Mark Pifher: 2018 Aspinall Award Recipient #cwcac2018

This year’s recipient is Mark Pifher.

Here’s the release from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Chris Woodka):

Mark Pifher, who shepherded two of the state’s largest water projects to completion and a nationally recognized expert on water quality issues, was awarded the top award at this week’s Colorado Water Congress convention.

Pifher was awarded the Wayne N. Aspinall Water Leader of the Year Award.

Pifher, a Colorado Springs resident, is a member of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors, and recently retired from Colorado Springs Utilities. He previously was executive director of Aurora Water and served as executive director of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

“I’m thrilled to be among a very select group of water leaders who have received this award,” Pifher said.

The award is named for the late Rep. Wayne N. Aspinall, who was an influential member of Congress who pushed through many water projects in the 1950s and 1960s.

Pifher came to Colorado Springs Utilities in 2012 during the construction of the Southern Delivery System to help with permit issues and community relations. The $840 million water delivery project was the largest in Colorado in recent years.

From 2006-12, Pifher headed Aurora Water and Completed the $600 million Prairie Waters Project, which recycles return flows for reuse as a fresh water supply.

From 2002-06, Pifher led the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

Pifher still is a recognized authority on water quality issues, and has taken the lead in this area for the National Water Resources Association.

Pifher was greeted at the awards ceremony Friday by past winners of the award, his wife Wendy and his son Jeff, a jazz musician from Los Angeles.

Mark Pifher is congratulated by his wife, Wendy, after receiving the Aspinall Award at the 2018 Colorado Water Congress Aspinall Award Luncheon.

Greg Hobbs sent these photos along from the Aspinall Award Luncheon.

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Here’s Greg’s invocation from the luncheon:

Aspinall Award Lunch, Colorado Water Congress

Invocation

Welcome to the annual Aspinall Award Lunch. As the sun comes round again and the days grow longer,
it’s good to be a young person in love. It’s good to be in love at any age!

As we gather together in celebration of each other and Colorado, I invoke the love of Leroy and Martha Carpenter,
who gave birth to Delph Carpenter, the Architect of Compacts, a first generation descendant of the Union Colony.

As the railroad came in off the trans-Continental from Cheyenne as far as Evans in 1870, the Union Colony settled in near
the confluence of the Poudre and the South Platte rivers. Leroy arrived early with members of his family.

Delph’s parents courted each other by letters carried between Greeley and Martha’s home in eastern Iowa by way of the new Union Pacific
and Kansas Pacific railroad routes. Amidst the serious work of establishing a relationship line by line, they bantered about who would carry
whom across the Union Colony No. 2 and No. 3 ditches.

On October 2, 1871, Martha wrote “I should not certainly (fear) those numerous ditches if I could have some Carpenters to keep me
from falling into them.” (Dan Tyler and Betty Henshaw, Love In An Envelope at 47).

On January 14, 1872, Leroy suggested they would carry each other across. “And when we come to these ditches, I may carry you over
and then you may carry me over. Will that suit you?” (Envelope at 84).

A teacher and a wit, Martha responded playfully while clearly establishing that their relationship would be founded upon mutual consent,
“I don’t know whether I shall consent to carry you over the ditches or not.” (Envelope at 92).

To the south in the San Luis Valley, Hispanic settlers had constructed the San Luis People’s Ditch nearly twenty years earlier.
Long before that, the Utes were traveling back and forth along the rivers, canyons, mountains and plains of this land we now call Colorado.

As we all look to our heritage and to the forested watersheds, may the Lord bless and sustain each of us.

Greg Hobbs

It’s all about snow: 5 questions to test your expertise – News on TAP

It falls from the sky and melts, right? Well, there’s more to know about frozen H2O.

Source: It’s all about snow: 5 questions to test your expertise – News on TAP

The No Snow Report

Your Water Colorado Blog

By Elaine Chick, Water Information Program Manager

PoP124_gjtWinter is off to a dry start across the West, and the possibility of ongoing drought in many Southwest locations. Some say it could be the effects of La Niña—a periodic cooling of Pacific Ocean waters near the equator that often brings drought mostly in the Southwest and Texas.

