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.

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