Drought news: The summer was the second hottest on record for the Pueblo area

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Gayle Perez):

For the months of June, July and August, Pueblo’s highest average temperature of 77.2 degrees was just six-tenth of a degree shy of breaking the 41-year-old record. Neighboring Southeastern Colorado communities of Alamosa and Colorado Springs had their warmest summers on record, according to statistics from the National Weather Service. Alamosa’s average temperature was 65.3 degrees, nearly a degree hotter than the record set last year at 64.4 degrees. Colorado Springs’ average temperature was 73.2 degrees, which broke a 31-year record. In Pueblo, the three-month highest average was 77.2 degrees. The statistics are for June 1 through Wednesday…

The average high temperature in Pueblo was 93.8 degrees, the third-hottest on record. The record high average is 94.1 degrees, set in 2002…

“It was a general heat wave. It was hot and dry in Texas and the ridge of high pressure extended into Southeastern Colorado,” [Paul Wolyn of the National Weather Service] said. “Besides the warm, we had the monsoon plume push away from us and we didn’t have those afternoon thunderstorms like we’ve had in the past. Without the afternoon storms, it just got a little warmer around here.”

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Meanwhile, Denver recorded the hottest on record August, as well. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

according to the National Weather Service, where Denver recorded its all-time hottest August on record, with an average temperature of 77 degrees for the month. That may not sound so hot but remember, that reading is the average of all highs and lows for the entire month. The previous record, 76.8 degrees, was set in the Dust Bowl era, back in 1937.

It was also the sixth-hottest month in the Mile High City, with the hottest August on record way back in July 1934, with an average temperature of 77.8 degrees.

The near-record readings came courtesy of a sustained string of warm days, and not just from a few extreme spikes. Through Aug. 31, Denver recorded 71 consecutive days with temperatures climbing above 80 degrees. The previous record streak for 80-degree-plus days was 59 days, set during the epic 2002 drought year.

Here’s the August 2011 Climate Summary from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Great Outdoors Colorado Board Accepting Concept Papers For River Corridors Initiative

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Here’s the release from GOCO:

The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board is requesting concept papers for large-scale projects centered around river-based recreation and open space. The Board has allocated $14 to $18 million for this initiative, which also includes projects surrounding creeks, streams, canals and other water sources suitable for outdoor recreation.

GOCO’s intent with this Rivers Initiative is to provide more places and facilities for Colorado’s citizens and visitors to enjoy the state’s vast river resources while maintaining the important river ecosystems and natural values they provide.

Given the high level of demand and the Board’s desire to see an immediate impact from these funds, GOCO is seeking projects that:

• are of regional or statewide significance; and
• can be completed within three years of award; and
• entail one or more of the following project types:

o will give people direct access to a river-based open space or recreational experience in appropriate locations
o will provide buffers to river-based open space or recreational facilities
o will provide critical planning for future river-based open space and recreation. (If you anticipate seeking planning funds, please contact GOCO staff prior to submitting a concept paper.)

The Board will evaluate concept papers based on eligibility and criteria available at http://www.goco.org. At its December 6, 2011, meeting, the Board will invite selected concept papers to submit full applications. Concept papers are due at the GOCO office no later than 5:00 p.m., October 14, 2011.

Restored Lake John Fishery Opens September 3

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What a great name for a lake, if I do say so myself. Here’s an excerpt from the release from the Colorado Department of Wildlife and Parks:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has completed a reclamation project at Lake John, setting the stage for a rejuvenated fishery that will be open for angling in early September. Lake John is located northwest of Walden along CO Road 7A.

“The success we have had with the reclamation is like a reset button for Lake John,” said Kurt Davies, aquatic biologist for the northeast region. “The lake will be back online by the first week of September and back to growing fish at its maximum potential. The fish we are planting now will see tremendous growth before the lake is even iced up and with the large brood fish we are putting in there, there’s the possibility someone will hook into a real trophy.”

Parks and Wildlife biologists and managers anticipate dramatic improvements in Lake John post –reclamation. Signs posted at the entrance to Lake John will notify the public of the re-opened fishery in the near future.

“The reclamation has been very successful to this point and I’m looking forward to seeing anglers catch fish out of Lake John this September,” said Walden District Wildlife Manager Josh Dilley. “This water is important to the local economy as well as to the recreation of my district.

More North Platte River basin coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: GP Resources LLC launches ‘Southeast Renewable Water Initiative’ website

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Say hello to the GP Resources LLC Southeast Renewable Water Initiative website. From the “concept” page:

GP Resources, LLC, is a Colorado-based agriculture and natural resources company committed to providing treated drinking water and water storage for users throughout the Front Range and southeastern Colorado as part of a new regional water project intended to serve as a model for how in-state water transfers can be structured in a way that benefits all stakeholders.

The project involves limited amounts of ground water from Elbert County and a significant amount of agricultural surface water from the lower Arkansas River, both of which are privately owned by GP Resources. It is anticipated that the project will create jobs and provide homeowners and businesses with access to much-needed renewable water supplies, helping solve the increasing problems associated with reliance on aquifer resources.

In an effort to make this project a model for how water transfers should be done, GP will take guidance from the Water Transfer Template developed by the Arkansas River Roundtable as a framework for addressing the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.

Significant groundwork has gone into project analysis, finance, and planning. Key components include:

Investments in equipment, systems, and practices to increase the efficiencies of current water consumption on GP’s farms based in Lamar. Large portions of the farms will continue to be irrigated after the project is completed and the remaining water will become available for municipal use after going through Colorado’s mandated water court process. The court process ensures that downstream agricultural and municipal users will not be adversely affected by the change in use. Since this is an existing diversion, the project will not remove any water from the Arkansas basin that is not already being consumed and therefore should have minimal environmental impact. In addition, all required permitting processes will be followed and the project will comply with the Arkansas River Compact.

