A beautiful and welcome view from space — Brendan Heberton @BrendansWeather

Southwest Colorado Livestock Association annual meeting recap

La Plata Mountains from the Great Sage Plain
La Plata Mountains from the Great Sage Plain

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) gave an informed report of legislation he supports that will ease regulations for ranching and protect water rights in the state…

He said an effort to stop federal land agencies from acquiring water rights as a condition for renewing permits for ski areas and ranching allotments was defeated. “But they are trying to adjust the rule, so it is still a threat,” Tipton said.

He is sponsoring the Protecting our Water Rights Act, a bill that protects the priority water rights system in Colorado, and “keeps control of our water out of the hands of bureaucrats.”

More San Juan River Basin coverage here.

Rio Grande River: US siding with Texas?

Rio Grande and Pecos River basins
Rio Grande and Pecos River basins

From the Albuquerque Journal (John Fleck):

Groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico could threaten the delivery of Rio Grande water to Texas, the federal government argued in a motion filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The motion dismisses arguments made by New Mexico in ongoing litigation with Texas over the river, with the U.S. government effectively taking Texas’s side in the case.

Be sure to click through to read the whole document with Mr. Fleck’s highlights.

More Rio Grande River Basin coverage here.

Snow Course for Water Professionals class recap

SNOTEL Site via the Natural Resources Conservation Service
SNOTEL Site via the Natural Resources Conservation Service

From the Colorado Water Congress:

For many water professionals, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of our jobs. Let us not forget the origin of Colorado’s most crucial natural resource. 80% of Colorado surface water supplies come from snowpack- but what does that mean exactly? How is snowpack measured and what effect does that have on water resource management?

From February 12-14, myself [Fiona Smith] and five others, attended the “Snow Course for Water Professionals” hosted by the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies (CSAS). The class was held at the CSAS office on the main street of Silverton, CO. Packed with six attendees, Chris Landry (Executive Director) and Kim Buck (Data and Admin), we settled into our chairs and began the first of three morning lectures. Landry provided a basic overview of global climate patterns and their effect on Colorado’s climate predictions. With the Pineapple Express in mind and coffee in our bellies, we absorbed equations related to snowmelt energy budget, examined snowmelt metamorphism, and learned about the hideous effect of dust on our snowpack; we discussed albedo, snow water equivalent, and how to choose a deep powder line in the backcountry.

Be sure to click through and read the whole blog post.

The South Platte River Corridor Vision report is hot off the presses from the South Platte Working Group

southplattecanoe

Here’s the release from Arapahoe County:

After completing a nine‐month visioning process, the South Platte Working Group – a collaboration of city, county, state and special district elected leaders and staff ‐ has released a report outlining a future vision plan for recreation, accessibility and economic development opportunities for the South Platte river corridor in Arapahoe County.

The South Platte River Corridor Vision report, which is available for review and comment at http://www.arapahoegov.com/DocumentCenter/View/1792, is the result of several months of research, discussions and outreach to stakeholders and communities, including a half‐day charrette in September 2013.

“This report provides a more comprehensive picture of what we envision for the South Platte River corridor in the future,” said Commissioner Nancy A. Doty, who represents District 1, which includes the communities along the South Platte. “By working together, the members who make up the South Platte Working Group will be able to prioritize projects, pool resources and continue to accomplish our goals for this important amenity in a deliberate and thoughtful way.”

Convened by Arapahoe County in 2006 with an initial $3 million pledge, and another $5 million in 2012 – both funded from the Open Space sales and use tax, the South Platte Working Group has racked up several accomplishments in its short existence.

The South Platte Working Group, which consists of 21 local jurisdictions and agencies, has contributed more than $25 million (including a $5.25 million Legacy grant from Great Outdoors Colorado) for projects that have improved the environmental viability, restoration and beautification, as well as improved connections to the river greenway and park system from C‐470 on the south to Yale Avenue on the north.

“This vision document is our way of strategically identifying how we can continue to restore this beautiful recreational, environmental and economic development amenity,” said Littleton City Council member Debbie Brinkman. “The South Platte Working Group has accomplished a great deal to improve the river corridor and this report charts a new path for future opportunities.”

By working collaboratively, the South Platte Working Group has acquired 50 acres of open space; built six new bike/pedestrian bridges and added six trailheads and 3.2 miles of new trail – all designed to protect, improve and restore this popular recreational amenity, which continues to be impacted by urban development and population growth.
The South Platte River Corridor Vision report outlines the group’s future efforts to improve and protect the river corridor. Some of the outcomes and recommendations from the report include:

  • Identifying approaches to further integrate the communities of Englewood, Sheridan, Littleton and Columbine Valley to the river in ways that both increase recreational opportunities and facilitate economic development.
  • Completing a series of “quick wins” or projects that can be pursued immediately to improve the recreational experience along the South Platte. The plan identifies 11 projects that are supported and can be completed with appropriate funding. Some of the projects identified include: improving the Oxford to Union Avenue corridor; enhancing the Little Dry Creek Corridor and improving the Centennial Park Oxbow Nature area, to name a few.
  • Embracing the unique qualities of the South Platte by building on and embracing the industrial character of some of its areas for education, public art and cultural events.
  • “It really is exciting to see how the Vision Plan essentially captures some of the best qualities of the South Platte River in the northern part of Arapahoe County,” said Englewood Mayor Randy Penn. “This plan charts the future for the varied land uses that will make its mark on Englewood and other communities for years to come.”

