Restoration: Park County is awaiting word from Great Outdoors Colorado on $3.57 million grant

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From The Fairplay Flume (Mike Potter):

Tom Eisenman, director of Park County Planning and Zoning and also Park County Environmental Health, said the county submitted a concept paper in October to GOCO outlining its plans for a project that would target 11 miles of rivers to provide better access, environmental restoration, and improving habitat for wildlife. According to its website, GOCO has allocated $14 million to $18 million in funds for the River Corridors Initiative. GOCO is funded by 50 percent of the proceeds from the Colorado lottery. Eisenman said the county should know within the first two weeks of December if it will be asked to submit a grant proposal…

Eisenman and others worked on a six-page concept paper that was submitted to GOCO on Oct. 14. According to the concept paper, the county proposes “increasing fishing and other recreation activities by restoring natural fish and wildlife habitat and by improving access with an expanded trail system that includes ‘river walks’ and educational opportunities.”

The concept paper calls for work to be done on the South Fork of the South Platte River from Antero Reservoir to one mile upstream, where overgrazing has damaged the riparian areas. Riparian areas are the interfaces between land and a river or stream. It also calls for work to be done on the South Fork of the South Platte River from one half mile below Antero Reservoir and continuing through Hartsel. Work in that stretch would include restoration of riparian and wetland habitat, and the creation of a river walk near Hartsel. Work is also proposed for a stretch of the South Fork of the South Platte upstream from Park County Road 59 and downstream of U.S. 24 below Hartsel. Work would also be completed on the Middle Fork of the South Platte River, upstream from Tomahawk State Wildlife Area to the boundary of the Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Work is also proposed for the South Platte River from Spinney Mountain Reservoir to Eleven Mile Reservoir, also known as the “Dream Stream.” Work on that stretch of the river would focus on restoring riparian conditions and channel stability. A river walk is also planned for the Middle Fork of the South Platte River from the Fairplay Beach downstream to U.S. 285. According to the concept paper, the town of Fairplay is negotiating with private landowners to gain public access from the Fairplay Beach downstream. In addition to the river walk, restoration would be conducted to repair damage done by mining. The plan also calls for work to be done on the Middle Fork of the South Platte River from Columbia Reservoir north of Alma to the town.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Wiggins: The town council moves the proposed water project forward

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

Tim Holbrook, operations manager for Industrial Facilities Engineering, Inc. and lead engineer on the water project, updated the council on how the project was progressing. “The USDA requirements are now met to the point we can have a pre-construction meeting,” Holbrook said. “Then, the start of construction can begin.” The pre-construction meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, with representatives from the town, IFE, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and approved contractors. It’s possible the ground-breaking on the project could be done that day, as well, according to Town Administrator Bill Rogers.

The town’s loan closing with the USDA is expected to be completed by mail around Nov. 23, according to Town Attorney Sam Light.

Holbrook said it will take at least eight months to build the water project. During that time, IFE resident inspector Mike Miller will be on site constantly, which was something required by the USDA…

The council took two votes related to the water project. The first approved a revised resolution reaffirming the town’s issuance of water revenue bonds for a little more than $3.3 million…

The second vote approved the amended budget for the water project. The change in the budget came from the town contribution rising from $121,000 to $351,002. But that was money the town has already spent on the project, Light said, not new money being approved. The council also approved awarding bids to four contractors for different parts of the water project construction. The bid awards would have to be followed up with contracts, but those contracts can’t be formalized until the loan has closed and the town has the money to pay out to the companies, according to Light…

The council awarded a bid for supply wells and pumps construction to Layne Construction Co. A bid for augmentation ponds construction was awarded to Connell Resources, Inc. Velocity Constructors, Inc. received the bid award for construction of the water treatment building. And the council awarded a bid for water pipeline construction to Reynolds, Inc.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.

U.S. Representative Scott Tipton says that proposed USFS permit conditions will result in an unlawful taking of property (water) rights

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Tipton said the requirement could affect water rights held by ski areas and ranchers, in particular. “Water rights established under state law are property rights for purposes of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Congress has not delegated to the Forest Service the authority to require permittees to transfer ownership of water rights to the United States as a permit condition,” Tipton wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack…

Tipton says the forest service does not have the authority to use permitting conditions to obtain federal ownership of water rights without just compensation and said the permit condition amounts to unlawfully taking property that violates Colorado water law.

More coverage from Reid Wright writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

“Because of the significant percentage of water that originates on national forest system lands in the West, such a change in policy would pose a threat to the current system of state allocation and administration of water rights,” Tipton wrote. “Our concern was that our ranchers need some of those water rights for watering holes and grazing,” Tipton said in a telephone interview, adding that secured water rights also are necessary for ski areas and recreation. Tipton said he was particularly concerned about the requirement in regard to water sources that originate off permit areas as well as water rights that predate the existence of the U.S. Forest Service.

Steve Segin, a public information officer for the Forest Service, said the requirement is designed to keep the water resource tied to the intended area so it cannot be sold and piped off to other areas. “It’s designed to protect the resource, not to take it away from anybody,” he said…

The issue is scheduled to be discussed by the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

More water law coverage here.

Fountain Creek: The federal appeals court in Denver refuses to grant a rehearing for Pueblo DA’s lawsuit over Springs’ sewage spills

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz):

In a petition for rehearing, Thiebaut’s attorneys listed several reasons why he thought the decision was wrong. Judges of the Denver-based appeals court were not persuaded and last week denied the petition. In accord with their standard practice, they gave no reason in their three-sentence order. Thiebaut wanted to have October’s decision overturned on rehearing so he could revive a 2005 lawsuit he filed against Colorado Springs. It alleged the city violated the Clean Water Act numerous times from at least 1998 by discharging raw sewage, nonpotable water and excessive chlorine into the creek.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.