From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Petra Barnes Walker):
Elise Boeke, acting state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado, recently announced the sustained maintenance and viability of the Snow Survey and Water Forecasting program (SSWF) despite continued federal budget cuts.
As a result of Colorado’s cooperative network, the SSWF Program is able to sustain all desired manually monitored snow courses within the state this winter.
“This is not only great news, but also a testament to the effectiveness and necessity of partnerships,” shared Boeke. “Without the natural resource partners who form the program’s cooperative network, many manually monitored snow courses may have been discontinued.”
During the last year, NRCS worked diligently with the existing cooperative network and called upon new partnerships to be formed. In 2014, of the 97 total active snow courses in Colorado, 38 were measured by cooperators. This year, eight cooperators have pledged to support an additional 14 manually monitored sites, bringing the total of snow courses measured by partners to 52 (that’s 55 percent) with no cost to the NRCS.
The mission of the NRCS snow survey program is to provide western states and Alaska with information on future water supplies. Trained personnel collect and NRCS staff analyzes snowpack depth and water equivalent data at nearly 956 manual snow courses in the United States, including the sites in Colorado. This allows NRCS to forecast annual water availability, spring runoff and summer stream flows. NRCS, formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service has managed the snow survey and water supply forecasting program since the early 1930s. NRCS also collects data using SNOpack TELemetry (SNOTEL) technology, which is an automated system that uses meteorburst communications to relay information about the depth and water content of the snowpack, precipitation and air temperatures to a central computer facility.