Although it is still early in the winter season, and with luck, we may still see a variety of storms coming our way, there is concern how this will affect our watersheds and water supply for the year ahead.

The Water Information Program (WIP) spoke with a few experts to get their views on how the unusually high temperatures and dry weather will affect us here in the Southwest.

“We are experiencing 35 percent less than average water flowing in the rivers over the last 30 days,” commented Kevin Murphy from the U.S. Geological…

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Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention @COWaterCongress #cwcac2018

Urban coyote photo via Coyote Yipps

I’ll be live-tweeting from the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention today. Follow along on Twitter @CoyoteGulch or better yet, follow the conference hash tag #CWCAC2018. Check back here later today to find out who is the recipient of the Aspinall Award.

#Drought news: D2 (Severe Drought) expanded in S. #Colorado

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

Summary

A westerly flow dominated the upper-level circulation across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week. The week began with a frontal system exiting the eastern CONUS, and ended with another Pacific system moving across the country. The systems brought an inch to more than locally 5 inches of precipitation to the coasts and Cascades of northern California to Washington; 1 to 2 inches of precipitation to parts of the northern Rockies and in swaths from eastern Nebraska to the Great Lakes and from southeastern Oklahoma to the Mid-Mississippi Valley; and a few reports of 1 inch or more across parts of the South and Southeast. These amounts translated to above normal for the central Plains to western Great Lakes, parts of the Pacific Northwest, the swath from southeastern Oklahoma to the Mid-Mississippi Valley, and a few areas in the South and Southeast. But for large parts of the country, the week was drier than normal, with little to no precipitation falling across large parts of the Southwest and Southern Plains. The westerly flow brought above-normal temperatures to most of the West and across the northern states, especially the Northern Plains to western Great Lakes where weekly temperature departures were 9 to 15 degrees above normal. Weekly temperatures averaged below normal across the southern states from eastern Arizona to North Carolina, where the effects of earlier cold air masses still lingered. Contraction of drought and abnormal dryness occurred with the large winter storm that dumped on eastern Nebraska to the Great Lakes, and contraction occurred in a few other areas in the southern Plains and Northeast. But the continued dry conditions in the Southwest to Southern Plains and Southeast intensified and expanded drought and abnormal dryness in these areas…

High Plains

An inch or more of precipitation was reported at stations in eastern Nebraska and a few stations in western Wyoming and the Colorado Rockies. Amounts dropped off to the north and south, with many stations in the Dakotas and Kansas measuring no precipitation for the week. D0 contracted in eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota, and D2 was trimmed in western South Dakota, but D0 expanded in northeastern South Dakota and eastern North Dakota, D1 from Oklahoma crept into southeastern Kansas, and D2 from New Mexico pushed into southern Colorado. As relayed by the NDMC, agricultural impacts from the drought are being felt in Utah, Kansas, and Oklahoma and include decreasing hay and soybean yields, deteriorating wheat and grazing conditions, and decreasing water supplies — ponds and wells going dry. Some of these effects started from moisture deficits dating back to summer 2017…

West

A Pacific low and frontal system brought rain and snow to parts of northern California, Washington, Oregon, and the northern Rockies. Amounts were heaviest in favored upslope areas, with some stations along the coast and in the Cascades reporting over 5 inches of precipitation. Six inches to over a foot of new snow was added to several high elevation SNOTEL stations. But this is the wet season when normals are high, so even with the beneficial precipitation, much of the West was drier than normal this week. The Pacific system dried out as it crossed the coastal ranges, and the precipitation largely missed the southern states in the West. Several stations in New Mexico have gone over a hundred days with no measurable precipitation, including Moriarty and Conchas Dam. The Weather Service office at Albuquerque has measured only 0.03 inch since October 5, 2017. Several SNOTEL stations in the Sangre De Cristos were reporting the lowest year on record for snow water equivalent (SWE). The low snowpack in the mountains was impacting the recreation industry (ski resorts), but some parts of New Mexico were beginning to see agricultural impacts, mostly forage. As relayed by the NDMC, agricultural impacts from the drought are being felt in Utah, Kansas, and Oklahoma and include decreasing hay and soybean yields, deteriorating wheat and grazing conditions, and decreasing water supplies — ponds and wells going dry. Some of these effects started from moisture deficits dating back to summer 2017. D1 expanded in southeastern New Mexico; D2 grew in southwestern and northern New Mexico and into adjacent southern Colorado, and expanded in central and southern Arizona; and D0 expanded into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California. The California D0 expansion reflected low mountain snowpack values; many lakes and reservoir levels were down as part of flood mitigation activities, but water supply was adequate. The low SWE and precipitation values, as well as high evaporative demand due to above-normal temperatures, were widespread across California and Nevada, but no additional changes were made this week due to the Pacific storm and normal to above-normal streamflows…

