Larimer County, et al., score $5 million from Great Outdoors Colorado

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Larimer County and its partner cities of Fort Collins, Greeley, Windsor and Timnath will receive $5,098,150 for the Poudre River Corridor and Regional Trail Initiative, according to a press release from Kerri Rollins, Open Lands Program manager for Larimer County.

The grant will move the partners closer to completing their decades-long goal of “a regional swath of open spaces and connected trails along the river corridor,” the release said.

The money will fund the purchase of almost 1,000 acres of land along the Poudre and the construction of a trail overpass over Interstate 25 near Harmony Road in Timnath.

With the completion of the lottery-funded work, less than five miles of trail construction will remain in the 45-mile corridor from Bellvue northwest of Fort Collins to Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, according to the release.

Here’s a list of GOCo grants for Southern Colorado from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

Seven Southern Colorado projects were awarded $1.6 million by the Great Outdoors Colorado board Tuesday. A total of $37.3 million went to 42 projects throughout Colorado this grant cycle. Money comes from state lottery proceeds.

Mendenhall Ranch open space, Nature Conservancy, Otero County, $310,500.

Pritchett basketball court, Baca County, $28,215.

McClave Park improvements, Bent County, $161,377.

Conejos River Ranch open space, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, Conejos County, $420,000.

Los Caminos Farm open space, Colorado Open Lands, Costilla County, $420,500.

Lookout Mountain Park land acquisition, Del Norte, Rio Grande County, $132,350.

Ski-Hi Park Pavilion, Rio Grande County, $179,990…

A package of four projects along Fountain Creek won $2.52 million in state funds Tuesday. The Great Outdoors Colorado board awarded the money as part of its highly competitive River Corridor Initiative. Eight projects were awarded $24 million this year under the initiative. Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Fountain and El Paso County applied jointly for the funds, in a show of regional cooperation. The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District joined as well, because the projects also are included in various Fountain Creek improvement plans the district supports.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

IBCC: Next Flaming Gorge Task Force meeting Friday in Colorado Springs

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From email from Peak Facilitation Group (Heather Bergman):

…please find the agenda for Friday’s meeting of the Basin Roundtable Project Exploration Committee: Flaming Gorge. The meeting will be held from 10 am to 3 pm at the Pikes Peak Regional Council of Governments offices in Colorado Springs (15 S. 7th St..).

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

Crawford: Public Works and the Colorado Rural Water Association are working on the town’s source water protection plan

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

Colorado Rural Water Association is a nonprofit that provides technical assistance and operator training. The Town of Crawford is an association member. Balch and Mihelich will write an application for a $5,000 grant from the information provided by Bair. Balch said funding comes from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for each public water system to develop and implement a source water protection plan. There is a one-for-one match on the grant. The town’s share can be covered by in-kind donations after grant approval. The principle behind a protection plan is that it’s less expensive to protect source water than having to remove contaminants. Source water protection programs educate citizens on where their water comes from and how important it is to protect it…

The plan will have two phases. The first will provide an assessment report and a susceptibility rating for Crawford’s water source. The rating right now is good.

More Gunnison River basin coverage here.

USGS: Effects of Urban Stormwater-Management Strategies on Stream-Water Quantity and Quality

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Here’s the release from the United States Geological Survey (J.V. Loperfido/D.M. Hogan):

Urbanization results in elevated stormwater runoff, greater and more intense streamflow, and increased delivery of pollutants to local streams and downstream aquatic systems such as the Chesapeake Bay. Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) are used to mitigate these effects of urban land use by retaining large volumes of stormwater runoff (water quantity) and removing pollutants in the runoff (water quality). Current USGS research aims to understand how the spatial pattern and connectivity of stormwater BMPs affect water quantity and water quality in urban areas.

More stormwater coverage here.

US Forest Service celebrates 75 years of national grasslands, National Grasslands Week June 17-23

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Here’s the release from the U.S. Forest Service:

The U.S. Forest Service will celebrate National Grasslands Week from June 17-23, showcasing the beauty, history and economic value of these national treasures on the 75th anniversary of the legislation that established them.

America’s 20 national grasslands, spanning 12 states and 4 million acres, were created through the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937, authorizing the federal government to acquire damaged lands for rehabilitation. Thirteen of these national grasslands reside in the Great Plains, where the ravages of the Dust Bowl left the soil bare of vegetation for years. Today, the benefits grasslands provide are valued in the billions of dollars.

“Our national grasslands remain beautiful examples of successful restoration programs,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “These lands are once again rich habitats brimming with native wildlife, grasses and wildflowers. They are also economic engines, generating jobs and bolstering rural American communities.”

