Herman Gulch greenback reintroduction

Herman Gulch via TheDenverChannel.com

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The biologists have purged this gulch of all other fish competitors.

But the first pure greenback cutthroat trout dropped into chilly streams Monday morning simply quivered at edges of eddies.

These captive-bred 1-year-olds — 960 of them — are thought to be hardier than the 4,000 hatchlings that Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists put in Herman Gulch last year. State crews conducted a survey last week and found no evidence any of the hatchlings survived the hard winter.

A whole lot of people really want the greenback cutthroats to make it in their ancestral home.

So on Monday morning, an expanding cutthroats recovery team coordinated by CPW mobilized, with more than 50 volunteers from Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups hauling 20-pound bags of the 5-inch fish into the high-country basin…

Most understood this is something of an ecological longshot because greenback cutthroats — listed as threatened on the nation’s endangered species roster — have all but disappeared. After all, evolution is all about change, and species come and go.

Greenback cutthroats originated in the South Platte River Basin headwaters. They disappeared as humans settled the region, mining for gold that turned water toxic, stocking streams with nonnative fish in hopes of promoting tourism.

State wildlife managers declared greenback cutthroats extinct in the 1930s. But they rediscovered them in 1953 and celebrated them in 1994 as Colorado’s official state fish. However, the fish that Colorado wildlife officials touted as the state fish was a different species of cutthroat trout.

In 2012, University of Colorado genetics scientists determined that only a few greenback cutthroats survived in the wild, by a fluke, southwest of Colorado Springs, in the Arkansas River Basin. Back in the 1870s, aspiring hotel resort operator Joseph Jones had captured some greenbacks from South Platte headwaters and plopped them into Bear Creek near his property. CU scientists verified that only the descendants of those fish carried the true greenback cutthroat genes.

CPW officials now are working intensely, gathering genetic material from Bear Creek fish and breeding tens of thousands of greenback cutthroats in hatcheries created to stock Colorado streams with trout that compete with native species.

CPW crews already have transplanted some greenback cutthroats successfully into Zimmerman Lake, west of Fort Collins.

“This would be the first steam,” CPW aquatic biologist Boyd Wright said Monday, directing the transplanting operation along 3 miles of streams. “And this is a fish that evolved in streams.”


If this second attempt at getting greenback cutthroats to survive in Herman Gulch fails, CPW officials said they’ll try once more next year. State crews this year also are planning to drop cutthroats into Dry Gulch, to the west of this site, and into Rock Creek in South Park.

But much depends on how the fish respond in this ideal habitat, a basin considered ecologically healthy.

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

#ColoradoClimate: NIDIS Intermountain West #Drought Early Warning System July 18, 2017

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through July 17, 2017.

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

@CSUutilities hydroelectric plant at Pueblo Reservoir will supply Fort Carson

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam — Photo/MWH Global

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Conrad Swanson):

A hydroelectric plant is planned for construction downstream from the Pueblo Dam to generate renewable energy for Fort Carson. Developers are just waiting for the signal to start building.

The plant would significantly increase the amount of renewable energy Fort Carson consumes, fitting with the post’s “Net Zero” goals of becoming more environmentally friendly.

The Colorado Springs Utilities board will consider adding a military sales tariff during its meeting Wednesday. The tariff would cover costs for Utilities to act as an intermediary, selling the power to Fort Carson after buying it from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which would build and operate the plant, said Utilities spokeswoman Amy Trinidad.

Adding the tariff is the “last step” before the district can begin construction, said spokesman Chris Woodka.

“We’ve been ready to pull the trigger on this since January,” he said.

Currently, 8 percent of Fort Carson’s electricity is generated on-site through renewable sources such as solar panels, post spokeswoman Dani Johnson said. She could not say whether the post buys any renewable energy from off-site sources.

But Trinidad said Fort Carson does buy some renewable energy from Utilities. She could not say how much, citing customer privacy. The proposed hydroelectric deal would make up 7 percent of the post’s annual electricity purchase from Utilities, she said.

If the tariff is added, the proposal then will go before the City Council, consisting of the same members as the Utilities board, next month. If the council approves the move, construction on the plant can begin, Woodka said.

The plant would cost about $19 million, most of which comes from a loan the district took out, he said. In the years to come, energy sales are expected to cover the costs and eventually generate funds.

The plant’s construction will not have a financial impact on Utilities ratepayers, Trinidad said.

The plant is expected to generate up to 7.5 megawatts of electricity, Woodka said. Fort Carson will buy half of that, and Fountain Utilities will buy the other half.

The plant could be operational by May 2018, a peak time for generating hydroelectricity because of the high volume of water flowing from the Pueblo Dam, Woodka said.

Utilities then would buy the electricity, which will be transmitted onto its grid, and then sell it to Fort Carson without marking up the price, Trinidad said.

In the past, Fort Carson bought renewable wind energy through Utilities under short-term contracts, which have since expired, said Steve Carr, Utilities’ key account manager for Fort Carson. The pending hydroelectricity contract would last until the end of 2027.

A streetcar named ‘Water Saver’ – News on TAP

Saving water in Denver will never go out of style, even if the mode of transportation does.

Source: A streetcar named ‘Water Saver’ – News on TAP