Grand Lake: Canton O’Donnell — ‘The clarity has so much improved over anything we’ve seen in August over the past 50 years’

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

“The clarity has so much improved over anything we’ve seen in August over the past 50 years,” said Three Lakes Watershed Association President Canton O’Donnell of Grand Lake. The 250-member organization has advocated for better water quality in Grand Lake for at least 20 years.

O’Donnell’s observations during a recent annual sailing regatta on Grand Lake are backed up by a Three Lakes Clarity Monitoring Report for July, which shows improvements in clarity throughout the month. Clarity in Grand Lake reached greater than 13 feet, a far cry from a 2007 reading of 4.8 feet in late summer.

The problem “everyone agrees on,” O’Donnell said, is the shallowness of Shadow Mountain Reservoir. Water delivered to northeastern Colorado to support communities and ranches is pumped through Shadow. Average residency for water in Shadow is about a month, during which the water heats up and produces algae, weeds and sediment brought through the canal into natural Grand Lake.

The monitoring program through the Grand County Water Information Network — which shares data with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District — analyzes weather and Secchi depth readings in lakes including natural Grand Lake and the connected Shadow Mountain Reservoir.

More Grand Lake coverage here and here.

Conservation: Massive New Coalition Stands up for Resource Conservation, Outdoor Recreation, Historic Preservation

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Here’s the announcement from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

Sportsmen aren’t alone in advocating for strongly funded conservation programs in America. The TRCP is helping to lead an unprecedented coalition representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds and areas of interet to call for federal investments in natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation programs.

The coalition, America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, is made up of more than 600 organizations. The coalition recently sent a letter to the leadership in the House and Senate acknowledging the tremendous fiscal challenges facing the country and reminding members of Congress about the economic importance of natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation programs. The groups offered assistance in quantifying the economic benefits of these programs as a means to inform budgetary decision-making.

“Investments in natural resource conservation, historic preservation and outdoor recreation comprise roughly 1 percent of the federal budget yet provide a return on investment that far exceeds the cost to the taxpayer. Just ask anyone who has ever enjoyed our great American wilderness, or benefited from the clean air and water those lands provide, or the local economies they support,” said Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society, a member of the coalition.

“Historic preservation programs fuel jobs and produce strong returns on public investments that impact primarily rural communities and cannot be exported to foreign countries. We are committed to working closely with Congress to identify savings while also supporting the programs that most effectively achieve these results,” said John Nau, chairman emeritus of the Civil War Trust, a member of the coalition.

This diverse coalition is urging Congress to look at conservation programs as critical investments that can help America grow its way out of our financial challenges.

“Over the years, federal conservation programs have helped leverage billions of dollars of non-federal money to conserve millions of acres of critical habitat, thus helping to preserve America’s rich hunting and fishing traditions,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP, one of the many sporting groups that is helping to lead the coalition.

Read the coalition’s letter.

More conservation coverage here.

Restoration: Biochar is being used to facilitate abandoned mine cleanups

Here’s an infographic created by Kimberly Hiral for the High Country News explaining the application of biochar in abandoned mine cleanup. From the article:

To help revegetate and stabilize the acidic, plant-hostile soils around mine sites, scientists are borrowing a technique from agricultural research: They apply biochar, a charcoal formed by heating plant and wood waste in the absence of oxygen, to the soil. The carbon-dense char, used to boost soil fertility on farms, helps plants get established in barren mine sites, reducing contaminated runoff.

More restoration coverage here.

Drought news: Northern Colorado hay farmers enjoy solid prices due to drought in the southeastern part of the state

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From The Fence Post (Eric Brown):

Lack of moisture in southern Colorado ­— where 12 counties were declared disaster areas by the federal government recently ­— and in neighboring states like Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico — is leaving farmers in those areas struggling to grow feed for their livestock. That is driving up the demand and price of hay for producers where the crop is still growing.

At the end of July alfalfa prices across the board for northeast Colorado were about $50 to $70 higher than they were a year ago. Prices ranged from about $190 to $210 per ton for premium alfalfa down to about $140 to $150 for fair quality hay.

“On the one hand, you like it as a hay farmer because you can sell your commodity for a higher price,” said Jerrold Brethauer of Kersey, Colo., who farms about 110 acres of hay on his own land and helps custom cut about another 2,200 acres. “But on the other hand, you don’t want to see the high prices hurt the livestock industry.”

Raton, New Mexico: Funds raised from ‘The Battle of the Bands Benefit’ Friday and Saturday to help with Track fire restoration

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From The Trinidad Times (Todd Wildermuth):

The Battle of the Bands Benefit is designed by Raton MainStreet to raise money to go toward the restoration efforts in the city’s damaged watershed area in Sugarite Canyon and the surrounding area northeast of Raton. The watershed was severely damaged by the Track Fire that burned for a week or more in mid-June.

Nine bands are to take part in the event, with attendees each getting one vote for their favorite band. Admission is a minimum donation of $10, which buys the right to vote once, although additional votes can be purchased for $1 each. The money raised will go to Fire Relief Fund for Sugarite Canyon rehabilitation and the watershed project.

The band battle will go on Friday outside the VFW on Park Avenue from 6 p.m. to midnight. Playing that night will be Grupo Vive (6-8 p.m.), Nicole Unser and The Open Range Band (8:30- 9:30 p.m.) and JD Castillo Y Los Compas (10 p.m.-midnight).

The battle will continue much of the day and night Saturday outside the White House Saloon on Cook Avenue. The music is scheduled for 11 a.m. to midnight that day. The bands will be Fritti Fonteneau and Fat Tuesday Band (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), Highway 38 Hound Dogs (1:30-3:30 p.m.), Nicole Unser (4-5 p.m.), Colfax Reunion (5:15-7:15 p.m.), Turning Point (7:30-9:30 p.m.) and Level 5 (10 p.m.-midnight)…

Work is ongoing in the watershed — the north part of Sugarite Canyon and extending north into Colorado — to protect it from too much ash and debris running off hillsides into Lake Maloya, Raton’s main water supply. Rehabilitation efforts such as seeding of new vegetation has also taken place.

Fort Collins: Imagine H2O and the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster sign a memorandum of understanding with an eye towards helping build successful water businesses

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (David Young):

The partnership permits access to each partner’s programming resources to provide a greater depth of resources for entrepreneurs, according to a news release. The city of Fort Collins is a founding member of the CWIC.

“This agreement creates new opportunities for Colorado water innovators” said Jeff Throck-morton, chairman of the CWIC, in a prepared statement. “And partnerships with organizations like Imagine H2O will fuel innovation, collaboration and growth throughout the region.”

Imagine H2O, a nonprofit organization, provides support and mentoring to entrepreneurs and businesses that are advancing water innovation. Launched this year, the CWIC is building a network that includes Colorado-based academic, governmental or commercial institutions from which innovative water solutions and new businesses can evolve.

Potential water projects include: home water conservation, agricultural water rights management, water infrastructure asset management and other water-related issues.

The collaboration with Imagine H2O is intended to position Northern Colorado and the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster as a leader in the water sector…

This year, Imagine is focusing on innovations surrounding waste water with funding for ideas related to gray water systems, energy waste water, treatment systems and other related business plans.

As for the CWIC, it is moving forward with its first project with the Lake Canal Alternative Practices and In-stream Flow Demonstration. The demonstration addresses municipal, industrial and environmental water “gap” during irrigation season in the Lake Canal area by using packaged software, field instrumentation solution developed by Colorado-based Regenesis Management Group, along with researchers from Colorado State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More Colorado water coverage here.