Rafting hits high-water mark in Clear Creek — The Clear Creek Courant

From The Clear Creek Courant: (Gabrielle Porter):

The number of people taking commercial rafting trips on Clear Creek this year was likely higher than 2014, which would make 2015 the third straight year of improvement for the industry, according to the Colorado Rafting Association.

The association saw more than 72,000 commercial customers in Clear Creek in 2014. The association hasn’t finished compiling figures for 2015 year, said executive director David Costlow, but “my guess is this year it will exceed that,” he said.

“That’s big business for Clear Creek County,” Costlow said.

According to the organization’s 2014 report:

• 60,644 people took commercial rafting trips on Clear Creek in 2011.

• 35,422 took Clear Creek trips in 2012.

• 61,172 took Clear Creek trips in 2013.

• 72,224 took Clear Creek trips in 2014.


Idaho Springs-based company Raft Masters had 6,036 visitors in 2015 — up about 7 percent from last year, said owner Dennis Wied. The company has been running trips in Clear Creek for about 10 years.

“Rafting on Clear Creek is becoming really popular,” Wied said. “Initially our Clear Creek operations made up 25 percent of our total operations between Clear Creek and the Arkansas River. Now it’s more like 40 percent.”

Wied said the county’s proximity to Denver has helped boost its image, especially for people wanting to make day trips…

Costlow said other areas have higher fees than Clear Creek. He pointed to the Arkansas River, which is called the most rafted river in the world.

“The fees there are such that a lot of (rafting companies), although they still run there, they’ve transferred a lot of their business to Clear Creek …,” Costlow said. “That’s why Clear Creek County gets the increase in revenue.”

Clear Creek rafting via MyColoradoLife.com
Clear Creek rafting via MyColoradoLife.com

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

Upper Colorado River Basin November 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal via the Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin November 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal via the Colorado Climate Center

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

El Niño was a November no-show in Aspen #elnino

From The Aspen Times:

It’s still in the early innings of winter, but many weather forecasters swung and missed when it came to November and the effects of El Nino, at least for Aspen and the surrounding mountains.

The Aspen Water Plant, an official National Weather Service station, reported it received 19.8 inches of snow in November. That is 2.31 inches, or 10.5 percent, below average for the month, the water plant’s records indicate.

October also produced less snow than average. Only 0.3 inches fell at the water plant. The average is 8.89 inches.

The situation wasn’t much better on the slopes. November was “spot on average” at Snowmass, while October was “a little low,” according to Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. For the season-to-date through November, Snowmass has received 61 inches of snow, he said. The average is 72 inches. That’s 15 percent below average.

Multiple weather services forecast a strong start to winter, but it hasn’t materialized — yet. Steve Root of AccuWeather forecast November would see snowfall 150 to 170 percent above average, based on analysis of past El Nino winters. He said back in October that data suggested December snowfall would be 190 to 200 percent above average for the Aspen area.

The National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office had forecasted “early snow, late snow, but not in the heart of winter” for the Aspen area.

http://OpenSnow.Com hedged a bit and said winter could go either way for the four ski areas of Aspen and Snowmass Village. It forecast a total season snowfall at anywhere from 86 to 122 percent of average.

http://AspenWeather.net, a micro-forecaster, took a bigger picture view as well instead a month-by-month look. It forecast snowfall 15 percent higher than average for the season.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac didn’t hop on the El Nino bandwagon. It forecast a weak to neutral El Nino, but it still missed the mark for November. It estimated it would be warmer and wetter than average for the mountains of Colorado for the month.

For the record, the snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen was 89 percent of average Tuesday.

The forecasters can get back on track in a hurry. A cold front is barreling toward Colorado from the northwest and is expected to bring powder Thursday night into Friday, with a possibility of snow over several of the following days.

Average influence of El Niño on US temperature and precipitation
Average influence of El Niño on US temperature and precipitation

#COWaterPlan addresses agricultural water use — Ag Journal

Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum
Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum

From the Colorado Cattleman’s Association via Ag Journal:

Governor Hickenlooper recently released the long-awaited Colorado Water Plan. Colorado Cattlemen’s Association took an active role in working to shape the portion of the plan regarding agricultural water use. The organization’s leadership and Water Committee are currently reviewing the plan and will provide further input and action items at a later date.

The creation of this statewide plan has been a two-year process with wide engagement from all of Colorado’s agriculture community. The plan addresses the importance of agriculture to the state, as well as rural communities. Colorado contains approximately 66.3 million acres of land, of which 10.6 million acres are cropland. Much of the water used to meet the ever-growing demand of municipalities was obtained by the buy-and-dry method which the newly-released plan acknowledges is not in the best interest of our state. Without changes, the Statewide Water Supply Initiative predicts that Colorado may lose 500,000 to 700,000 acres of currently-irrigated farmland to meet the municipal growth demands.

The agricultural portion of the plan contains three core elements and six action items:

Maintain Agricultural Viability: Maintain Colorado’s agricultural productivity, support of rural economies, and food security (through meaningful incentives and grassroots efforts). Facilitate Alternative Transfer Methods: Respect property rights and contributions of the agricultural industry by establishing alternative options that compete with, if not out-perform, traditional “buy-and-dry” transactions in the water market. Support Agricultural Conservation and Efficiency: Support Colorado’s agricultural industry to make it more efficient, resilient, and able to reduce water consumption without impacting agricultural productivity.

Critical Agricultural Actions: Establish an education and assistance program for farmers and ranchers to help realize more market-competitive transactions that promote implementation of ATMs, and enable Coloradans to enter the agriculture industry.

Encourage ditch-wide and regional planning to explore system-wide conservation and efficiency opportunities and tradeoffs, the potential for water sharing, and long-term infrastructure maintenance needs.

Provide grants, loans, and technical support to update and improve Colorado’s aging agricultural infrastructure, especially where improvements provide multiple benefits.

Develop model voluntary flow agreement language, facilitation, and technical support to encourage the use of these agreements when paired with irrigation efficiency practices.

Explore the development of administrative means to track and administer agricultural-conserved water for the purposes of marketing these waters. Explore expanded grant funding that supports implementation of ATM projects, related infrastructure, or entities that would help facilitate alternative transfer methods.

To see the Colorado Water Plan in its entirety visit: http://coloradowaterplan.com.