Investments in GP’s water rights and systems in Elbert County, involving a local water District to provide the transmission of GP’s privately owned and adjudicated water on an interim basis to a water District in the greater Colorado Springs area. This will include construction of a below-ground pipeline through or adjacent to an existing service easement for most of the alignment and will bring much-needed relief to the community, which has experienced problems with its current water sources. Upon delivery of GP’s renewable water supply to this community, the same pipeline will be re-used to deliver additional renewable water to other Front Range communities.

Investments in water treatment, storage, and transmission facilities which will allow the efficient movement of GP’s Lamar water to Front Range and eastern plains communities, providing them with a stable, cost-effective, and perpetual water supply. Additionally, jobs will be created in both Elbert and Prowers counties through the construction, on-going maintenance and operation of the system.

To implement these plans, GP is currently in discussions with several water Districts to provide them with an efficient solution to their water needs as quickly as possible. GP has also had preliminary consultations with relevant County and State authorities to ensure its project is responsive to local needs and provides a win-win for key stakeholders. GP plans to continue these efforts through immediate contact with all interested parties in the Arkansas Valley, eastern plains and along the Front Range.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

Invasive species: Mudsnails and Eurasian watermilfoil found at Eleven Mile Reservoir

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From the Fairplay Flume (Quintn Parker/Tom Locke):

The New Zealand mudsnail cannot be controlled, reproduces very rapidly and could lead to smaller fish in Eleven Mile, while the Eurasian milfoil can be controlled but not eradicated, and it could lead to dense weed mats in the reservoir that could make it difficult to navigate for swimmers or boaters, Elizabeth Brown, invasive species coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told The Flume.

“Eleven Mile State Park is a fabulous place, and it will continue to be so. It’s something we’re going to have to manage,” said Brown. “We’re working on a strategy.”

Eleven Mile State Park is of significant importance to Park County. In 2009, it drew 309,266 visitors, and between June 2008 and May 2009, $15.7 million was spent by non-resident visitors to Eleven Mile, according to survey results released Sept. 2, 2010.

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are continuing efforts to educate boaters, anglers and other recreationists about the need to clean, drain and dry boats, waders and other equipment when using Colorado waters.

“We have had success with our boat inspection programs to prevent invasive species, but there are a few aquatic nuisance species that can spread via methods other than boats,” said Elizabeth Brown, an Invasive Species Coordinator with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The fact that we’re finding new populations means we have to work harder to engage the public to do their part to clean and dry all their gear and equipment as well as their boats to protect our waters.”

Rusty crayfish, discovered in 2009 in the headwaters of the Yampa River, have been recently confirmed in the reservoir at Stagecoach State Park, near Steamboat Springs. A July 6 survey found that New Zealand mudsnails, another aquatic invader, have made their way from South Delaney Butte Reservoir to nearby East Delaney Butte Reservoir within the Delaney Buttes State Wildlife Area in North Park. Colorado Parks and Wildlife monitoring crews have also recently confirmed New Zealand mudsnails and an aquatic invasive weed, Eurasian watermilfoil, in the reservoir at Eleven Mile State Park. Earlier this summer it was announced that quagga mussel veligers were again confirmed through monitoring at Lake Pueblo State Park.

The effort to educate recreationists began in earnest in Colorado in 2004 as both Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife undertook campaigns following the initial discovery of New Zealand mudsnails in Colorado. The effort intensified in 2007 when invasive zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Pueblo. With legislative funding assistance, Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife rolled out a statewide effort to inspect boats on major waters in the state and try to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels and other invasive species. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation earlier this year that merged Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife and the separate programs are being combined with an eye toward identifying efficiencies that will make the programs more effective.

“Invasive species are very effective at hitching a ride to new places on everything from boats to waders to hiking boots,” explained Brown. “Recreationists can stop the spread of these costly invaders by cleaning their equipment in between each and every use. The majority of Colorado’s waters are still free of invasive species and through a comprehensive education program we hope to keep it that way.”

Some invasive species have shown the ability to live for several weeks out of the water in nothing more than a crevice or clump of mud. Invasive species threaten fisheries, ecosystems and water management equipment. In areas where invasive mussels have become established they have altered fishing, littered beaches with sharp shells, clogged pipes and damaged underwater structures.

Boaters can find information about how to protect Colorado waters from invasive species online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/MandatoryBoatInspections.aspx or http://www.parks.state.co.us/Boating/NewBoatInspection/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx.

The most important thing anglers can do is to remove all mud, plants and organic material from their waders and equipment after every use. Anglers are advised to then submerge waders and gear in a large tub filled with a mixture of half Kitchen Formula 409 and half water for at least 10 minutes. Debris should be scrubbed from surfaces and a visual inspection should be done before rinsing. Items can also be soaked in water greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 10 minutes. Waders or boots can also be stored in a freezer overnight between each use or can be dried completely for at least 10 days before using them in another body of water.

More information is available about New Zealand mud snails at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/InvasiveSpecies/Pages/RustyCrayfish.aspx.

Additional information about rusty crayfish, including regulations prohibiting crayfish movement in western Colorado, can be found online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/InvasiveSpecies/Pages/RustyCrayfish.aspx.

Detailed information on zebra and quagga mussels can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/InvasiveSpecies/Pages/ZebraandQuaggaMussels.aspx.

More invasive species coverage here.