#AnimasRiver fish survey shows encouraging signs — The Durango Herald

Animas River photo via Greg Hobbs.
Animas River photo via Greg Hobbs.

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Each year, the Parks and Wildlife department conducts an annual survey of fish populations in different stretches of the Animas River. Recently, crews focused on the portion of the river from the bridge behind Durango High School to High Bridge, near the La Plata County Humane Society.

For more than a decade, fish populations in the Animas have been on a steady decline, attributed to a number of factors, including less water in the river, urban runoff, higher water temperatures and elevated levels of heavy metals.

As a result, Parks and Wildlife stocks about 20,000 brown and 20,000 rainbow fingerlings a year, which usually have a survival rate of 3 to 5 percent, about the state average.

Although White said this year’s count didn’t indicate a turning point for fish in the Animas, he did say certain population trends are encouraging.

“The good news is we captured twice as many fish of quality size – 14 inches or better – compared to last year, so that’s really good,” he said.

White said another positive sign was crews caught a lot of 2-year-old brown trout, which means more juvenile fish stocked last year survived winter.

“We haven’t seen that recruitment for a while,” White said. “We also saw a higher number of larger rainbow trout. We’ve seen lots of small fish over the years that don’t seem to make it through the winter, but this year we’re seeing a lot more relative to the past several years.”

White said it would take a couple weeks to generate a population estimate, but he expects that number to reach or be very close to the Gold Metal Standard the river currently holds on the 4-mile stretch between the confluence with Lightner Creek and the bridge near Home Depot that contains 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least 12 14-inch or larger trout per acre.

Michigan Ditch tunnel update

Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.
Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

After overcoming equipment problems and putting in 24-hour work days, crews on Wednesday were within 35 feet of reaching the end of what will be a 764-foot-long tunnel.

“We’ve made tremendous progress …,” said Owen Randall, chief engineer with Fort Collins Utilities. “We should be out sometime (Thursday) or Friday at the very latest.”

Breaking through the mountain will be done slowly and carefully to avoid destabilizing the mountainside, he said.

Crews still have four to six weeks of work to wrap up the project, which will carry Michigan Ditch and its valuable water to city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir near Cameron Pass.

Dismantling and removing a custom-built tunnel boring machine from the mountain will take three to four days. Hydraulic and electronic equipment used to operate the machine will be stripped from the tunnel before a 60-inch diameter pipe is installed to carry the water.

#Drought news: D0 and D1 expanded around #Denver, 30 days of below normal precip for #Colorado lowers streamflow

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary
For the USDM 7-day period ending on September 27, a low pressure system produced above-normal precipitation in the western High Plains southwestward into the much of the Mountain West. The frontal boundary that was associated with the low produced copious amounts of rainfall for the Southern Plains stretching northward into Upper Midwest. Parts of the Mid-Atlantic also saw above-normal precipitation for the period. Drier-than-normal conditions existed for much of the country east of the Mississippi, especially for the Ohio Valley. Temperatures were as much as 10 degrees above normal for the parts of the Midwest while the Southwest and Northwest were cooler than normal. These warm and dry conditions in the nation’s eastern half contributed to expansion of drought in the Northeast and Southeast, while drought conditions improved in the High Plains and parts of the South. Please note that the Drought Monitor depicts conditions valid through Tuesday morning, 8 a.m., EDT (12 UTC); any of the recent locally heavy rain which fell after Tuesday morning (September 27) will be incorporated into next week’s drought assessment…

High Plains and Midwest
In the middle of the USDM period, an inch of rainfall fell in the drought stricken areas of the High Plains. As a result, short term dryness was removed in northwest North Dakota and multiple levels of drought were contracted in western South Dakota. It was reported that some small grasses have greened up and winter wheat planting is going full steam ahead. However, an extended dry period in the northeastern part of South Dakota kicked off the soybean harvest, and harvest activities should increase this coming week. Precipitation during the last 30-days in Montana and Wyoming was much above normal, which contributed to improved conditions in southern Montana, western Wyoming and eastern Idaho. Streamflow levels at 7 and 14 days were at or above average, while the 30-day percent of normal precipitation was more than 200 percent of normal…

