R.I.P. Ray Kogosvek

Ray Kogosvek is to the left of Gale Norton in this photo from the 2017 Aspinall Award Luncheon. He was a past recipient. L to R: David Robbins; Harold Miskel, Eric wilkinson; Ray Kogovsek; Gale Norton; Lewis Entz; Don Ament, Travis Smith; Hank Brown. Photo credit Greg Hobbs.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

News of former U.S. Rep. Ray Kogovsek’s death Sunday night sent a shock wave of grief through the generations of Colorado lawmakers who worked with the well-known Pueblo Democrat for decades.

“Oh no. That’s such a loss,” former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., said with obvious disbelief Monday morning. Hart was in the Senate from 1975 until 1987, while Kogovsek was representing the 3rd Congressional District and Pueblo.

“I told Ray not long ago that he would never know how important he had been to Southern Colorado, to the people in the 3rd Congressional District, to all the young people he had mentored over the years,” Hart said. “He had such a great sense of humor. He was always willing to cross the aisle to work with anyone for the good of our state.”

From The Denver Business Journal:

Kogovsek began his political career in Pueblo working in the Pueblo County Clerk’s office, running for the Colorado House in 1968 at the age of 27 and the Colorado Senate two years later in 1970. He was a leader at the Statehouse until 1978 when he was elected to Congress, succeeding long time southern Colorado Rep. Frank Evans.

He was perhaps Pueblo and southern Colorado’s most enthusiastic supporter, acting on behalf of the gritty steel town that was his beloved home in economic development issues and public policy matters for decades.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Steve Henson wrote in Kogovsek’s obit Monday that Kogovsek was “Everyman, a living testament to the American Dream.”

“His greatest legacy, however, is that he was an important man who didn’t act the part. He frequently joined friends for casual lunches at the back-room round table at Ianne’s on Northern, or dinner at LaTronica’s. He was a Kennedy Democrat who loved talking politics.

“And he loved people from all walks of life, equally comfortable visiting the White House or sharing a Budweiser with constituents at a bar in Springfield, Colo.”

Here’s the obit from Steve Henson and The Pueblo Chieftain:

Raymond Kogovsek, Pueblo’s only congressman during the past 40 years and a tireless supporter of Pueblo and Southern Colorado, died Sunday. He was 75.

Kogovsek was Everyman, a living testament to the American Dream.

Roselawn Funeral Home, with the assistance of Kogovsek’s widow Linda, is currently working on obituary information and funeral arrangements.”

The Pueblo native was one of six children, the son of a steel worker who grew up in a tiny house on Pine Street in the heart of Bessemer.

He graduated from Pueblo Catholic High School in 1959; attended Pueblo Junior College; and graduated from Adams State College in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

He joined the staff of the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder in 1964, and discovered a love for politics in the constant political turmoil that was and is the Pueblo County Courthouse.

He served as chief deputy county clerk from 1968-73 and worked as a paralegal aide in the prestigious law firm of Peterson and Fonda. One of the lawyers in that law firm was local Democratic icon Tom Farley. The late Farley served in the state Legislature and even ran for governor, losing a primary election to eventual Gov. Richard Lamm.

The two became fast friends and Farley’s activism in Democratic politics rubbed off on the young legal aide.

Kogovsek was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1968 at the age of 27. He was elected to the Colorado Senate in 1970 and was elected Senate Majority Leader in 1973. He remained in that position until 1978, at which time he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

He was re-elected twice, serving three terms in all. He returned to the sprawling 3rd Congressional District every weekend, and spent much of the weekends traveling throughout the district to listen to constituents. Although he reveled in the personal contacts he made, the travel finally wore him out. That, along with his growing distaste for Washington, D.C., and the political arena, led to his decision not to seek re-election in 1984.

He retired from politics in 1985 and became a lobbyist, forming Kogovsek & Associates, specializing in natural resources and government. His clients included the city of Pueblo.

He was fiercely proud of his Slovenian heritage. His grandmother was a Yugoslavian immigrant who ran a tavern in a Pueblo South Side Slovenian neighborhood in the days when Pueblo’s neighborhoods were identified by this or that heritage. He was named Colorado’s honorary consul to Yugoslavia, and also served on the board of Ljubljanska Banks of New York City.

#Snowpack/#Runoff news: Ullr delivered the past week

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS. Remember to be cautious about your evaluation. Percent of average peak may not reflect conditions accurately since melt-out started up a few weeks ago. The percent of average may be high but how is the current SWE as compared to this year’s peak and the average peak volume and date? How much SWE is left to come off?

