Colorado Springs: DARCA 2012 Annual Convention, February 22-24


Here’s the link to the web page for the convention. Here’s the link to the registration form and agenda. Here’s the link to the pre-convention workshop agenda.

Record high temperature at the South Pole on Christmas Day


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

A short-lived heat wave of sorts brought a record high temperature of 9.9 degrees to the South Pole on Christmas day, according to a report in the Antarctic Sun, the newspaper of the U.S. Antarctic Program.

The old record of 7.5 degrees was set Dec. 27, 1978. Several other stations nearby also climbed into the teens, breaking previous record highs that were in the single digits.

Part I of the series, ‘Water 101: The evolution of water use in the northern San Luis Valley’ from the Crestone Eagle


Here’s Part I from Marty Shellabarger writing for The Crestone Eagle. Click through for the whole article and cool photo slideshow. Here’s an excerpt:

Diverting water from natural flood plains meant more water consumption and evaporation. Perennial San Luis Creek marshlands dried out somewhat, creating more harvestable grass meadows. Once, Saguache County had the highest US workforce percentage producing grass hay, abundantly exported after railroads came in the 1890s. Moffat, the major shipping station for cattle in these parts, had numerous corrals holding thousands of cows. In the silver-boom years just after 1900, Moffat was even a candidate for capitol of Colorado.

Mountain reservoirs maintaining year-round livestock was status quo here for 90 years … until center-pivot sprinkler irrigation in the 1960s utilized our second great reservoir, the aquifers. That—along with large-bore water drilling, new pumps and the electricity to power them—would begin to change everything in our valley.

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

Metropolitan State College is adding a water studies minor, ‘designed to deepen students’ understanding of water as a critical resource’


From (Caitlin Johnson):

“Water is a central issue in Colorado,” said Sandra Haynes, Dean of the School of Profession Studies at Metro. “Explosive residential development along the Front Range is rapidly depleting the Denver basin’s aquifers.”

“Water stewardship and sustainability is an especially important and responsible education topic,” said Haynes. The One World, One Water Center’s pilot program is “designed to deepen students’ understanding of water as a critical resource that must be sustained and conserved for all,” said Haynes.

The main function of the Water Studies program is to enhance water stewardship on and beyond the campus by promoting effective use of water resources. Classes will involve education on issues such as urban waterway restoration, water law, hydro-philanthropy, conflict resolution, conservation, and stream reclamation.

More education coverage here.

Part one of series examining mine reclamation from the Pikes Peak Courier View


Here’s a report detailing some of the challenges and regulations around reclaiming mine sites, from Norma Engelberg writing for the Pikes Peak Courier View. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

“When you file a mining claim, you have to submit a notice of intent to conduct exploration or prospecting,” [Tony Waldron, supervisor of the minerals program at the state mine reclamation office] said. “A lot of information is submitted with the notice of intent — how much topsoil will be removed, what the predisturbance biology looks like, whether there is any surface water and how you plan to explore the site.”[…]

“It’s all about showing us what’s there now and what you plan to put back,” Waldron said. “A lot of people use ‘restoration’ and ‘reclamation’ interchangeably but restoration means putting the land back exactly like it was. You’re never going to be able to do that. Reclamation means returning the land to a beneficial use. That could mean creating grazing land or wildlife habitat but it could also mean creating a parking lot or building homes on it.”

Along with all the information required, the prospective miner also has to submit a reclamation bond, the cost of which is based on how much land disturbance the mine will create and the cost of the worst-case scenario — the state stepping in to reclaim the site.

“Currently the state is holding about $423 million on reclamation bonds,” Waldron said. “About half of that belongs to a couple of big mines, the rest comes from smaller mines. A big mine might pay $100 million or more; a small mine’s bond might be anywhere from a $15,000 to $30,000.”
Waldron’s office also provides advice on planting mixtures and timetables.

“Reclamation takes time — three to five years at least,” he said. “In Colorado’s climate and terrain, plants take a while to become established but if you follow the timetables for planting you’ll probably be successful in most (non-drought) years.”

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

Happy New Year


Happy New Year to you and yours. Thanks to everyone for reading Coyote Gulch and for the cool words of encouragement when I’m lucky enough to meet one of you.

John Stulp: ‘The year 2012 is a milestone for water in our state’


Here’s a guest column written by John Stulp — Governor Hickenlooper’s water wonk — running in The Pueblo Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:

The year 2012 is a milestone for water in our state. It’s the 75th anniversary of the legislation that created many of the organizations that built the foundation for the management of Colorado’s water resources, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. In addition, the Rio Grande Reservoir celebrates its 100th year, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, the Lower Arkansas River Water Conservancy District will mark its 10-year anniversary and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will be turning 10 as well.

Over the next year, these big anniversaries will be linked together by a statewide project called “Colorado Water 2012.” The goal is to connect Coloradans to their water.

I welcome all your readers to check in each Sunday for the next 52 weeks, as we chronicle the activities of water users, in their businesses and livelihoods.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.