San Juan National Forest Announces Release of the Final Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan

Here’s the release from the San Juan National Forest:

The San Juan National Forest has released the Final Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan. This is the “go-to” document for how the Hermosa Special Management Area and Wilderness will be managed. This document is different from the Environmental Analysis because it combines the proposed action with recently-signed decisions. It does not contain alternatives that were not chosen or much background information or rationale, which can be found in the EA.

Two travel-themed maps are posted showing new rules for motorized and mechanized (bicycle) uses in the Hermosa Creek watershed. The maps and Final Plan are available in the “Post-Decision” tab on the webpage:

For additional information, please contact the Columbine Ranger District at 970-884-2512.

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

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

The temperature in Siberia rose 100 degrees. The northern U.S. may pay a frigid price.

The GFS model shows a huge high pressure zone over eastern Russia/Siberia, resulting in milder-than-normal conditions. (

From The Washington Post (Jason Samenow):

As an antidote to the report of minus-88 degree weather in the Siberian outpost of Oymyakon earlier this month, we give you this: The temperature in a settlement just to its east was an astonishing 126 degrees warmer two weeks later.

The mercury in Omolon, Russia, reached its highest January temperature ever recorded Monday: a relatively toasty 38.4 degrees.

But the warmth flooding east Siberia and parts of the Arctic may, in turn, displace the frigid air that is normally pooled there sending it surging south into the north central and Northeastern U.S. through mid-February.

What’s causing the Siberian warm spell?

The mild weather over east Siberia can be traced to the development of an enormous, bulging zone of high pressure over eastern Russia (see top image). Mashable science editor Andrew Freedman called it “one heckuva monster” on Twitter.

Underneath this high pressure zone, models show temperature differences from normal exceeding 50 degrees over a broad area. Weather.US meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted that these temperature anomalies are “off the charts.”

Temperature difference from normal simulated by the GFS model on Tuesday over eastern Russia and western Alaska. (

The Arctic seas, surrounding this region, including the East Siberia, Bering and Chukchi have historically low amounts of ice, which is likely intensifying this warm pattern.

The decline in Arctic sea ice has also been linked to similar temperature spikes observed near the North Pole in recent years, when temperatures have surged to the melting point on repeated occasions even in the midst of winter.

A study in the journal Nature concluded the loss of sea ice “is making it easier” for weather systems to transport heat poleward.

#Snowpack news: Aspinall Unit operations update — 650 CFS in the Black Canyon

Looking downstream from Chasm View, Painted Wall on right. Photo credit: NPS\Lisa Lynch

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be decreased by 100 cfs on Thursday, February 1st. Releases are being decreased in response to the very dry conditions and forecast for low spring runoff. Currently snowpack in the Upper Gunnison Basin is at 64% of normal. The latest runoff volume forecast for Blue Mesa Reservoir projects 420,000 AF of inflow between April and July, which is 62% of average.

Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for January through March.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are at 0 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 750 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be at 0 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 650 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

#Colorado Communities Symposium Day 1 recap #CoCommunities

From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott) The Aurora Sentinel:

Colorado has released an update of its state climate plan that includes additional steps to limit greenhouse gases and to prepare for potential impacts from global warming.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the update Wednesday at a symposium on clean energy and climate change.

The revision calls for a new rule on reporting on greenhouse gas emissions that mirrors a federal rule, working with utilities to increase the use of renewable energy and building more charging stations for electric vehicles.

It also calls for research into links between climate change and insect-born diseases and heat-related illnesses.

The update proposes that climate variability be included in statewide water planning and using forest management practices that reduce wildfires, improve wildlife habitat and capture and store carbon that might otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Liz Forster):

Gov. John Hickenlooper rolled out the latest update of his climate blueprint for the state Wednesday at the first Colorado Communities Symposium, calling on nearly 400 local and state officials, businesses and nonprofit leaders in attendance to act to build an attractive brand for Colorado…

The plan highlights eight main areas – water, public health, greenhouse gas emissions, energy, transportation, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and ecosystems – as focal points for bolstering climate resilience and adaptivity.

Hickenlooper demanded leaders act with urgency, not only for the health of the environment but for the strength of Colorado’s economy. “The faster we move, the more it is to our benefit,” he said.

He mentioned the proposal to shut down two coal-fired power plants in Pueblo owned by Xcel Energy. The move would reduce air pollutants without a cost increase to Xcel customers in Pueblo, he and David Eves, the president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said.

And although it initially would displace 85 jobs at the plants, Xcel is exploring opportunities to open a solar project at the county’s steel mill facility to provide jobs and clean energy to the Pueblo County community, Eves said.

The symposium was born out of the governor’s executive order on climate change issued in July, which set emission reduction goals for the state, among other steps. Participants echoed Hickenlooper’s call for swift action, saying the state needs to move at the pace of technological development and in the direction of economic trends…

A hot topic at the symposium and across the state is transportation. With talk of electric vehicle expansion, autonomous public transit and a Hyperloop train between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Pueblo, Colorado policymakers and business owners are building partnerships to ensure that every pocket of the state benefits from such innovations.

The next two days of the symposium will be spent formulating concrete methods to tackle these challenges and propel Colorado forward as a leader in business, tourism and sustainability.

Although Colorado Springs City Council members, Mayor John Suthers and El Paso County commissioners are not in attendance, Colorado Springs Utilities and members of the Manitou Springs government are representing the county’s interests at the symposium.