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jane Kyle):

Snowfall in Fort Collins is 26.5 inches below the seasonal average following this weekend’s storm.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, Fort Collins received 2.2 inches of snow in April, bringing seasonal snowfall to 28.5 inches. The average seasonal snowfall by this time of year is 55 inches.

From email from the US Bureaus of Reclamation:

Water managers are preparing for the best runoff the Rio Grande has seen in nearly a decade, as the snowpack in the mountains that feeds the river and its tributaries melts.

Flows through Albuquerque topped 3,500 cubic feet per second on April 19, 2017, as temperatures rose and the snowmelt continued. The flows are expected to increase further and continue for several months with sustained deliveries from Colorado on the main-stem and above-average runoff on the Rio Chama. This is a stark contrast from years when Reclamation and cooperating agencies struggled to keep the river connected to Elephant Butte through the spring months.

“We are really pleased to finally see above-average snowpack and the potential to start the long process of rebuilding our water supplies,” said Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “We realize that dwindling supplies are the result of years of extended drought and it will take many years to completely recover. But this is a good step in the right direction.”

For the first time in the last few years, it appears San Juan-Chama Project contractors could receive a full allocation of water stored in Heron Reservoir this summer. And irrigation districts are also expecting to replenish some of the water stored in reservoirs. The April forecast for inflow to El Vado Reservoir in northern New Mexico is 160 percent of average. That translates to a predicted inflow of approximately 360,000 acre-feet of water. It’s more than a 100 percent increase over last year’s inflow.

The Rio Grande at Otowi gage, an important measuring point for the Rio Grande Compact, is forecast to pass approximately 920,000 acre-feet of water this year, also a large increase from recent years.

Elephant Butte is expected to have good inflow into June and could reach about 500,000 acre-feet in storage at the high point this summer. This is welcome news for Rio Grande Project beneficiaries including Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, and Mexico, as well as recreationists and boating enthusiasts.

“We have not seen these kinds of natural flows on the Rio Chama and Rio Grande in New Mexico in many years,” Faler said. “Through many years of drought, some folks have become complacent and we’ve seen more encroachment on the river. It’s important to remember that rivers are active channels that can migrate and change in times of higher flows. We all need to be vigilant and aware as we live, work, and recreate near and in New Mexico’s rivers and reservoirs.”

Reclamation is coordinating closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to manage the higher flows through the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Reclamation has authority for river maintenance to protect Middle Rio Grande Project facilities and ensure the delivery of water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has authority for flood control.

To view the 2017 Rio Grande Annual Operating Plan, visit https://www.usbr.gov/uc/albuq/water/aop/2017AOP.pdf.

Here’s the Westwide basin-filled map for May 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map May 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

‘Thinking big’ about the future of the High Line Canal – News on TAP

New plan to guide transformation of century-old engineering marvel into a modern-day recreational asset.

Source: ‘Thinking big’ about the future of the High Line Canal – News on TAP

River management plan for upper Roaring Fork surfaces for public input — @AspenJournalism

A stream gage on the upper Roaring Fork River.

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

ASPEN – At the first public meeting this week about the emerging river management plan for the upper Roaring Fork River, Aspen officials wanted to ask people if, and where, they perceive the river to be struggling from factors such as diversion, development, pollution and recreation.

And while turnout was low on a cold and snowy Thursday, with only three members of the general public showing up, those who did go saw well-rendered maps of the Roaring Fork and its tributaries above the river’s confluence with Brush Creek, and were asked to place colored stickers on locations where they have noticed problems on the river.

The entire watershed above Brush Creek, which flows out of Snowmass Village and into the Roaring Fork River above Woody Creek, is being looked at in the study. That includes the main stem of the Roaring Fork River and its primary tributaries, Hunter, Maroon, Castle, Difficult, Lincoln and Lost Man creeks.

A map of the upper Roaring Fork River watershed, from the Brush Creek confluence to the Continental Divide.

Flow modification

The river management plan will look at threats to the river’s health, including “flow modification” from diversions of water into ditches and tunnels, such as in the headwaters near Independence Pass, on upper Hunter Creek, or on the Roaring Fork east of town.

Diversions from the Roaring Fork and its tributaries can frequently lead the section of river that flows through central Aspen to fall below 32 cubic feet per second, the minimum amount of water deemed by the state to be necessary to protect the environment to a reasonable degree.

