Restoration project on Swan River involves mitigating the effects of dredge piles and the introduction of cutthroats


From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

Because the Swan River is “a pretty good opportunity to restore a metapopulation of native Colorado cutthroat trout,” the Forest Service is tackling the project with its partners. Summit County and Breckenridge have been working on their Swan River properties since 2007, but with Forest Service technical support, they and the other partners aim to hire a project design firm and begin implementation as soon as possible — but there’s a long way to go. The idea is to re-introduce the cutthroat in different, but connected, habitats.

“We want them to mingle and mix and from a genetic perspective, that’s good,” [Forest Service district fisheries biologist Corey Lewellen] said, adding that part of the reintroduction effort includes relocating as many brown trout as possible and eliminating the rest to prevent them from again out-competing the cutthroat.

The project will likely be expensive, at several millions of dollars funded by grants and other revenue managed by the Blue River Watershed Group, but it will be worth it, Lewellen said.

“There are 17 miles of habitat we can reconnect if we fix this two miles of dredge,” he said, later adding, “We want to promote healthy fish populations on all our lands… We can’t do that without restoring this.”

But that’s just part of it. The Forest Service is involved in the stream project because it’s part of a broader look at the Swan River watershed — an area covering roughly 20,000 acres. It’s also associated with the agency’s revised mission to get “better bang for our buck,” Lewellen said, by focusing resources more directly instead of haphazardly across the national forest.

More Blue River watershed coverage here.

CWCB: Next Water Availability Task Force meeting August 17


From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force meeting is on Wednesday, August 17 from 1:30-3:30pm at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO, in the Bighorn Room. A meeting agenda…will be posted on the WATF webpage.

More CWCB coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 134 cfs in the river below Ruedi Dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As we continue to match outflow with inflow, and as inflow continues to go down, we are reducing releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River some more. Tomorrow morning, Friday August 12, we will cut back releases from the dam by 30 cfs. The resulting cfs by the Ruedi Dam gage will be about 134 cfs.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Restoration: Aurora and the U.S. Forest Service are partnering on forest restoration near the Hayman burn


From the Associated Press via The Columbus Republic:

Aurora is joining efforts by the National Forest Foundation, Vail Resorts Inc. and the U.S. Forest Service to restore some of the 215 square miles burned by the 2002 Hayman fire. The Forest Service said Thursday that Aurora Water’s investment would help leverage other funds from private partners, including a $200,000 challenge grant from The Gates Family Foundation.

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

The Aurora City Council in late July approved agreements with the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service that will invigorate an existing partnership including Vail Resorts and other partners. The investment from Aurora Water will help leverage funds from eight other private partners including a $200,000 challenge grant from The Gates Family Foundation.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman helped announce the partnership today, calling it a key to protecting watersheds essential to Aurora’s water supply and emphasizing the importance of partnerships between the Forest Service and other entities. “When we turn on our faucets, we tap water from our forests,” Sherman said. “The National Forests provide more than 70 percent of public water systems that serve millions of Colorado citizens. Improving the health and resiliency of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests in areas critical for delivering water to the City of Aurora benefits the land, the water and the tens of thousands of Aurora Water customers,” he added.

“The quality and reliability of our water supply is dependent upon forest health,” said Aurora Water director Mark Pifher. “A healthy forest is how nature keeps sediment from entering the watershed. Aurora and Denver Water are currently spending millions of dollars to dredge Strontia Spring Reservoir as a result of past fires. Failure to take action now would result in more costly measures in the future.”

More coverage from Sarah Castellanos writing for the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

The investment, which came from the coffers of Aurora Water, will help plant more than 200,000 trees, revegetate more than 13 miles of riverbank with natural foliage, rehabilitate the landscape and improve the habitat for fish and the endangered Montane Skipper Butterfly. The area is part of the South Platte River Basin, from which Aurora residents receive most of their water. Because of Aurora’s donation, the Gates Family Foundation is also donating $200,000 toward the restoration project.