Looking Ahead

In the 2 days since the Tuesday morning cutoff time of this week’s USDM, one storm system moved across the Northeast and exited the CONUS while another Pacific low and frontal system was moving into the Northwest. The Pacific system will dry out as it crosses the Rockies, then pick up Gulf of Mexico moisture when it moves across the eastern half of the country. For January 23-30, 5+ inches of precipitation is forecast for the coastal regions from northern California to Washington and up to 5 inches for northern Idaho, with lesser amounts from central California to Montana. When the system crosses the Plains, another region of precipitation will develop with amounts ranging from half an inch to locally over an inch along a line from eastern Texas to the eastern Great Lakes, then eastward from that line to the East Coast. Little to no precipitation is forecast for southern California and the Southwest, much of the Plains, and most of the Upper Midwest. Temperatures are predicted to be above normal across most of the CONUS. For January 30-February 7, precipitation is expected to be below normal for Alaska and much of the West to southern Plains, but above normal from Montana to the Great Lakes and from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast. Odds favor above-normal temperatures across the Southwest and along the East Coast, and below-normal temperatures in southeastern Alaska and from Washington State to the northern Plains. Projections suggest that the central Plains will begin the period warmer than normal, but that colder-than-normal air masses will plunge south and east into the southern Plains and Great Lakes by the end of the period.

8th Annual Conservation in the West Poll Finds Strong Support for Protecting Land and Water; Voters Reject National Monument Attacks

Here’s the release from the State of the Rockies Project (Colorado College):

Western voters say protected public lands are critical to state economies, oppose Trump administration efforts to eliminate land, water, and wildlife protections

Mountain West voters weighed in on the Trump administration’s priorities for managing the use and protection of public lands in a new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll released [Thursday, January 25, 2017].

The poll, now in its eighth year, surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states on some of the most pressing issues involving public lands and waters, including proposals to eliminate or alter national monuments.

Underpinning the importance Western voters place on protecting public lands, 93 percent of Westerners surveyed view the outdoor recreation economy as important for the economic future of their state. 81 percent view the presence of public lands and their state’s outdoor recreation lifestyle as an advantage in attracting good jobs and innovative companies. Western voters are more likely to identify as a conservationist today than two years ago, with significant increases in every Western state.

Overall, voter approval for President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife sits at 38 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The administration’s approval rating on the issue was below 50 percent in every state surveyed — ranging from 34 percent in Nevada and New Mexico to 47 percent in Utah — with the exception of Wyoming.

Asked where the Trump administration should place its emphasis between protection and development, 64 percent of respondents said they prefer protecting water, air and wildlife while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on national public lands. That is compared to 23 percent of respondents who said they prefer the administration prioritize domestic energy production by increasing the amount of national public lands available for responsible drilling and mining.

Westerners hold national monuments in especially high regard. Eighty-two percent described them as helping nearby economies, 86 percent as national treasures, 90 percent as important places to be conserved for future generations, 90 percent as places to learn about America’s history and heritage, and 95 percent as places they want their children to see someday. Twenty- four percent said national monuments hurt the local economy and 27 percent said they tie up too much land that could be put to other uses.

Majorities in every state—and 66 percent overall—view the recent Trump administration’s decision to remove existing protections and reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monuments in Utah by 2 million acres as a bad idea. In Utah voters are divided on the national monument changes in their state, with a slightly higher percentage of voters (49 percent) saying President Trump’s action was a bad idea than those saying it was a good idea (46 percent).

