Colorado Mesa University: ‘Habitat Restoration for Endangered Colorado River Fishes in the Grand Valley’ seminar Monday

humpbackchub.jpg

From email from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University (Hannah Holm):

The Fall 2011 Natural Resources of the West seminar series at Colorado Mesa University focuses on Restoration. Our next guest speaker will be Patty Gelatt, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Habitat Restoration for Endangered Colorado River Fishes in the Grand Valley

Monday 7 November 2011 4 pm – 5:15 pm
Wubben-Science, Room 141 (Saccomanno Lecture Hall)
Colorado Mesa University (for maps and directions, see: http://www.coloradomesa.edu/campusinfo/maps.html)
Grand Junction, CO

Please note that this is an adjustment to the published schedule. Steve Renner’s talk on mine remediation will be held the following Monday 11/14.

The seminars are free and open to the public, no registration necessary.

For the complete schedule, see http://home.coloradomesa.edu/~grichard/WSS/Seminar2011.htm

Please contact Dr. Gigi Richard (970-248-1689) or Dr. Tamera Minnick (970-248-1663) for more information.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here and here.

Reclamation Seeks Comments on Draft WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program Funding Opportunity Announcement

clearcreekwatershedmap.jpg

Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comments on the draft WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program Funding Opportunity Announcement. The draft Funding Opportunity Announcement was published in the Federal Register and may be read here.

The Cooperative Watershed Management Program contributes to the WaterSMART program by providing funding for watershed groups to encourage diverse stakeholders to form local solutions in addressing their water management needs. It will be implemented in three phases.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement will implement phase one by providing funding to establish or expand a watershed group. Comments on the Funding Opportunity Announcement are encouraged and may be submitted per the announcement in the Federal Register.

The purpose of the Cooperative Watershed Management Program is to improve water quality and ecological resilience, and to reduce conflicts over water through collaborative conservation efforts in the management of local watersheds. Its primary goal is to address two major concerns synonymous with watershed groups—1) the need for funding to pay the salary of a full-time coordinator and 2) the limited funding available for project management. The Cooperative Watershed Management Program provides financial incentives to mitigate these concerns and to encourage diverse stakeholders to continue to work together.

The Cooperative Watershed Management Program will provide financial assistance to form new watershed groups, to enlarge existing watershed groups, and/or to conduct one or more projects in accordance with the goals of watershed groups. Priority may be given to watershed groups that represent maximum diversity of interests and serve sub-basin-sized watersheds with an 8-digit hydrological unit code, as defined by USGS.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar established the WaterSMART program in February 2010 – the SMART in WaterSMART stands for “Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow” – in cooperation with Commissioner Connor, Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. WaterSMART grants are given for water and energy efficiency projects, system optimization reviews, advanced water treatment pilot and demonstration projects and for the development of climate analysis tools.

To learn more about the Cooperative Watershed Management Program or WaterSMART, please visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.

More Reclamation coverage here.

The Department of Interior has released the final 50-State America’s Great Outdoors Report

americasgreatoutdoorsfiftystatereportnovember2011cover.jpg

We humans love being in and around water and this report underscores that association with the majority of projects dealing with waterways and wetlands. Here’s the link to the report. Here’s the release:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today released a final 50-State America’s Great Outdoors Report outlining more than 100 of the country’s most promising projects designed to protect special places and increase access to outdoor spaces. The full report – which contains two projects per state – comes as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative to establish a community-based, 21st century agenda for conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors.

“We have listened to the American people and their elected representatives about the most important things we can do to conserve our land and water and reconnect people, especially young people, to the outdoors,” Salazar said. “These projects represent what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the nation.”