More coverage from Carlos Illescas writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Aurora has pledged to help restore 45,000 acres from the Hayman fire. It also plans to seek $200,000 from the private sector, including a grant from The Gates Family Foundation. In all, the project to restore the burn area is estimated at $4.6 million. More than 200,000 ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and other varieties of trees will be planted. Also, 13 miles of riverbank will be revegetated with native foliage.

More restoration coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is sampling groundwater to establish baselines


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Colorado oil and gas regulators are beginning a water testing program in Weld, Jackson, Elbert and Park counties to establish the current water quality in areas likely to see new energy development tapping the Niobrara formation…

Northern Weld County is booming with oil and gas activity, most of which was sparked by a well drilled into the Niobrara formation in 2009 near Grover that gushed oil and natural gas…

The water quality data will help regulators respond to complaints about groundwater contamination from oil and gas drilling, [Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Dave Neslin] said…

Widespread new development tapping the Niobrara formation is now expected throughout the Front Range…

“The Niobrara conservatively is 250,000 square miles,” [Larimer County spokesman John Dill] said. “It runs all the way east of Casper all the way east of Denver. It’s a huge, huge piece of land. We are just in the process of doing our exploration, trying to figure out where the best places to drill a well would be. I think it’s very early in the game to predict what the long-term looks like for any particular area, any particular county.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service are embarking on a project to restore Colorado River Cutthroat trout to a 15 mile reach of Big Dominguez Creek


From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dave Buchanan):

The plan, which biologists say might take up to eight years to complete, would remove non-native fish, including rainbow trout, from a 15-mile expanse of Big Dominguez and La Fair creeks on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Once the cutthroat trout are restored, a fish barrier will be placed at the bottom of the restored stretch to prevent a reintroduction of non-natives, including rainbow and brook trout. The project is a cooperative effort between the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The Forest Service is providing the funding for the project and doing needed preliminary work. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be the lead in the removal of non-natives and the stocking of cutthroats.

“(Colorado Parks and Wildlife) and us had this list of projects but they didn’t have the money for this one,” said Matt Dare, an aquatic biologist for the GMUG. “For native cutthroat trout this is the best sort of proactive management we can do to restore more populations of cutthroat trout.”[…]

The plan includes poisoning La Fair Creek and a stretch of Big Dominguez Creek above and below its confluence with La Fair to remove non-native fish prior to restocking with cutthroat trout. La Fair meets Big Dominguez at Carson Hole. From there, it’s about two miles to the Big Dominguez Wilderness Area, which is on Bureau of Land Management land. Once the non-native fish are removed, a fish barrier will be built on Big Dominguez Creek near the wilderness boundary.

More restoration coverage here.

‘NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin’ and Colorado Drought Status Briefing


Here’s the link to the presentations from this week’s webinar from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation roundup.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: 750 cfs in the Lower Blue River below the dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Today [August 10], we’re dropping releases from Green Mountain Dam to the lower Blue by another 200 cfs. By late this afternoon, flows in the lower Blue should be around 750 cfs. Inflows to Green Mountain Reservoir are dropping off. As we continue to match outflow with inflow, the reservoir water surface elevation is remaining fairly steady at about 2 feet down from full.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

The Arkansas Basin roundtable approves the Flaming Gorge task force, some members skeptical of project


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Several members of the roundtable said they are against the project or skeptical that it will ever be built, but agreed the group needs to have input in case it develops…

The grant application, submitted by roundtable chairman Gary Barber on behalf of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority that he manages, does not propose supporting either proposal for a Flaming Gorge pipeline, but would identify impacts and concerns…

“This is not a good project for Colorado,” said Tom Young, a Fremont County rancher. He said a project from the Missouri River basin, just 50 miles further away in South Dakota, would truly bring more water into the state and not jeopardize Colorado’s entitlement under the Colorado River Compact…

[Alan Hamel, who now represents the basin on the CWCB] said there is still some water available to be developed under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. “It might not be available every year, but that’s the type of thing Colorado needs to look at,” Hamel said. “This is a public process, with all participants at the table.”

More Flaming Gorge task force coverage here.