A Trump administration decision to alter or eliminate additional national monuments would be unpopular with 69 percent of respondents across the Mountain West. Locally, 70 percent of Nevadans view changes to Gold Butte National Monument as a bad idea and 68 of New Mexicans think the same of changes two national monuments in their state, Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

“Over the eight-year history of the Conservation in the West Poll, a passion for the outdoors and strong support for American public lands have remained constant in the Mountain West,” said Dr. Walt Hecox, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Colorado College and founder of the State of the Rockies Project. “Nearly all of the people surveyed said they visited national public lands in the past year and plan to go to a national park in 2018. Public lands drive our economy and define our way of life. A leadership agenda that does not recognize that reality is going to be met with strong disapproval in the West.”

Specifically, several actions recently undertaken or currently under consideration by the Trump administration are unpopular with voters in the Mountain West:

  • 37 percent of respondents support [49 percent oppose] raising fees to enter some of the country’s largest national parks during peak season;
  • 32 percent of respondents support [50 percent oppose] privatizing the management of campgrounds, visitor centers and other services provided at national parks and other national public lands;
  • 29 percent of respondents support [59 percent oppose] expanding how much public land is available to private companies which pay for the ability to drill for oil and gas on public lands;
  • 26 percent of respondents support [60 percent oppose] expanding how much public land is available to private companies which pay for the ability to mine for uranium and other metals on public lands;
  • 18 percent of respondents support [70 percent oppose] allowing mining on public lands next to Grand Canyon National Park, a practice that is currently banned;
  • 27 percent of respondents support [64 percent oppose] changing current plans to protect habitat for threatened sage-grouse in Western states;
  • and, conversely, 75 percent of respondents support [15 percent oppose] requiring oil and gas producers who operate on public lands to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas during the extraction process and reduce the need to burn off excess natural gas into the air – a regulation the Trump administration is seeking to overturn.
  • With the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show beginning this week in Denver, after the Outdoor Industry Association ended its 20-year partnership with Salt Lake City as a result of Utah politicians’ hostility toward land conservation and U.S. public lands, the impact of the Trump administration’s recent actions on local outdoor economies is top of mind for the outdoor recreation business community:

    “Protecting public lands is a bipartisan issue with constituents across the West agreeing that public lands and waters should remain open and accessible for all to enjoy,” said Travis Campbell, chairman of the board for the Outdoor Industry Association and President of Smartwool. “Unfortunately, the current administration’s actions are not lining up with voters’ desires. We need people from both sides of the aisle to express their dissatisfaction with their legislators and let their voices be heard.”

    The poll showed strong support for cleaner forms of energy in the Mountain West. Respondents in six of the eight states surveyed pointed to solar as the source of energy that best represents the future of energy in their state. Wind was the top choice in Montana and Wyoming, and the second-ranked choice in four other states.

    With record-low snowpack in parts of the West, the drought remained a top concern this year, as low levels of water in rivers and inadequate water supplies were identified as serious issues facing their state by 82 percent and 80 percent of respondents respectively. 78 percent of respondents prefer addressing the water shortage by using the current water supply more wisely through conservation, reduction and recycling rather than by diverting more waters from rivers in less populated places to communities where more people live. 75 percent of respondents in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah view the Colorado River as “at risk.”

    This is the eighth consecutive year Colorado College has gauged the public’s sentiment on public lands and conservation issues. Idaho was added to the survey for the first time this year. The 2018 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

    The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of eight Western states (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT & WY) for a total 3,200-person sample. The survey was conducted in late December 2017 and early January 2018 and has a margin of error of ±2.65 percent nationwide and ±4.9 percent statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the State of the Rockies website.

    From Wyofile.com (Angus M. Thuermer Jr.):

    Eighty-two percent of Wyoming voters believe elected officials in Washington D.C. do not reflect their values, a poll released Thursday says.

    When it comes to elected officials in the state itself, 59 percent of respondents said local officials generally reflect voters’ beliefs.

