the session short at 6:30 p.m. The hearing may have been subdued in part because the board already had received some 3,500 written comments, which are posted on the board’s web site.

Speakers urged the board to affirm proposed regulations developed to reflect the intent of three bills approved by the legislature applying to hard-rock and in situ uranium mining. Notably, the regulations require in situ mine applicants to establish a baseline of existing conditions for ongoing monitoring of surface and groundwater. The state can hire an independent agency at the applicant’s expense to oversee development of such plans. Reclamation to those baseline standards must be completed within five years following the mining of each phase. Any effect on groundwater beyond the mined land that fails to meet established standards could require immediate reclamation.

Jay Davis, a Weld County resident who lives next to the proposed Centennial Mine project, urged the board to adopt the rules as proposed and resist any attempts to dilute them. “Colorado water is far too valuable to be compromised from being used as a mining tool,” he said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Energy policy — geothermal: Governor Ritter signs SB 10-174 (Promote Geothermal Energy Development)

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Here’s the release from the Governor’s office (Megan Castle/Evan Dreyer):


Gov. Ritter was joined today by Sen. Gail Schwartz and local officials at the dedication of the new Touber Building, named after former Salida Mayor Edward Touber. The City of Salida and Chaffee County will use this historic building for office space.

“The Touber Building is a shining example of the success that can happen when local and state governments and public and private entities pool their collective financial and creative resources,” said Gov. Ritter. “I know the struggles of Chaffee County, along with the rest of the state and the nation, have not been easy. Partnering together to build a complex like this that will house both city and county community services helps from a financial standpoint. Also, it is a 21st century solution towards building sustainable communities. The state was honored to partner with you on this solution.”

Immediately following the Touber Building dedication ceremony, Gov. Ritter signed Senate Bill [10-174] (pdf), sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz and Reps. Christine Scanlan and Tom Massey, which promotes geothermal energy in Colorado.

“Senate Bill 174 will help Colorado to begin to realize the potential of geothermal energy,” Gov. Ritter said. “Geothermal is a great clean renewable energy source, that can be a base load provider and help to bring the benefits of the New Energy Economy to rural Colorado.”

“Geothermal energy will diversify Colorado’s energy portfolio. This bill will improve cooperation between the federal, state, and local governments, strengthen Colorado’s energy sector, and create jobs for Coloradans,” Sen. Schwartz said. “I would like to thank Chaffee County for their efforts on this bill and the broader water community for the work on protecting existing geothermal water rights and those in the future.”

“Geothermal is an exciting clean energy movement with the potential to exceed even solar and wind in supplying the US’s electricity needs in the future. In fact, the state Capitol will be moving towards using it next year for the building’s energy needs,” said Rep. Scanlan. “I am pleased that we have made a commitment to strengthen this energy sector.”

For a complete list of Gov. Ritter’s 2010 legislation decisions, visit www.colorado.gov/governor or click here.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

The Leadville Sanitation District is spending $1.6 million for sewer line replacement this year

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From the Leadville Herald Democrat (Ann E. Wibbenmeyer):

The project cost is approximately $1,607,000. $728,000 of that is from a mineral impact grant. The rest of the funding comes from the district’s capital reserve fund, according to Scott Marcella, manager. The district has been saving and working on the project for eight years, he said. The line will be replacing a problem line from the West Park subdivision to the highway. At one time, said Marcella, a part of that line was dug up and it was discovered that there wasn’t any pipeline present for the line. The line was put in when West Park was moved from Climax in the 1960s, and done hastily, said Marcella.

More wastewater coverage here.

Gunnison River: Hartland dam project site preparation and fish ladder design work begins

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From the Delta County Independent:

Painted Sky Resource, Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) awarded the final design contract for the Hartland Dam project to McLaughlin Water Engineering on March 19. McLaughlin, a Denver company, has experience in designing fish and boat passage projects in rivers with high rates of flow.

