Learn from Jamie Weiss, Audubon Rockies Habitat Hero Coordinator, as she describes from a birds-eye view how you can create gardens that are designed to minimize water consumption and provide essential habitat for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife, large and small. Water is the lifeblood for both birds and people and the Habitat Hero program seeks to grow a network of engaged citizens taking on-the-ground action in their own yards.
Here’s an in-depth look at a fallowing experiment on the Carpenter Ranch in the Yampa Valley from Tom Ross writing in Steamboat Today. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:
Beginning in 2015, the Nature Conservancy committed four hay fields comprising 197 acres at the Carpenter Ranch to a multi-state pilot project conceived to determine how irrigated hay fields in the region would respond to being temporarily left fallow in order to leave more water flowing in the Yampa River. The stronger summer flows would support habitat and help to replenish the vast reservoirs of the Southwest that supply water to cities in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California.
The ranch is among five pilot sites in Colorado and five in Wyoming to make up the Colorado River System Conservation Program.
The Conservancy’s Yampa River Project Director Geoff Blakeslee told Steamboat Today in August 2015 that the water project essentially involves a water transfer plan that could someday allow ag water users to be compensated for temporarily taking water off their land to be used elsewhere.
“It’s very much an exploratory project,” Blakeslee said last year. “We’re doing what we call a split-season fallowing of four fields on Carpenter Ranch just to help with information gathering — what are the impacts to the ranch? What are the impacts to the river?”
It’s understood that the short-term consequences may be a smaller hay harvest that could support fewer cattle. But there are also benefits in the program that flow to the ranchers.
The $11 million program to conserve water is funded by water providers in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.
Republicans want to make sure rain barrels don’t put a crack in state water law and ensure that those with the [most senior] water rights get their [water in priority].
Rep. Jessie Danielson, a Democrat from Arvada, said the House bill she’s sponsoring is about clarifying the law, which might encourage more people to use rain barrels. The measure has passed the state House and is headed to the Senate.
“Even if we can conserve the smallest amount of water, it is less treated drinking water being poured out onto our lawns,” Danielson said…
Proving that use of a rain-barrel is causing harm to a water right in court could be a tough job, said Bill Paddock, one of Colorado’s top water lawyers.
To start, someone would have to figure out how many rain barrels are being used in a watershed that feeds downstream water rights. Since there’s no requirement to register them, even in the proposed legislation, analyzing any harm done to holders of water claims would mean checking downspouts door to door to get a count.
Then there would need to be a measurement of how much water each barrel stored. Then the analysis would have to show how much, if any, of that water would have made it back to the river, Paddock said.
“It’s really a question of whether the water that runs off your roof and into a rain barrel and onto a garden is injuring someone else’s water right,” he said.