Snowpack/forecast news: 7 inches of new snow at Beaver Creek, storm to hit mountains Wednesday #codrought #cowx

From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

The snowpack on Independence Pass, at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork above Aspen, stood at 61 percent of average Friday.

CFWE: 2013 Climate & Colorado’s Water Future Workshop


Click here to register. From the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

Bundle up and get ready to take a look inside the National Ice Core Laboratory. Join us along with fellow colleagues– water educators, scientists and others on Friday March 8 to tour the lab. We’ll learn how climate data is extracted from polar regions, receive interactive teaching tools and learn how climate impacts water resources and the environment. Take a look at the current agenda and Register now, space is limited.

Secondary teachers earn 1/2 course credit from Colorado School of Mines by participating in this workshop. Contact us for more information and for teacher registration.

More CFWE coverage here.

Woodland Park and Teller County gear up for Fountain Creek restoration project


From the Pikes Peak Courier-View (Norma Engelberg):

The first step was to convey portions of land Teller County that borders the creek to Woodland Park. These properties on Rosemount Road, Laura Lane and Sandy Wash of Fountain Creek were platted in 1948. They were deeded to the city because it is taking the lead on the project. An ordinance to make the deed transfer was approved on first reading at the Feb. 7 city council meeting. The county will consider the transfer at its Feb. 14 meeting and Woodland Park City Council will have its public hearing and second reading of the ordinance at its March 7 meeting.

The second step pertains to the East Fork of Fountain Creek, which runs from near Woodland Park High School to the creek’s main branch near the Auto Zone Store in Safeway Plaza. The East Fork goes under U.S. 24 and through an open ditch to the creek. The project will put the creek into a 72-inch pipe that will empty into the main branch of Fountain Creek.

In a resolution, council accepted a lump sum of $250,000 from Colorado Department of Transportation for its share of project costs. The city will pay the rest and will soon be seeking bids. Councilmember Eric Smith did not participate in the discussions and votes on both steps because he owns property that will be affected by the projects.

More Fountain Creek coverage here.

Chatfield Reallocation Project: Public comments help to delay EIS


From the Columbine Courier (Ramsey Scott):

Jeffco will have to wait until the end of the year before it can see an Army Corps of Engineers report on the proposed expansion of Chatfield Reservoir.

The controversial expansion would raise the reservoir by 12 feet and flood 600 acres to help meet the area’s rising water needs. The corps’ report was originally due at the end of 2012 but was delayed due to the extensive public comment on the project.

Monique Farmer, a senior spokeswoman for the corps, confirmed that the public unleashed a barrage of opinions about the plan.

More Chatfield Reservoir coverage here and here.

Sen. Udall, et al., introduce bill to reauthorize NIDIS #codrought



From The Greeley Tribune:

Five U.S. senators — including Mark Udall, D-Colo. — introduced bipartisan legislation this week to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System.

The system, a function of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides drought information to farmers, ranchers and other industries affected by weather conditions, according to the supporting senators.

“The effects of climate change and the severe ongoing drought are readily apparent in Colorado, where we have experienced lower crop yields, increased fire hazards and the lack of snowpack in the high country,” Udall said. “Improving our ability to forecast droughts will help farmers, ranchers and everyone who relies on water to better prepare for droughts’ devastating effects.”

The Drought Information Act would extend the program for five years and support an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system.

By increasing coordination with the USDA and private sector, this bill would also enhance the agriculture industry’s involvement in the program, Udall said.

Colorado’s rafting industry hopes this season will beat 2012 #codrought


From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

The Colorado River Outfitters Association held its annual convention earlier this month in Grand Junction. The organization, which represents about 50 licensed rafting outfitters across the state, said last year’s drop in user days — defined as a paying guest on a river for any part of a day — was the second-highest decline since the association began tracking the numbers in 1990. The biggest drop came in 2002, a season marked by drought and fire in Colorado; it also came in the wake of the 9/11 economic downturn. That year, user days were down 40 percent, according to the association.

The association’s annual report indicates that user days on the upper Roaring Fork River, a stretch that includes Slaughterhouse Falls below Aspen, plummeted from 6,672 in 2011 (a bountiful year for spring snowpack and river flows) to 112 last year. The decline on the Roaring Fork below Basalt was somewhat less pronounced — user days dropped from 912 in 2011 to 736 last year, the report said.

The upper Colorado River, including the popular stretch through Glenwood Canyon that includes the Shoshone rapid, actually saw an uptick in user days — from 32,842 in 2011 to 39,645 last year. Senior water calls on the Colorado kept the river flowing at decent levels throughout the season and attracted boaters who were displaced from other rivers…

Both the Colorado and Green rivers came through the 2012 season “unscathed,” according to the outfitters group.

The Arkansas River, on the far side of Independence Pass from Aspen and a destination for some local rafting companies, was also down in boater traffic last season, with 169,486 user days, compared with 208,329 in 2011…

Across Colorado, user days for rafting outfitters that are members of the statewide group numbered 411,100 last year. That translated to an economic impact of $127.5 million, down 15.7 percent from 2011, the Colorado River Outfitters Association calculated. The sum reflects user days, their direct expenditures on a rafting trip and the number of times those dollars are spent in a local area (2.56 times, according to the Colorado Tourism Board). Direct expenditures last year totaled $49.8 million, the outfitters association said.

The Arkansas River was the biggest economic generator in the Colorado rafting industry, with $20.5 million in direct expenditures last year, the association reported. The Colorado River in Glenwood was next, at $7.7 million. The Roaring Fork, including trips on all stretches of the river, generated about $102,000 in direct spending last year.