    The 2018 Conservation in the West Poll randomly quizzed 400 Wyoming voters, 67 percent of whom were registered Republicans. The survey had a 4.9 percent error margin, was conducted for the eighth year in a row, and covered seven other Western states alongside Wyoming.

    Colorado College released the findings in its State of the Rockies Project at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver where gear and clothing makers meet this week. The trade show is sponsored in part by the Outdoor Industry Association, which abandoned its traditional Salt Lake City venue this year because of Utah’s public-lands policies, seen as detrimental to the industry.

    Voters were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “Elected officials in Washington, D.C. generally reflect my values.” They responded to a similar question regarding elected officials in Wyoming.

    The Wyoming poll also found that more than three-quarters — 76 percent — of state voters would rather conserve water, recycle it or reduce use than divert water from rural to urban areas.

    The survey also found 55 percent of Equality-state voters back the state’s conservation plans for greater sage grouse. A minority of 38 percent would see Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke change those plans to allow more oil and gas production and other activities.

    Wyoming was the only state in which respondents said they approved of President Trump’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife. The 59 percent approval buttressed observations that Wyoming “tends to be a bit of an outlier,” pollster Dave Metz told an audience at the trade show during a live-streamed presentation. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah also were polled in the survey that contacted 3,200 persons overall through cell and landline telephones.

    $60k grant from NFWF means more greenback cutthroats in Colorado waters — #Colorado Parks and Wildlife

    Greenback cutthroat trout photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

    More greenback cutthroats are headed to a creek near you, thanks to a $60k grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s “Bring Back the Natives” (BBN) program.

    This project to restore native greenback cutthroat trout to 14 miles of stream in George and Cornelius Creeks in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Poudre River, reached a major funding milestone with the award of the $60k grant. The BBN grant will go toward the design and construction of a temporary barrier to upstream fish migration in Cornelius Creek, enabling systematic eradication of non-native brook trout, brown trout, and whirling disease from the watershed.

    “George Creek holds great promise for recovering Greenback cutthroat trout, but our conservation success depends on broad support from many partners,” said Canyon Lakes District Ranger Katie Donahue. “Receiving a national funding award from NFWF is a great step along our path.”

    The grant is the direct result of continued support for the project from Colorado Trout Unlimited. In addition to this grant “The Greenbacks,” a chapter of CTU, previously leveraged funds from a crowd sourced fundraising effort to secure a grant from Patagonia’s World Trout Initiative, resulting in the contribution of $17k toward a permanent barrier at the downstream end of the project. This barrier will exclude non-native trout from the watershed in perpetuity.

    “We’re proud of how our volunteers have risen to meet the call,” said David Nickum, Executive Director for Colorado Trout Unlimited. “From backpacking fish into high-mountain restoration sites and releasing them back into their native range, to helping install fish barriers to protect native recovery areas, TU members have been hardworking, enthusiastic partners in recovery.”

    This recent BBN grant brings the total amount of funding raised from grant sources and other public fundraising activities to $162k for the project.

    About the George Creek Multi-phase greenback recovery project

    The George Creek greenback restoration project has been in the works for three years and consists of three phases: (1) eradicate nonnative trout from upper George Creek [Summer 2018], (2) eradicate trout from upper Cornelius Creek, (3) eradicate non-native trout in lower reaches of George Creek down to a permanent barrier near the confluence with Sheep Creek. The BBN grant will help fund phase 2.

    Native greenback cutthroat trout will be re-stocked into the streams when it has been confirmed that all non-native trout and whirling disease have been completely eradicated, in the year 2025 at the earliest.

    The George Creek restoration project will ultimately restore native greenbacks to 14 miles of quality trout stream habitat, more than tripling the number of stream miles currently occupied by greenbacks in their native range, the South Platte Basin.

    “Our work has been benefitted greatly from our strong partnerships with Colorado Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service,” said Boyd Wright, Native Aquatic Species Biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It is gratifying to work together to ensure that future generations will enjoy Colorado’s greenback cutthroat trout for years to come.”

    For more information on the native greenback cutthroat story, visit: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchGreenbackCutthroatTrout.aspx

    Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout