Waldo Canyon Fire: Photo of the flames cresting the ridge above the Air Force Academy #WaldoCanyonFire #CODrought


Flagstaff Fire media briefing at 8:30 PM #FlagstaffFire

Water Lease Could Wet the Yampa River

Water Lease Could Wet the Yampa River.

Colorado River: ‘Lake Powell to Lake Powell’ — Zachary Podmore


Zach Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris are at it again, this time journeying from Lake Powell above Grand Lake to Lake Powell in Utah. Readers may remember their journey last fall and winter down the Green River to the Colorado River to the Gulf of California, Source to Sea. Here’s a blog post written by Podmore running in the Huffington Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Lake Powell. You may have heard of it. It’s a picturesque alpine lake nestled in the craggy peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fed by snowmelt and seated in a bowl of exposed granite, the lake lies cold and clear well above 11,000 feet. Lake Powell is the Rocky Mountains at their best: pristine, rugged and wild. No trail makes its way down from the lake but a creek does. It flows out of Powell over a series of waterfalls, which pour down a giant staircase of rock ledges. In the alpine meadows below, the stream meanders through swampy grass where moose abound.

If you follow that creek 500 miles and nearly 8,000 vertical feet downstream, you’ll end up in the middle of another, more famous, Lake Powell that stretches across much of southern Utah. The two lakes don’t have much in common save the name and their shared waters. One Powell is the second largest reservoir in the country, filling the sandstone walls of Glen Canyon. The other is about as close to a perfect source of the Colorado River as you can get. Situated well above tree line, this Powell marks the beginning of the North Inlet creek, which feeds Grand Lake below. Both the lakes take their name from John Wesley Powell, the one-armed civil war veteran who was the first known explorer to climb Longs Peak in Colorado and to navigate much of the Colorado River, including Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

More Colorado River basin coverage here and here.

Drought news: Fish in White River stressed by low streamflow #CODrought


Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Due to low flows in the White River, Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers are requesting that anglers fish only during the cooler, early morning hours, or to look for alternative fishing locations that are not as significantly affected by the current climate conditions.

An official, voluntary closure like the one implemented on the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs last week is not currently planned for the White River. Wildlife managers hope to avoid an official closure by asking for voluntary cooperation from local anglers.

“The current situation is very stressful for fish,” said Bill de Vergie, Area Wildlife Manager in Meeker. “We ask the public to help us protect this fishery by honoring our request and avoid it during the hottest part of the day, or perhaps find a cooler, higher-altitude fishery.”

Wildlife officials have observed water temperatures approaching dangerous levels for cold-water fish in the White River during the early afternoon and evening. Although water temperatures dip into the 50s overnight, the high daytime temperatures are a source of concern. Under these stressful conditions, hooked fish may experience mortality even if released quickly back into the water.

It could take several years for an affected fishery to fully recover if a significant number of fish die due to the drought-like conditions

Like many rivers and streams in western Colorado, the White River offers world-class fishing and attracts thousands of anglers each year, providing a source of income to hotels, outfitters and many other local businesses that depend on outdoor recreation.

“Because of the importance of the river to our community, we believe that most anglers will cooperate,” said de Vergie. “As soon as we see a shift in the weather pattern, people will once again enjoy the great fishing in the White River.”

For more information about fishing in places not affected by low flows, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/Fishing.aspx

Colorado Parks and Wildlife was created by the merger of Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, two nationally recognized leaders in conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife management. Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado’s wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs.

More White River basin coverage here and here.

Rainwater harvesting: Don’t collect the water (that’s not legal), redirect it


From the Boulder Daily Camera (Carol O’Meara):

Before bemoaning the lack of rain barrels, consider an alternative, says landscape designer, Alison Peck. What you can do is channel rainwater coming off your roof into the landscape so that it flows to thirsty plants and stores in the soil. There, plants can access the water as summer heat dries the land.

“The interesting thing is that we’ve always been told you can’t use rainwater, but there’s nothing illegal about collecting rainwater in the landscape, storing it in the soil,” says Peck, a founding member of the Front Range Sustainable Coalition. “You can’t put rainwater in containers, but are they really helpful? Think about how small an area can survive on rain barrels, which only hold about 30 to 50 gallons.”

Generally, you can store between a 1/4-21/2 inches of water in your soil, but to make use of it you need plants with deep root systems, like natives, says Peck, an Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado member (alcc.org). As you plan your rain redirection, look over your landscape for the location of the plants with big root systems — perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees.

More conservation coverage here.

Yampa River: Deal brokered by the Colorado Water Trust to bolster flows #CODrought


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The dim outlook for the Yampa River in this summer of drought just got a little brighter, thanks to a water deal announced this week by the Colorado Water Trust, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board…

Under a law passed back in 2003 in response to the last serious statewide drought, the water trust will lease 4,000 acre feet of water stored in Stagecoach Reservoir to try and sustain some flows in the Yampa, in the worst-case scenario potentially preventing the river from going dry.

The water will be released strategically to meet hydropower demands and for streamflow benefits below the reservoir. The water trust has been working on the short-term water leasing pilot program, Request for Water 2012, for about three months…

The water trust will lease the Yampa River water for about $35 per acre foot, for a total of $140,000…

“When we saw the CWT Request for Water 2012, we thought it would be a great opportunity for collaboration in meeting multiple needs during this drought year, and the Upper Yampa Board is fully supportive of meeting multiple needs,” said district manager Kevin McBride.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Two water agencies and a conservation organization have engineered a lease allowing 4,000-acre feet of cold water from Stagecoach Reservoir to be gradually released in an effort to revive the river.

The Colorado Water Trust announced Monday it had reached an agreement with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, which owns the reservoir, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to lease the water and send it downstream.

“We’ll start making releases when we can ensure it will supply the benefit we hope it will,” Colorado Water Trust staff attorney Zach Smith said.

His organization will spend $35 per acre-foot to lease the water from Stagecoach, or about $140,000, Smith confirmed. The agreement marks the first-ever implementation of a 2003 statute designed to protect Colorado’s rivers in times of drought.

If the Trust were to release the water steadily, it is estimated it would generate a flow of about 26.5 cubic feet per second from July 1 through the middle of September — perhaps not enough to restore recreation in the form of tubing on the town stretch of the river, but enough to protect the resource. The Yampa was flowing at 69 cfs late Monday afternoon compared to a median flow for the date of 1,000 cfs.

More Yampa River coverage here.

Drought news: Senators Udall and Bennet pen letter to Ag Secretary Vilsack asking for drought help #CODrought


from The Pueblo Chieftain (Loretta Sword):

The senators’ letter voiced concerns from Colorado agricultural producers to protect against severe financial and operational losses. “As producers continue to operate under what the U.S. Drought Monitor has found to be extreme drought conditions in much of the state, it is critical that we deploy the resources necessary that might minimize the damages from this looming threat,” the letter says. It calls for all available resources to address the growing threat to Colorado’s agricultural community.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony A. Mestas):

As fires continue to scorch Colorado, the Pueblo Fire Department and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office have ordered stricter fire restrictions countywide. At 5 p.m. Monday, Pueblo County adopted Stage II fire restrictions banning the sale and use of fireworks…

Sheriff Kirk Taylor said in a statement that because of the extreme heat over the past six days, data has changed significantly and now compels Pueblo County to act immediately to protect the community. “The conditions on the ground turned 180 degrees in less than a week. I am reinforcing to the citizens and guests of Pueblo the fire danger is far too high to take any chances,” Taylor said.