The full list released today includes:

24 projects to restore and provide recreational access to rivers and other waterways – such as establishing the Connecticut River as a National Blueway and expanding recreational opportunities at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the Twin Cities;

23 projects to construct new trails or improve recreational sites – such as completing gaps in the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin and expanding the multi-use Shingle Creek Trail in Florida;

20 projects that will create and enhance urban parks – such as rehabilitating wetlands habitat and building new outdoor recreational opportunities on Chicago’s South Side and increasing river access at Roberto Clemente State Park and restoring the Harlem River in the Bronx; and

13 projects that will restore and conserve America’s most significant landscapes – such as conserving Montana’s Crown of the Continent, establishing the Flint Hills of Kansas as a new easement-based conservation area, and conserving the native grasslands of North and South Dakota.

The list also includes 11 initiatives requested by states to establish new national wildlife refuges, national park units and other federal designations; five projects that will assist states and communities to protect key open space; and five initiatives to educate young people and connect them to nature.

The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities. Key stakeholders that were engaged in the conversation included private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation groups.

Interior Department agencies will work with states and communities to advance the projects with existing resources through technical support and with their administrative authorities, and coordinate among each of its key bureaus – including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – and, where possible, other federal agencies, to direct available resources and personnel to make tangible progress on these projects. They will also partner with states and communities to leverage grants, private funding and other resources.

In the next month, the Secretary will identify a Department official to lead each project. Those individuals will be held accountable for the development of an action plan, in collaboration with local stakeholders; and the advancement of that plan during the next year.

When President Obama launched the AGO last year, he assigned the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to lead the initiative.

Based on the extensive listening sessions, the federal agencies submitted to the President “America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations,” a report which defines an action plan for conservation and recreation in the 21st century.

Among the goals set forth in the report were better focusing the conservation and recreation efforts of the federal government by creating and enhancing urban parks and green spaces, renewing and restoring rivers, and conserving large, rural landscapes.

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government’s role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”

To view the full report, see below or click here.

To download a PDF of the report, click here.

To view a map of the projects announced, click here.

For more information on the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, click here.

Here’s the description of the Rocky Mountain Greenway project in Colorado from the report:

As a result of decades of private, local, state, and federal investment, significant areas of open land are now protected and available for public use in and around the Denver metropolitan area. This investment includes establishment of 40,000 acres of parks and open space, creation of over 140 miles of trails, and completion of water quality and recreation improvements within the Denver metro greenway system. There has been significant federal, state, and local investment in the cleanup and restoration of the Rocky Flats and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuges, as well as private and public investment in the creation of Confluence and Commons parks in the Central Platte Valley in Denver. An investment of $100 million in these environmental and recreational improvements has created an estimated $10 billion of related economic benefits.

To maximize the benefit of these disparate assets, federal, state, and local partners want to create links to creeks, river corridors, and local, state, and federal parks and open space areas. The state and DOI are joining forces to create a “Rocky Mountain Greenway”—a system of uninterrupted trails linking the three national wildlife refuges in the metro region (Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Two Ponds NWR, and Rocky Flats NWR) and other trail systems in the Denver Metro Region. The NPS also will explore creating connections from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Denver metro area.

Potential Action: Provide technical and financial support to connect the three national wildlife refuges in the metro region. Provide financial assistance for water quality and riparian habitat improvements and for work to extend trails and open space along the South Platte River and Sand Creek Greenway.

Partners: FWS, NPS, State of Colorado, local governments, and nonprofit and private sector partners.

Here’s the description of the Yampa River Basin project from the report:

The Yampa River Basin in northwestern Colorado is one of the most hydrologically and biologically intact watersheds in the West. As the largest naturally flowing river in Colorado, the Yampa hosts high-quality recreational experiences for boaters and fisherman. It provides roosting and nesting habitat for the sandhill crane, blue heron, and bald eagle. The river is also vital winter habitat for Colorado’s second largest elk herd, and large deer herds, making the area a world-class hunting destination.