“We’re doing this river management plan because of known issues on the Roaring Fork,” said April Long, an engineer and stormwater manager for the city, who is managing the project.

The reach of the Roaring Fork River through Aspen that often runs lower than the state-prescribed level of 32 cfs.
Low flows in the Roaring Fork River just above Rio Grande Park, in July 2012. City of Aspen officials say the Roaring Fork runs below environmentally-sound levels on this stretch about eight weeks of the year now.

Consultant team

The cost of the $200,000 plan is being split by the city and Pitkin County, which has concerns about the North Star area east of Aspen.

The contract was approved in June and a team of technical consultants has since been reviewing prior studies and developing new information about the upper Roaring Fork.

Seth Mason, the principal engineer at Lotic Hydrological of Carbondale, is the project manager, Greg Espegren is in charge of “river health evaluations” and Lee Rozaklis is overseeing “water rights and resource planning.”

Also on the team is Bill Miller, a river biologist who has worked extensively in the past for the city, whose firm is called Miller Ecological Consultants.

Consultants with CDR Associates and the Consensus Building Institute are managing stakeholder engagement.

Lincoln Creek between Grizzly Reservoir and the Roaring Fork River will be one reach studied by the river management plan.
Grizzly Reservoir on Lincoln Creek, well above its confluence with the Roaring Fork River. The reservoir briefly stores water before it is diverted under the Continental Divide.

Various stretches

The plan will focus on at least eight stretches of the river network, such as the Roaring Fork River between Lost Man Creek and Difficult Creek, and the stretch of Lincoln Creek between Grizzly Reservoir and the creek’s confluence with the Roaring Fork, just above the Grottos.

And that approach includes Castle and Maroon creeks, and the locations of the potential Castle Creek Reservoir and Maroon Creek Reservoir.

Long said the Roaring Fork River plan is on a separate track than the public process that city officials are preparing to soon roll out about storage alternatives for the city. But she said nothing is off the table for discussion.

“When we talk about water resources, we are at times talking about all of our water and all of our resources,” Long said. “We would be remiss in pulling anything off the table when we’re looking for solutions.”

The Maroon Creek valley, from the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks to the Roaring Fork RIver.
The site of the potential Maroon Creek Reservoir, just below the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks.

Recommendations coming

Ultimately the goal of the plan is to make recommendations that inform “future river-related projects,” “water development planning and approval processes,” and “management of water infrastructure,” according to material passed out at the meeting.

The Roaring Fork River management plan joins a growing number of stream management plans and integrated water management plans being developed in Colorado.

The 2015 Colorado Water Plan called for 80 percent of priority streams in the state to be covered by loosely defined “stream management plans,” which so far tend to be smaller versions of more common “watershed plans.”

Whatever they are called, such river plans have a technical component to them, often overseen by an informal technical advisory group, and a social component, often represented by a group of local stakeholders.

The technical advisory group for the Roaring Fork plan has been selected, according to Long, and is poised to meet for the first time May 23. The meeting is not open to the public.

Over a dozen entities have been invited to send a representative to the technical group, Long said, including officials from the city’s stormwater, parks and utilities departments and Pitkin County officials from its river and open space boards.

Also invited are representatives from the Roaring Fork Conservancy, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Salvation Ditch Co., Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., Ruedi Water and Power Authority, Colorado River District, Colorado Water Trust, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service.

Long said representatives from Salvation Ditch Co. and Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. have agreed to serve on the technical advisory group.

She also said the city and county has decided against having a separate and distinct stakeholders group, as described in the approved proposal.

“There is a little bit of change in the scope, exactly, from that,” Long said. “Basically what we’re doing is having a back and forth between a technical advisory group and the public as stakeholders in the project.”

Long added, “We’re hoping that we have a broad technical advisory group so we can vet and deliver very viable and implementable options.”

Long plans to hold a second public meeting and has posted a survey, and the maps, on a city website. Aspen and Pitkin County expect to share draft actions and projects with the community this summer and present findings and recommendations to elected officials this winter.

A map of Hunter Creek showing the Fry-Ark project diversions on Midway, No Name and Hunter creeks.
A map of the Fry-Ark system. Aspen, and Hunter Creek, are shown in the lower left. Fryingpan-Arkansas Project western and upper eastern slope facilities.
A portion of the flow in Hunter Creek is diverted to the Front Range and to locations downvalley from Aspen.

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating on coverage of water and rivers with The Aspen Times, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the Vail Daily and the Summit Daily News. The Times published this story in its print version on Saturday, April 29, 2017.