From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Marianne Goodland):
DOW announced Thursday that it would put at least $6 million into a five-year plan for water storage projects that will primarily benefit wildlife purposes. The water projects under the agreement target 17 dams statewide that need repairs and improvements, including Two Buttes, in southeastern Colorado; and Beaver Park Reservoir in Boulder County. DNR spokesman Todd Hartman said Thursday that three dams need millions of dollars in restoration work; five others require funding of at least $500,000 each, and the last nine will need about $300,000 each. The five-year plan will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review, according to DNR officials. Water projects can be pursued by the division “so long as they have the primary purpose of protecting wildlife,” the division said in a Thursday statement, but those projects can have other benefits, such as water supply for irrigation and other agricultural needs. “I believe any water project that saves or increases our water storage is good for all of Colorado,” Becker said Thursday. It’s not the first time DOW has put money into water projects; the division has spent about $2 million on fish and wildlife water projects in the last five years, and owns 104 dams. But under the agreement, water projects will become a higher priority for the division, according to Sonnenberg.
DNR Executive Director Mike King and Becker unveiled the agreement Thursday morning to a gathering of sports and wildlife enthusiasts who were at the capitol for “Sportsmen’s Day,” and the announcement got a positive reception from the group. Becker said he was happy to get the water projects funded through agreement rather than through legislation. It’s an agreement that will be “beneficial to everyone,” he said, one that will keep everyone at the table talking.
That’s also one of the purposes of the Citizen’s Wildlife Advisory Council, which Sonnenberg said was started to resolve the often-adversarial relationship between the sportsmen community and landowners. The 23-member group includes Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Adams County, who chairs the legislative sportsmen’s caucus at the capitol.