The national grasslands offer a wealth of recreation and education opportunities for more than 1 million annual visitors. The grasslands feature some of the world’s best bird-watching experiences as well as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, target shooting, off-highway vehicle riding, picnicking and learning activities. Scenic drives offer unique geological features, wildlife and stellar locations for stargazing.

History buffs can visit old cemeteries and homesteads and take guided tours of Native American petroglyphs. They can also share in the experience of early settlers and their trek on the Santa Fe Trail.

“It took decades to restore the national grasslands from the barren landscapes of the Dust Bowl, to the rich prairie habitats we see today,” said Tidwell. “Every American should experience these unique grasslands that are so much a part of our rich natural heritage.”

The national grasslands provide tremendous benefits including pollination of native and agricultural plants estimated at $6 billion annually. Livestock grazing and energy ventures including oil, gas, coal and wind also contribute to the economic benefits provided by these lands. They help prevent drought and floods, maintain biodiversity, generate and preserve soils, contribute to climate stability and protect watersheds, streams and river channels.

These lands were managed by the USDA’s Soil and Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, until 1960 when they were transferred to the U.S. Forest Service and designated as national grasslands.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

Runoff/drought news: Endangered fish program is short of water to operate some infrastructure this season

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

… in key tributaries like the Yampa, and the fish could take another hit because there won’t be enough water during parts of the summer to operate fish passages that enable species like the Colorado pikeminnow to reach spawning areas.

Biologists said suspending operation of the fish passages this summer will have a short-term impact on the endangered fish, but are more concerned about long-term impacts if the drought lasts another year.
The endangered species evolved over millennia to survive extreme high and extreme low flows, but human activities have hit hard at the low end of the range, resulting in conditions that can’t sustain populations without help — like the fish ladders. Overall, recovery program leaders say they’ll manage the little bit water they do have based on experience from the drought in the early 2000s. “We’ve been there before,” program director Tom Chart said in a previous interview, explaining that this year’s low flows will likely result in a temporary setback for recovery efforts, especially in tributaries like the Yampa River…

In a release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically identified the Grand Valley Irrigation Company Fish Passage, Grand Valley Project Fish Passage, and the Price-Stubb Fish Passage, all in western Colorado. The passages were built as part of the recovery program to give the fish access to important habitat extending from Lake Powell to Rifle on the Colorado River and from Grand Junction to Delta on the Gunnison River.

On the Colorado River, agricultural irrigators in the Grand Valley are operating fish screens on their canals when conditions permit. The screens serve a dual purpose of preventing fish from entering canals and benefiting canal operations by reducing debris loads in the canals. “We have a history of cooperation with the Recovery Program that helps our water users and the endangered fish,” said Richard Proctor, manager of the Grand Valley Water Users Association.

The Recovery Program is also coordinating with the Redlands Water and Power Company on operating procedures for the Redlands Fish Passage and Screen, located on the Gunnison River. The Recovery Program is working to minimize impacts to water deliveries to Redlands irrigators while continuing to operate the fish passage and fish screen, as conditions allow.

From Steamboat Today (Scott Franz):

“It’s a brutal year, and I don’t have anything good to say other than it is what it is,” [Pete Van De Carr] the owner of Backdoor Sports said Sunday as the river behind him ran at 111 cubic feet per second, well below its average flow of 1,810 cfs for June 17. According to a National Weather Service forecast, the Yampa River could slow to 85 cfs in Steamboat Springs as early as Wednesday. Once the river falls below that threshold, it essentially closes to recreation to protect wildlife and the river’s habitat.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

The Front Range Water Council has its eyes on water requirements for oil shale exploration and production

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Water supply planning requires forecasting demand decades into the future. The Front Range Water Council is wary of water requirements for oil shale — the “Next Big Thing” for over a hundred years now — since many of the water rights that oil companies have purchased are senior to most of the large transmountain diversion projects. Here’s a report from the Colorado News Service (Kathleen Ryan) via The Fowler Tribune. From the article:

Jim Lochhead, president of the group and CEO of Denver Water, says half of the Denver water supply comes from the Colorado River, and he’s worried that oil shale production could overtax the river’s resources. “We’re concerned that the BLM and the United States not go too far too fast in their leasing program, before really understanding and quantifying these impacts on the river.”[…]

According to a report from Western Resource Advocates, oil and gas companies hold some rights to Colorado River water which predate the rights held by cities for drinking water. The BLM is expected to have a new plan in place by the end of the year.

More oil shale coverage here and here.