Water 2012 Book Club discussion starts up tomorrow: First up, ‘The Colorado River Flowing Through Conflict’

thecoloradoriverflowingthroughconflictcoverpetermcbridejonathanwaterman.jpg

Here’s the link to the Your Water Colorado Blog where the discussion will take place for The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict by Peter McBride and Jonathan Waterman. From the blog:

…online discussion of the featured 2012 books, beginning with Waterman and McBride’s the Colorado River Flowing Through Conflict tomorrow, February 1– here on Your Water Colorado Blog.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Conservation in the West poll: Western voters across political spectrum agree — public lands are essential to our economy

eisenhowerfishing.jpg

Here’s the release from the State of the Rockies Project:

The results from the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll find that western voters across the political spectrum – from Tea Party supporters to those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement and voters in- between – view parks and public lands as essential to their state’s economy, and support upholding and strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife.

The survey, completed in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), found that swing voters across the west – who will be key to deciding the outcome of a number of U.S. Senate and governors’ races, and possibly the presidential race – nearly unanimously agree that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are “an essential part” of the economies of these states. Four in five western voters view having a strong economy and protecting land and water as compatible.

Two-thirds of Western voters say America’s energy policy should prioritize expanding use of clean renewable energy and reducing our need for more coal, oil and gas. Even in states like Wyoming and Montana, which are more often associated with fossil fuels, voters view renewable energy as a local job creator.

Survey results are a sharp contrast to the energy and environmental debates currently happening in Washington, and in many state capitals. “Western voters consistently believe that conservation helps create and protect jobs for their states,” said Dave Metz. “In fact, by a 17 point margin, voters are more likely to say that environmental regulations have a positive impact on jobs in their state rather than a negative one.”

Seven in 10 Western voters support implementation of the Clean Air Act, and updating clean air standards. They see regulations designed to protect land, air, water and wildlife as having positive impact on public safety (70 percent), the natural beauty of their state (79 percent) and their quality of life (72 percent).

The survey also found strong approval ratings for most governors in the region, and an electorate divided in hotly-contested U.S. Senate races in Montana and New Mexico. Key swing voters in these contests often express pro-conservation views.

“What we read in the press and what politicians say about an ever-sharpening trade-off between environment and jobs in a deep recession do not square with views of many western voters,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Instead, those stubborn westerners continue to defy stereotypes, by arguing that a livable environment and well-managed public lands can be — in fact must be — compatible with a strong economy.”

The survey results echo the sentiments of more than 100 economists, including three Nobel Laureates and Dr. Hecox, who recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to create and invest in new federal protected lands such as national parks, wilderness and monuments. Studies have shown that together with investment in education and access to markets, protected public lands are significant contributors to economic growth.

Similarly, western voters voiced support for continued funding of conservation, indicating that even with tight state budgets, they want to maintain investments in parks, water, and wildlife protection. When specific local issues were tested with voters in some states – such as increasing the state’s renewable energy standard in Montana, establishing national monument protections for the Arkansas River canyon in Colorado, and updating energy standards for new homes in Utah – voters want to actually strengthen protections.

While there are geographic and partisan distinctions on a number of key issues, such as energy development on public lands, the data show that the broad conservation values uniting westerners are much more prevalent than the occasional issues that divide them.

“The depth and breadth of the connection between westerners and the land is truly remarkable – – when people are telling us that public lands are essential to their economy, and that they support continued investments in conservation, even in these difficult economic times,” said Lori Weigel. “Westerners are telling us that we’ve got to find a way to protect clean air, clean water, and parks in their states.”

The 2012 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 2,400 registered voters in six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) January 2 through 5 & 7, 2012, and yields a margin of error of + 2.0 percent nationwide and +4.9 statewide.

The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the Colorado College website.

More coverage from Tim Hooper writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Other findings from the poll showed:

• 78 percent of Coloradans said that the state can protect land and water and have a strong economy at the same time.

• 93 percent agreed that, “Our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an essential part of Colorado’s economy.”

• 63 percent of Colorado voters view environmental laws more as “important safeguards to protect private property owners, public health and taxpayers from toxic pollution and costly clean-ups” while 29 percent see them as “burdensome regulations that tie up industry in red tape, hurt them too much financially, and cost jobs.”

• 75 percent say Colorado should maintain protections for land, air and water in the state rather than reduce them in an effort to create jobs as quickly as possible.

• Only 34 percent said that, “One of the best ways to create jobs is to cut back environmental regulations that are weighing down Colorado’s businesses.”

• 71 percent support the EPA “continuing to implement the Clean Air Act by updating the standards for air quality, including for smog, dust, and emissions from power plants, factories and cars.”

