Clear Creek: August wet weather leads to longer rafting season

Clear Creek rafting via MyColoradoLife.com

From The Clear Creek Courant (Ian Neligh):

Local rafting businesses agree they’ve already experienced a busy and prolonged rafting season in the county, and several rafting companies were still operating in mid-August. However, some have closed for the season.

Suzen Raymond, owner of Mile-Hi Rafting, pulled her boats out of the water the week of Aug. 14.

“We’ve quit rafting because the water just got too low for us to raft,” Raymond said, “but overall the season was a really good rafting season for us.”

Raymond predicts that her business may see a 10 percent jump over last year.

“It’s a pretty good spike for us every year,” Raymond said. “We traditionally run up a little bit, except, of course, in the drought years.”

According to the Colorado Outfitters Association, late-season rafting is still going strong across the state including on the upper Colorado River and Arkansas River.

Brandon Gonski, general manager at AVA Rafting, said the business is already experiencing a longer season on both rivers.

“Clear Creek tends to end a little earlier, but (as of) Aug. 23, we’re pretty excited that we’ve stayed open this year this late,” Gonski said…

Gonski said his company has also seen a good year, which he said could be in part attributed to the prolonged season. While the end of the season differs for every company, AVA ended its season last year on Aug. 16.

@USBR grant ($965,000) to Orchard Mesa Irrigation District and Grand Valley Water Users Association for hydro plant

Photo credit: The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Construction could begin this year on upgrading the hydroelectric plant on the Colorado River near Palisade with a $965,000 federal grant.

The Bureau of Reclamation on Tuesday awarded the grant to the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District and Grand Valley Water Users Association.

The grant is one of 43 WaterSmart grants made to agencies around the country and will help fund a $5.2 million project to replace and upgrade the turbines at the plant.

The turbines now in the plant are the original equipment installed in 1932, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District General Manager Max Schmidt said.

He decided to seek the grant last year after the plant was shut down and he inspected the turbines…

Better turbines will make it possible for the plant to generate 4.1 megawatts, or an expansion of 1.35 megawatts.

It also will allow for the plant to generate an additional 6,000 megawatt-hours.

The improvement and new power generation will maintain and protect the plant’s existing water right and help assure that there will be enough water in the Colorado River’s 15-mile reach for endangered fish, in particular the Colorado pike minnow, razorback sucker and humpback chub, the Colorado River District noted.

Bicycling the Colorado National Monument, Grand Valley in the distance via Colorado.com

Harvey Gap Reservoir to be drained for inspection of dam outlet – bag, possession and size limits removed for all species

Harvey Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group.

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Mike Porras):

Harvey Gap Reservoir to be drained for inspection of dam outlet, bag, possession and size limits removed for all species

The Silt Water Conservancy District is announcing that they will need to drain Harvey Gap Reservoir to inspect the dam outlet structure. To save as many fish as possible, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has authorized an emergency fish salvage at the reservoir located north of Silt, effective immediately. Using conventional, legal tackle only, anglers are encouraged to catch and keep as many fish as they can, including tiger muskie, northern pike, channel catfish, black crappie, trout, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.

The use of explosives, toxicants, firearms, spearfishing, jugs or trotlines, archery, gigs or electricity will remain illegal.

Anglers can fish at night to encourage the salvage of channel catfish.

All anglers are required to have a valid Colorado fishing license and the usual restrictions will remain in place at all other lakes in the area, as well as throughout the state.

According to the Silt Water Conservancy District, the reservoir will remain mostly empty until the dam is thoroughly inspected. Once the reservoir is permanently refilled, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will restock the popular fishery with approved species; however, when that will occur is undetermined.

The public is advised to use caution as deep mud will be present as the reservoir is drained.

Signs alerting anglers about the fish salvage will be posted.

Anglers are advised to call Rifle Gap State Park at 970-625-1607 to get the latest conditions if they plan to launch a boat.

Harvey Gap State Park is a day-use area only; however, fishing is allowed throughout the night. Overnight camping and pets are prohibited.

A valid park pass is required, available at self service stations at Harvey Gap State Park, or at the Visitor Center at nearby Rifle Gap State Park.

For questions about the reservoir draining, inspection and repairs, contact the Silt Water Conservancy District at 970-876-2393 or by email at swcd@rof.net.

For questions about the fish salvage, contact Northwest Region Senior Aquatic Biologist Lori Martin at 970-255-6186.

For more information and directions to Harvey Gap State Park, call 970-625-1607, or visit http://www.cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/harveygap

Fire near Strontia Springs a worry for Metro area water suppliers

Photo credit: Douglas County Sherriff (@dcsheriff).

From The Denver Post (Kieran Nicholson):

The Waterton fire grew to about 6 acres Thursday night at dusk, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire is burning through a watershed that supplies 80 percent of the drinking water to Denver residents, according to a Pike National Forest news release.

Firefighting crews were on scene Thursday evening, and a helicopter was making water drops on the fire, the sheriff’s office said…

The fire is zero percent contained.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was a storm, however, in the area about noon, when the fire broke out.

Smoke jumpers from Pocatello, Idaho, were on scene Thursday and air tankers, helicopters, hand crews and additional resources were on order.

Denver Water officials were also on scene Thursday. Officials hope to have the popular canyon open for the holiday weekend, further details on accessibility will be released Friday afternoon.