Southwest
In Colorado, below normal precipitation during the past 30 days was reflected in the low streamflows, resulting in a small expansion of D0 in the central part of the state. Stations in and around Denver were showing near-extreme to extreme dryness at the 3-4 month time scale, resulting in the expansion of D0 and D1 in the area. Due to the unseasonably high precipitation totals in eastern Utah, SPIs have shifted from negative to positive through the six month timescales. It was reported that the benefits of this could be seen in both the soils and streams…

West
It is the dry season in much of the western U.S. , so no changes were made during this USDM shift…

Looking Ahead
During the next few days, a strong upper level low pressure system stalls out over the Ohio Valley providing much needed drought to the Mid-Atlantic region. As much as 3-6 inches of rain is forecasted, so flooding and flash flooding is possible in some areas. Some of the areas that were placed in D0 status this USDM week may see several inches of rain from this event. Please note that the Drought Monitor depicts conditions valid through Tuesday morning, 8 a.m., EDT (12 UTC); any of the recent locally heavy rain which fell after Tuesday morning (September 27) will be incorporated into next week’s drought assessment. Meanwhile, the rest of the CONUS will be relatively quiet. For average temperatures during the next few days, the largest positive anomalies are forecasted to occur in the West, Northwest, and High Plains. The largest negative anomalies should be concentrated in the Midwest and are forecasted to gradually slide southward. For the second half of the next USDM period, much cooler than normal temperatures return to the West Coast, while the warmer than normal temperatures are confined to much of the area east of the Rockies. The 6-10 day outlooks from CPC show an increase probability of warmer than normal temperatures for the eastern half of the country and the western half has the best chance of cooler than normal temperatures. There is an increased probability that above normal precipitation will fall in the Northern Rockies and High Plains while the probability is best for below normal precipitation to occur in the Southeast.

Gov. Matt Mead: Clean Power Plan Case Heard Before the U.S. Court of Appeals

Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com
Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com

Here’s the release from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s office:

Wyoming and 26 other states, industry groups and others presented arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday in opposition to the Clean Power Plan. The states argued the proposed rule goes far beyond the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority. Wyoming would be particularly impacted as the rule requires the state to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 44%.

“Federal regulatory agencies continue to push the boundaries of their legal authority. This results in unreasonable and onerous burdens on industry, businesses, individuals and states,” said Governor Matt Mead. “The Clean Power Plan is just such a situation. I am pleased the Court stopped the implementation of the rule pending a decision in this case.”

Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit denied a petition from states to halt implementation of the rule while litigation was pending. The petition was then submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court which ultimately granted the stay and stopped implementation of the rule. The petition argued the EPA did not have the proper authority, the Clean Power Plan would take authority away from states to regulate in-state power generation and transmission and the final rule was substantially different from its draft version, a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

#ColoradoRiver: The latest E-Newsletter is hot off the presses from the Hutchins Water Center #COriver

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Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

COLORADO RIVER RISK STUDY
The Colorado River District has released a memo summarizing the results of the first phase of the Joint West Slope Roundtables Risk Study. This study looked at the potential for Lake Powell to hit critically low levels under different hydrologic and demand scenarios. The memo outlines additional work to be done in Phase 2, including an exploration of how different management options could affect water users and sub-basins.

Avon: The 11th Annual Sustaining #Colorado Watersheds Conference, Oct. 11-13

Avon photo via Jack Affleck and the Mountain Town News.
Avon photo via Jack Affleck and the Mountain Town News.

Click here for all the inside skinny about the conference:

Our annual conference expands cooperation and collaboration throughout Colorado in natural resource conservation, protection, and enhancement by informing participants about new issues and innovative projects. In 2016, the conference will focus on what is needed to help ensure long-term sustainability for river health, public education, and organizational management.

To learn more and to register for the conference go to the
Colorado Watershed Assembly Website.