From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
Six Garfield County streams, including three along the Mesa County line, are being proposed for instream flow protections. The Colorado Water Conservation Board will consider recommendations for stretches of the Dry Fork of Roan Creek west of De Beque, Beaver Creek south of Rifle, and East Divide Creek south of New Castle. The East Divide Creek stretch being targeted actually crosses into Mesa County, and the other two creeks are just north of the Mesa County line. Also up for consideration are the Left Fork of Carr Creek east of Douglas Pass, the East Fork of Parachute Creek on the Roan Plateau north of Parachute, and Meadow Creek north of New Castle.
State law allows the board to hold instream flow rights for purposes such as protecting recreation and fisheries, subject to limitations including that the rights don’t injure other water rights.
The Bureau of Land Management recommended the Left Fork of Carr Creek, East Fork of Parachute Creek and the Dry Fork of Roan Creek for the protections. “All three streams support native fish and riparian communities,” BLM official Roy Smith told Garfield County commissioners earlier this summer. They’re also all in western Garfield County, in areas of increasing oil and gas development.
The BLM has been investing in improvements on the Dry Fork of Roan Creek, which Smith said has leopard frogs, fish and a “pretty amazing aquatic insect community” to support those fish.
The other two creeks proposed by the BLM are in pristine condition, and Smith called the East Fork of Parachute Creek “one of the most beautiful places in Garfield County.” The creek sits in a canyon and includes a 200-foot waterfall. That creek is proposed for the highest instream flow rate of the three targeted by the BLM, at 5 cubic feet per second from April through June.
Smith said the overwhelming majority of BLM creeks with fisheries in Garfield County have instream flow designations.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommended the other three creeks for protections. Beaver Creek is a principal water source for the city of Rifle and also is home to brown trout and Colorado River cutthroat trout. East Divide Creek also contains Colorado River cutthroat trout, along with rainbow trout and speckled dace.
More CWCB coverage here.