R.I.P. Rolly Fischer #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Rolly Fischer via TheDenverChannel.com.
Rolly Fischer via TheDenverChannel.com.

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

Roland “Rolly” Fischer, the longtime head of the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District who guided the organization through a period of intense and often contentious change, has died.

Fischer, a petroleum engineer who came to western Colorado in the 1950s ahead of the eventual oil shale boom and bust, was secretary-engineer and general manager for what was then known as the Colorado River Water Conservation District from 1968 until 1996.

A sometimes controversial figure, Fischer remained a fixture in Glenwood Springs along with his wife, Tillie, after his retirement. He died Friday morning at the age of 88, according to family and friends.

“The entire River District is saddened by the news, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” River District spokesman Chris Treese said.

“Rolly certainly deserves the credit for what the River District is today,” said Treese, who went to work for Fischer in 1991. “He was a visionary, and as manager he hired a lot of the people who make the River District the success it is today.

“First and foremost, he looked out for western Colorado and only did what he thought was best for its water interests,” Treese said. “He was willing to be the lightning rod in doing that.”

Outside of work, wife Tillie said he was the consummate family man. She accompanied him to western Colorado in 1955 when he went to work for Union Oil Co. of California to secure a water source for oil shale development.

“He was happiest when our children, George and Katie, or myself had some success,” she said. “He never wanted the success for himself, but was so happy when we did anything that made him proud.

“In the water industry, the verbal word of Rolly Fischer and a handshake were more binding than any one-inch-thick legal document,” she added.

Writer George Sibley, in a summary written for the Post Independent of his 2012 book Water Wranglers, described Fischer as a “visible, creative and often controversial leader for the West Slope’s traditional water users through his 28-year tenure.

“One of the district’s best achievements in that time was a truce with Denver, resulting in construction of the Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling using Denver money for joint East and West Slope storage.

“But Fischer’s greatest achievement may also be organizational, turning the River District from a nearly invisible two-person operation into an effective organization employing around 20 highly skilled people by the time he left,” Sibley wrote.

David Merritt, whom Fischer hired to oversee the Wolford Mountain project, said Fischer was responsible for the River District’s transition in the 1980s away from larger-scale water projects to operating existing projects and building more local projects.

“He saw the organization through that difficult time, and built up the staffing to support that,” Merritt said. “He could be irascible, and we could have our disagreements on things, but if I could convince him on something he would support me.

“As a boss, mentor and friend, I considered him par none,” Merritt said.

More recently, Fischer became embroiled in a 2010 finger-pointing controversy when former Congressman and then-gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, now a Mesa County commissioner, was accused of plagiarizing parts of water articles he was commissioned to write, and for which he had hired Fischer to gather research.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Roland “Rollie” Fischer, for 28 years the head of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, died Thursday night.

“Everyone at the River District is saddened by today’s news,” spokesman Chris Treese said. “Rollie was the River District for many years. The River District today and western Colorado’s water is Rollie’s legacy.”

@COParksWildlife: Voluntary fishing closure in place at ‘toilet-bowl’, near Ruedi Reservoir, effective immediately

“Toilet Bowl near Ruedi Dam. Photo credit Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

From Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Mike Porrus):

Effective immediately, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is instituting a voluntary fishing closure at a popular area on the Frying Pan River located downstream from the Ruedi Reservoir Dam. Water that normally flows from the dam and into the pool, known locally as the ‘toilet-bowl’, has been re-routed due to the need for dam maintenance. The conditions have left the fish in the pool isolated, vulnerable, and stressed.

Maintenance of the dam – owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation – could continue through Nov. 10; however, dam operators say it could take longer if additional work is necessary.

“We’ve received several reports from concerned anglers that fish in the pool are stressed due to the current lack of water flow coming into the pool,” said CPW Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin. “Due to these conditions, it’s just not very sporting to catch these fish right now. Releasing stressed fish that have been handled could result in them not surviving.”

Anglers can expect to see signage advising of the closure and are urged to find alternative fishing locations until conditions improve.

Although the closure is voluntary, CPW officials say a more stringent emergency closure enforceable by law is an option if angler compliance is minimal.

For more information about the voluntary fishing closure, contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Glenwood Springs office at 970-947-2920.

For more information about work on the dam and dam operations, contact Tim Miller of the Bureau of Reclamation at 970-962-4394.

Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy
Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy

John Fielder focuses efforts to save water

Here’s an interview with John Fielder from John Wenzel and The Denver Post. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

John Fielder has long been known as Colorado’s premier wildlife photographer, his brand name as sturdy and well-defined as the stunning landscapes the 66-year-old has documented for more than four decades.

But as is often the case with people who devote their lives to their natural environment, Fielder is as much an activist as an artist and salesman, penning a 2015 Denver Post op-ed against fracking and, lately, threatening to sue the Denver Water Board for one of its Colorado River Water projects.

We talked to Fielder, the author of more than 40 books, in advance of his latest slideshow-talks (and book-sale events) across Colorado, including in Centennial and Denver (Nov. 5), Summit County (Nov. 9), Green Valley Ranch (Nov. 10), Golden (Nov. 11) and Colorado Springs (Nov. 12). Most events are free. View the full schedule, including times and addresses, at http://johnfielder.com.

Click here to order one of his books to support his work and to support water.