The Bureau of Land management is constructing a fish barrier in East Parachute Creek to isolate Colorado River cutthroats

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

BLM is also working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Trout Unlimited to install a fish barrier in East Fork Parachute Creek as part of an effort to maintain native Colorado River cutthroat trout in this drainage.

The Colorado River cutthroats on the Roan Plateau are considered some of the most genetically pure, but non-native brook trout introduced many years ago into the East Fork Parachute Creek are threatening that drainage’s cutthroat population.

“If we don’t take action now, we expect the cutthroat to be completely gone from the East Fork in one to three years,” said BLM West Slope Fisheries Biologist Tom Fresques.

The concrete fish barrier will be installed near the confluence with Third Water Gulch. It will prevent brook trout from moving upstream, which will allow biologists to begin reclaiming the cutthroat population upstream of the barrier.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

Releases from Elkhead Reservoir for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program will have the Yampa running 1,000 cfs at Maybell

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From the Craig Daily Press:

“A relatively high volume of water will be released (about 350 cubic-feet-per-second) from Elkhead for four days to support a sustained flow of about 1,000 cfs in the Yampa River at Maybell, downstream of Craig,” Fish and Wildlife officials announced in the release. “The released water will take about 24 hours to reach Maybell, and flows will return to pre-release levels at Maybell by Aug. 24.

“All releases will be made through the dam outlets that are screened to prevent the escapement of nonnative fish.”

The reservoir level is expected to drop 3 feet during the release period and stabilize by the middle of next week, according to the release. There will be no affects to boat or angler access to the reservoir.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board voted 13-1 against expansion of federal wilderness areas in the Arkansas River basin

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

At issue is a bill by Diana DeGette, D-Colo., to create additional Colorado wilderness areas, as well as wild lands and wilderness study designations approved by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. The federal legislation has been reintroduced several times without success.

The [Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District] believes any of those actions could prevent water development. “Development of storage or enlargement of existing storage and other beneficial uses of water on streams that are included in these wilderness designations, such as Grape, Badger or Beaver Creeks, will be precluded as a consequence,” Upper Ark chairman Glenn Everett said.

The Southeastern District still has conditional decrees for canals that could serve hydroelectric power generation. The canals haven’t been built, but could be in the future, explained Bob Hamilton, engineering supervisor for the district.

Most board members agreed, except for Reed Dils. “In my mind, considering what’s going to happen to the legislation, we should do nothing at all,” Dils said. “I support wilderness legislation.”

More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Various restoration and flood control projects require substitute water supply plans to be filed with the state engineer

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Substitute water supply plans, which cover impacts from changes of water use that last less than five years, already have been filed on two of three projects that have begun on Fountain Creek. The plans are filed with the Division of Water Resources and can be forerunners of eventual court decrees, as uses continue over longer periods of time…

“We’re pleased (project sponsors) recognize there is a water rights component that needs to be addressed,” Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte said. Plans have been filed on the Clear Spring Ranch and Pueblo North Side wetlands restoration projects. The sediment collector project also would need a plan if it continues beyond a year.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Arkansas Valley Super Ditch update: Pilot project underway to determine how fallowed land will be affected

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From the Lamar Tribune Democrat (Bette McFarren):

Four hundred acres of the 1,200 acres enrolled in the program will be fallowed. Five hundred acre-feet of water would be sold yearly to Fountain, Security and Widefield at a cost of $500 an acre-foot. The water is to be stored in Pueblo Reservoir.

The area designated for fallowing may be rotated or kept the same for the entire three-year period. Most farmers are electing to rotate the area to be fallowed, said [Heath Kuntz of Adaptive Resources Inc.], in order to do maintenance work on the land. Many intend to laser-level the ground while it is dried up. A cover crop must be planted to prevent wind erosion, but may not be irrigated. Weed control is also required. The pilot program seeks to involve as many farming scenarios as possible. “Better now with 500 acres than later with 5,000 acres involved,” said [Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District] General Manager Jay Winner…

A great deal of oversight is planned for the project. So far, State Engineer Dick Wolfe seems to be favorable to the plan, said Winner. The plan will be managed with administrative tools, not water court. The governor likes the Rule 10 engineering plan, which is the basic tool for measuring the water on the farms. The ISAM plan is agreeable to most parties involved, with modifications as the pilot program plays out. The pilot program should be ready for state approval by December.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: El Paso County Q&A over Niobrara shale play draws around 100 people

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From KRDO.com (Joe Dominguez):

State and local elected leaders called the meeting educational for the public. Many of the questions from the public focused on contamination and making sure companies aren’t polluting the water and ground. “That’s why I think people are concerned,” said State Representative Marsha Looper. “When you have no water then you have no life, no economy.”[…]

It’s not just county land that’s ripe for fracking. Most of Colorado is in the Niobrara shale area. Doug Flanders, with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said because Colorado now sits where a western interior seaway was 90 million years ago it is now prime real estate for oil and gas companies to find new sources of domestic oil. The Banning Lewis Ranch is another area that could be home to drilling in the future. City of Colorado Springs leaders have been in talks with the oil and gas company that is buying the foreclosed property. Mayor Steve Bach said last week it is a real possibility that the land will eventually be used simply for drilling and fracking.

State Representative Looper has posted the handouts from the meeting on her website. The handouts are a great resource for anyone interested in hydraulic fracturing and the Niobrara shale play.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Arkansas Valley Conduit: $3 million funding study should be included in this year’s omnibus funding bill from the U.S. Congress

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The study’s nearly $3 million in funding for next year received support in committee, and should be part of an anticipated omnibus funding bill later this year, lobbyist Christine Arbogast told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District on Thursday. “We should receive just under $3 million unless there are across-the-board cuts,” Arbogast said…

The Southeastern board is the primary sponsor of the conduit, and has combined the EIS for the conduit with a master storage contract in Lake Pueblo on behalf of both conduit participants and other members of the Southeastern district.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.