Good stewardship and conservation of these lands and waters—both public and private—is critical to ensuring strong local economies built around ranching, wildlife, and recreation that contribute greatly to the economic and ecological health of the state of Colorado and the Colorado River basin as a whole. Two recent successes in the area include 61,485 acres of private land on 131 different properties that have been placed under conservation easement and extensive public and private investment in the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The creation of the Yampa River State Park, the reconstruction of important buildings at Dinosaur National Monument, and recreation improvements at Elkhead Reservoir are the first of many steps that will help spur tourism, recreation, jobs, and greater public use, all goals of AGO. The stronger and better coordination among governments at all levels and local communities afforded by AGO will help leverage current resources to increase the pace and scale of future accomplishments, including voluntary conservation of working agriculture lands, invest- ment in forest management and wildlife corridors, and support for a diverse and sustainable outdoor recreation economy.

Potential action: Support the acquisition of conservation easements from willing sellers. Increase efforts to control invasive vegetation that seriously threatens important river val- ues, and work at the headwaters of the river to conserve and promote important fisheries.

Partners: BLM, FWS, NPS, State of Colorado, county and local governments, land conservation groups, veterans organizations, and youth corps.

More coverage from Wendy Koch writing for USA Today. From the article:

To reconnect Americans to nature, the Obama administration is promoting 100 projects nationwide — two in each states — such as new urban parks, wildlife refuges and walking trails as well as completing gaps in Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail and restoring the Bronx’ Harlem River.

The projects are part of President Obama’s Great Outdoors Initiative, announced last year, and result from 50 meetings between state leaders and senior federal officials. They won’t receive new federal funding but technical support and guidance.

The Fountain Creek Master Plan was the topic of discussion at Friday’s meeting of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District

fountaincreek.jpg

Here’s a in-depth report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

A corridor master plan Friday was combed over by the citizens advisory group to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board. The panel could not agree on whether a dam or series of dams is needed to protect projects that beautify the creek with trails and parks on Fountain Creek, a normally gentle stream prone to occasional violent floods. There also was no consensus on whether water quality should be improved before or after people are encouraged to enjoy the water…

The corridor plan addresses just the area in the flood plain between Pueblo and Colorado Springs, and is aimed at projects that will fit within the $50 million the district expects to receive five years from now. The district also needs to have projects that could convince voters to approve a mill levy when the time comes, said Larry Small, general manager of the district…

A dam on Fountain Creek could require moving railroad tracks and Interstate 25 or acquiring private land. A series of dams could be built on any of 21 tributaries along Fountain Creek and would be easier to clear as they periodically filled with sediment, Ready said. “You need a greenway so the creek can meander to slow down the water,” [Tom Ready, a Pueblo member of the committee] said. “You need to keep construction away from the creek. But no big dam will ever work.”[…]

[Larry Howe-Kerr of Better Pueblo] questioned the wisdom of drawing people to the creek if the water quality remains impaired. Small, Ready and others on the committee said the corridor plan does recommend actions that would improve water quality. They said recreation on the creek would get people to care about it, and does not necessarily mean coming in contact with the water…

The district is awaiting information from a U.S. Geological Survey study of the impact dams would have on Fountain Creek. In addition, Colorado Springs is developing a stormwater criteria manual which the district wants other communities to consider as well. It won’t be finalized until 2013. A white paper that looks at a comprehensive stormwater plan for El Paso County communities also is being drafted and should be presented to the district in the near future.

Meanwhile, two technical advisory committee meetings are on the horizon to discuss dam proposals and water rights issues on the creek, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The technical advisory committee of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District will discuss the U.S. Geological Survey study of Fountain Creek dams at 10 a.m. Nov. 30 at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments office, 15 S. Seventh St., Colorado Springs.

The committee will have a panel discussion of water rights by experts from various organizations at 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at Fountain City Hall.

The USGS study is looking at the impacts of putting dams at various points along Fountain Creek to control floods. The study would not design or recommend dams, but is designed to measure the effectiveness of single projects or combinations of projects. The study is expected to be ready for review late next year and completed in 2013. The study is funded, in part, by $300,000 from Colorado Springs Utilities as a condition of the Pueblo County 1041 permit for the Southern Delivery System.

The water rights discussion is needed as the district and its partners develop demonstration projects for Fountain Creek, said Dennis Maroney, chairman of the technical committee.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.