McLaughlin will complete the final design by mid-June 2010, according to the updated project schedule. After approval of the final design, Painted Sky will release bid packages for construction. Slated to begin in August, construction should be completed by the end of October 2010.

Three workers, under the Teens on the Farm program, have been helping take down and move fences on private land bordering the program site on the Gunnison River near Delta.

Painted Sky started site prep work in mid-March. Three boys, paid through Teens on the Farm, a non-profit program in Delta County, helped move and take down fences on private land bordering the river. ECO Contracting, LLC built a berm and prepared a site for rock storage. Dirt Merchants Construction was hired to install a culvert and improve the access for delivery of rocks.

McLaughlin started work for the final design on March 29 by gathering data to map the river bottom. McLaughlin engineers will use the data to understand and predict how water flows over the riverbed. Their design must provide for the impact of up to a 100-year flood event.

Using laser-surveying equipment similar to devices used for surveying along roadsides, one man stands on the riverbank aiming a laser beam. A second man in a wetsuit stands in the river, holding the laser’s target. The team spent two days taking measurements 1,000 feet above the current dam and 1,000 feet below the dam.

The Hartland Dam Project will insure Hartland Irrigation Company’s access to their senior water rights and improve boater safety while traversing the dam.

The fish passage will reconnect river habitats and fish populations above and below the dam. As it exists now, the dam blocks three threatened species of bottom-dwelling, native fish, the flannelmouth sucker, bluehead sucker and roundtail chub, from swimming upstream past the dam.

The new design will connect navigable river for rafters as well. Rafts crossing over the current dam without portaging around it have overturned, resulting in deaths. The new design will be safer for rafters and make trespassing on private property unnecessary…

For more information, contact Mike Drake, Painted Sky project manager at 970-527-4535 (office) or cell 801-710-8372 or NRCS coordinator Paul Van Ryzin at 970-874-5726 ext. 133.

More Hartland Dam coverage here.

Cedaredge: The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is looking into turbidity reporting for the treatment plant

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From the Delta County Independent (Bob Borchardt):

In his report to the Cedaredge Town Council, Roberts told the trustees that in the month of March he had received a call from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) questioning the town’s turbidity readings over the past several months…

In a separate interview, Roberts said CDPHE District Engineer Joycelyn Mullen told him that her office had flagged the town’s turbidity testing results. Roberts said Mullen told him that it was impossible for a town to have water as clean as is being reported by the Town of Cedaredge. Roberts noted that over the past several months, the turbidity readings for the town have been at a consistent .02. “Mullen told me that distilled water is .014, and that nobody can consistently produce .02 water.” But Randy Bodwell, chief plant operator for the Town of Cedaredge, told Roberts that a .02 reading is typical for Cedaredge during the winter months. Roberts said Mullen told him that Denver would launch an investigation to determine whether or not the town had been reporting fraudulent numbers on their reports to the CDPHE. Bodwell told Roberts that all the CDPHE had to do was to compare the current report to previous years.

More water treatment coverage here.

Pagosa Springs Area Water and Sanitation District board of directors election

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Here’s Part I and Part III (I haven’t found Part II yet) of Bill Hudson’s look at the election of the board. I would think that Dry Gulch Reservoir will be part of conversation.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Now that it is spring, we will be increasing our releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River to meet the seasonal minimum stream flow. At 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, we will increase our releases to 100 cfs.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here and here.

Ruedi Reservoir operations update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

With the advent of May tomorrow, we will make our first operational change at Ruedi for the water year. In the early morning, we will increase releases to 110 cfs.

Also, please make sure Wednesday, May 12 is on your calendars. That will be our first of two public meetings this year to share information on Ruedi Reservoir operations. The meeting will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Basalt Town Hall.

Last, don’t forget to visit our new Webpage for additonal Ruedi information at www.usbr.gov/gp/ecao/ruedi.html.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here.