The BLM’s suitability analysis for Wild and Scenic designation for Deep Creek is nearing the end

Deep Creek via the Bureau of Land Management
Deep Creek via the Bureau of Land Management

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud) via The Aspen Times:

A process that began nearly 19 years ago to have Deep Creek in far eastern Garfield County designated as a Wild and Scenic waterway is nearing the end of a formal suitability analysis as part of the BLM’s new Resource Management Plan.

“We are conducting our suitability analysis for Wild and Scenic Rivers through our RMP,” said David Boyd, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest Colorado District. “We anticipate the proposed plan/alternative will be released late this fall or early next year,” he said.

In addition, the White River National Forest is working with the BLM to analyze eligible segments of Deep Creek as it passes through forest lands.

“The draft plan has identified both the BLM and Forest Service segments of Deep Creek as suitable for Wild and Scenic in two alternatives,” Boyd said, including a conservation alternative and a less-restrictive “preferred alternative.”[…]

One other area waterway, the Crystal River south of Carbondale, is in the preliminary stages of being proposed by conservation groups for Wild and Scenic designation as well.

More Wild and Scenic coverage here.

The Middle Colorado Watershed Council E-Newsletter for October 2013 is hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

The Colorado River in Eagle County
The Colorado River in Eagle County

Click here to read the newsletter.

Aspinall Unit update: Gunnison Tunnel diversions off until spring

Aspinall Unit
Aspinall Unit via The Denver Post

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

With the end of the irrigation season upon us, diversions to the Gunnison Tunnel have been shut down for the winter as of yesterday, October 30. Releases from Crystal Dam will be reduced to 300 cfs today, October 31, at 11 AM. This will leave 300 cfs in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon for the winter months.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

‘Piece by piece, we are getting things together, making progress’ — Jerre Stead #COflood

From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

Colorado’s flood-recovery chief says there are yawning gaps in the funding available and the funding needed to help home and business owners trying to rebound from the September deluges. As many as 26,000 flood victims have applied for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which usually gives out about $6,000 in flood aid.

“But many people are getting much less,” said Jerre Stead, appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in September as the state’s chief recovery officer.

Stead said his most important job is to listen carefully to the victims of the flooding to make sure they get the resources, and money, to get back to their lives.

“They’ve got to know people care about them, that they are being heard,” said the 70-year-old.

Through the work of local, state and federal recovery teams, as well as the website http://ColoradoUnited.com, information about help is filtering out to people in 24 counties nearly washed away by floodwaters, Stead said.

That help includes raising nearly $12 million for housing for flood victims through groups such as United Way and Red Cross.

About $46 million has been approved for Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans for about 1,000 homeowners and 121 business, primarily in Boulder, Weld and Larimer counties, he said.

Still, one the biggest problems facing recovery efforts is that officials are still assessing the damage, Stead said. For instance, the toll on the state’s farms and ranches is just now being tallied.

But it’s known that 1,200 farms were impacted by the floods, including 32,000 acres of cropland.

“Piece by piece, we are getting things together, making progress,” Stead said. “But these numbers change daily as we get further and further into the recovery.”

Stead, an Iowa native, has been the executive chairman at Englewood-based IHS since December 2000, a job he took shortly after retiring as the top executive at Ingram Micro. He also has held top jobs at AT&T, Honeywell, Square D and Legent. Stead took over as CEO of IHS in September 2006. The company is a Douglas County provider of information and analysis to businesses and governments across the globe.

In September, Hickenlooper praised Stead as one of the more talented executives in the state, saying “Jerre was really sent from heaven to do this task.”

Stead and his staff are not being paid for their work, which has included touring flood-ravaged areas of the state.

He found the cooperation among local, state and federal agencies heartening, which is helping speed the rebuilding. At least 78 percent of the state’s roadways are now open, and he’s confident the rest will be ready for use by Dec. 1.

“It’s amazing the work being done out there,” Stead said.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

Upper Colorado River Basin Precipitation from October 21-27, 2013 via the Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin Precipitation from October 21-27, 2013 via the Colorado Climate Center

Click here the read the current assessment. Click here to go to the website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy is studying the effects of drought on invertebrate populations #COdrought

Macro Invertebrates via Little Pend Oreille Wildlife Refuge Water Quality Research
Macro Invertebrates via Little Pend Oreille Wildlife Refuge Water Quality Research

From Aspen Public Radio (Marci Krivonen):

“We just started hearing a lot about it from local fishing guides that they just weren’t seeing the hatches on the river, from local anglers, and even from residents on the Fryingpan,” he says. The problem was the bugs weren’t hatching. The hatches are key to good fishing because the bugs are dinner for trout.

A winter-time phenomenon called anchor ice could be to blame. It’s ice that builds up on the riverbed instead of on the river’s surface and it happens in cold temperatures and shallow waters.

“The river ran at 39 cubic feet per second for almost four months last winter and you probably remember we had a pretty cold winter as well, so there was a lot of concern,” Lofaro says.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy is so concerned it decided to replicate a study done following the 2002 drought. This multi-year analysis will examine bugs in the river, take water temperatures throughout the winter and look at the economic impact of a slower fishing season.

Today a team is collecting bug samples from the Fryingpan River as part of the study. Bill Miller is a biologist from Fort Collins. He is carefully moving bugs and mud into a small container. The contents will be taken to a lab and examined under a microscope.

“In a sample like this, there’ll be hundreds of bugs, so we can’t really tell what the diversity is until we get it into the lab and then go through and sort the sample, and get all the identifications and put them in their classifications,” he says.

The more diversity and the higher amount of bugs mean the stream is healthy. The team is taking samples from three sites along the river and will compare the findings to previous years.

A few miles downriver, a separate team is decked in waders and spread across the width of the river. They’re slowly trudging upstream and catching fish in nets.

This is called “fish shocking” but the team isn’t really shocking the fish. They’re dipping long, metal poles into the river that send out an electrical current. The current attracts fish. For the team of ten, it’s hard work.

More Roaring Fork River Watershed coverage here and here.

US Bureau of Reclamation: Final Grand Lake Water clarity technical review now available #ColoradoRiver

Grand Lake via Cornell University
Grand Lake via Cornell University

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Kara Lamb/Mike Collins):

The Bureau of Reclamation has finalized its Grand Lake Water Clarity Technical Review and Work Plan that addresses concerns of water clarity at Colorado’s Grand Lake. The report is available at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/ecao.

“We appreciate the participation of our partners and stakeholders in this very important process,” said Eastern Colorado Area Manager, Mike Collins. “It has helped us streamline the process and take an important step forward.”

The purpose of the Technical Review is to provide a roadmap outlining the steps required to transition numerous proposed alternatives to improve the clarity of Grand Lake into a 30% engineering design. The Technical Review considers non-construction operational changes, as well as potential constructed alternatives.

To download the report in PDF, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/gp/ecao.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.