    Comments on the draft report are welcomed from anyone interested in the recreation, habitat and economic development along the South Platte. For more information about the South Platte Working Group, visit http://www.arapahoegov.com/index.asp?NID=469. A copy of the report is available at: http://www.arapahoegov.com/DocumentCenter/View/1792. Photos of the South Platte are available at: http://www.arapahoegov.com/gallery.aspx?AID=13

    From The Denver Post (Clayton Woullard):

    The South Platte Working Group has put out its first South Platte River Corridor Vision report that identifies more than 20 projects to be completed over the next few decades in the river corridor.

    The working group is a collection of about 21 different entities, including Littleton, Englewood, Arapahoe County, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and several others. They first came together in 2006 to discuss and propose projects to enhance recreational opportunities, enhance the habitat along the river and potentially provide for economic development opportunities.

    “How do we create this cool relationship between the community and the businesses and the neighbors and nature without destroying this amenity,” said Debbie Brinkman, who represents District 4 as council member in Littleton and has been a part of the group since the beginning when she was Littleton’s mayor.

    The group has spent $25 million since 2006 on various projects that have helped with the restoration, beautification and environmental viability of the South Platte, plus improved connections with the greenway and park system throughout the corridor.

    Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, whose District 1 encompasses the river corridor, said the report is important because it’s the culmination of varied groups working together. She said one of the most important and immediate projects in the report is the Dry Creek Channel and Trail Potential Enhancements, which would include reconstructing the corridor and basically make conditions better life for vegetation and the health of the creek as a tributary to the South Platte River.

    “What we hope to accomplish with that is improvement of the connection with the South Platte River and the city of Englewood Center,” Doty said, adding that would help recreational and economic development opportunities.

    Doty said another important, immediate project is the Oxford-Union Channel and Habitat Improvement Project, which would include the reconfiguration of the channel, including the installation of riffles and pools for recreation.

    Another is the Centennial Park/Oxbow Pond Nature Study Opportunity, in which some concrete slabs among the pond banks may have led to water stagnation. It has the potential to become an educational resource as part of Englewood’s Centennial Park.

    For more information, or to read the report, click here.

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

    After a long absence, humpback chub have been reintroduced to Havasu Creek in the Grand Canyon #ColoradoRiver

    Bipartisan, Udall-Led Effort Successfully Reauthorizes Critical, Boulder-Based Drought Program That Protects Farmers, Ranchers, Local Communities

    Here’s the release from Senator Udall’s office:

    U.S. Senator Mark Udall welcomed the passage today of bipartisan legislation he spearheaded to reauthorize the Boulder-based National Integrated Drought Information System, which provides vital drought information to farmers, ranchers and other industries affected by weather conditions. The bipartisan bill, supported by Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), now heads to the president for his signature.

    “The recent severe drought has staggered Colorado’s farmers and ranchers. It’s the reason I have fought in Congress to improve our ability to forecast and monitor droughts and strengthen programs that help farmers coping with drought,” Mark Udall said. “This bipartisan legislation, which I championed, will ensure the Boulder-based National Integrated Drought Information System has the resources it needs to protect our way of life in the West and keep Colorado and the nation’s job-creating agricultural economy thriving.”

    “For years now, Arkansas has been dealing with the devastating effects of drought and severe weather conditions,” Pryor said. “Our bipartisan bill gives our farmers, ranchers, and local communities the tools and information they need manage resources, protect crops and livestock, and prevent economic losses. The passage of this bill is yet another win for Arkansas’s agricultural industry.”

    “Droughts create tremendous uncertainty and financial losses for farmers and ranchers who depend on tools like NIDIS,” Thune said. “I am pleased that this legislation has cleared both chambers and I urge President Obama to sign the bill. As a member of the Agriculture Committee and the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over this program, I know the improvements we made to this program will provide better information to agriculture producers as well as businesses and local governments that experience the effects of drought conditions.”

    “This bill is vital for New Mexico farmers, ranchers and communities dealing with the sixth consecutive drier-than-average year,” Tom Udall said. “Information from the NIDIS helps farmers and ranchers prevent livestock losses and determine how to protect their crops, and that’s critical to sustain our agricultural economy. I applaud the bipartisan support for this bill, and I’m going to continue to fight for resources and information that will help New Mexicans adapt and respond to water scarcity.”

    Since the NIDIS Act was signed into law in 2006, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought prevention, research and education. The bill extends the program for five years and supports an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system. The National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013 is the companion bill to the Drought Information Act, which Udall and the senators introduced in February 2013.

    Mark Udall has been a strong advocate for communities and industries that have been affected by the recent record-setting drought. He urged Congress this week to extend crucial water conservation and monitoring for communities that count on reliable access to water. He recently helped broker a deal last year to maintain funding for the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program, which monitors snowpack in Colorado’s mountains and helps water managers forecast supply issues before they occur. Udall also has been the leading proponent of protecting the Colorado River and finding innovative ways to better manage our water to meet rising demand throughout the West.