More coverage from the Colorado Independent (Scot Kersgaard):

A full 67 percent of Colorado voters identify themselves as conservationists, including 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents. A whopping 93 percent say parks and open space are essential to the state’s economy.

The results from the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll find that Western voters across the political spectrum – from Tea Party supporters to those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement and voters in-between – support upholding and strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife…

Two-thirds of Western voters say America’s energy policy should prioritize expanding use of clean renewable energy and reducing the need for more coal, oil and gas. Even in states like Wyoming and Montana, which are more often associated with fossil fuels, voters view renewable energy as a local job creator according to the survey…

Seventy-six percent want state Lottery funds to continue to be used to protect parks, wildlife habitat, and natural areas and school construction, instead of being redirected to the general state education budget. Sixty-six percent support protection of some of the lands in the Arkansas River Canyon as a national monument…

“Investments in conservation of our public lands and water are not only critical to providing quality hunting and fishing opportunities, but also a critical component of the $192 billion sportsmen contribute to our national economy annually,” said Gaspar Perricone, co-director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Sportsmen and women continue to value a stubborn stewardship of our natural places and the recreational opportunities those places provide.”[…]

In Colorado, 66 percent of hunters identified themselves as conservationists, 75 percent of anglers identified that way. Asked whether environmental regulations have a positive or negative impact on jobs in the state, 44 percent said the effect was positive, compared with 29 percent who thought regulations were bad for the job market.

More conservation coverage here.

Climax mine to open this quarter

climaxmine.jpg

From The Leadville Herald (Marcia Martinek):

The Climax Mine will be up and running sometime in this quarter, according to officials at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), mine owner, who discussed the mine start-up during the earnings report for fourth quarter 2011, held on Jan. 19. Construction of the $700 million in mine improvements is now 95 percent complete…

FCX is projecting production of 80-million pounds of molybdenum this year. Thornton said about 7 million of these pounds will come from Climax, which eventually can produce up to 30 million pounds a year.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Snowpack news: Statewide snowpack is approximately 73% of average, South Platte — 81%, Rio Grande — 83%

usdroughtmonitor01302012

Click on the thumbnail graphic for yesterday’s statewide snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Click here to zero in on your basin of interest.

Meanwhile here’s a summary of snowmaking efforts around the west from The Durango Telegraph:

With warm temperatures and scarce snow, winter has been long for snowmaking crews at most Western ski resorts. For many, the work typically ends by Christmas or at least early January.

Not this year. Snowmaking continues even as storms have now arrived.

With the rockiest start to winter in decades, many resorts will probably re-evaluate investments in water, snowguns and other infrastructure, say ski industry officials.

“Snowmaking is something you can never take for granted,” says Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association and a former supervisor of snowmaking crews. “It takes constant upgrading, constant improvements, constant effort to improve your water rights. And just when you think you don’t need it, you will need it the most,” he added.

Spanked by two hard-luck winters in 1976-77 and 1980-81, most Colorado destination ski areas invested heavily in snowmaking.

This investment paid off this year for Steamboat. Despite warm nights that idled snowmaking crews in November and December, the ski area had 1,900 acres, or 65 percent, of the terrain open at Christmas. That was among the best in Colorado. Only two ski areas, Durango Mountain Resort and Wolf Creek, both in the southwestern tier, were 100 percent open.

Last summer, Steamboat bought seven new energy-efficient snowmaking guns, which use 30 percent less energy.

Water is another vital component of snowmaking. At Breckenridge, where snowmaking continued as of Jan. 21, the ski area had consumed 900 acre-feet, compared to the normal 700 to 750 acre-feet, according to Glenn Porzak, the resort’s water lawyer.

Not all resorts have substantial snowmaking, however. Particularly the ski areas along the crest of California’s Sierra Nevada. which suffered almost no natural snow and just thin ribbons of man-made.

“I don’t think I have ever been in a mountain area in the latter of part of January where there was so little snow,” said Porzak after a ski industry meeting at Squaw Valley. “It was brutal.”

Porzak has helped ski areas in Western states secure water rights for snowmaking since the 1970s. After every significant drought, ski areas have invested heavily in additional snowmaking capabilities. The more well-heeled have invested even when no drought is imminent.

This year, Porzak expects ski areas to engage in an intense re-evaluation of water needs and snowmaking infrastructure. The need is most obvious in Lake Tahoe, where fresh snow is often measured by the foot, not the inch.

This year, however, Squaw had just two runs covered with snow as of Jan. 19, the day before natural snow started arriving. Heavenly and Northstar both have sophisticated snowmaking systems, which put them in better stead for the tough early season this winter, says NSAA’s Berry.