The Colorado West Land Trust June News is hot off the presses

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Kids learn about conservation and birding on conserved land

Last month East Middle School 6th graders enjoyed a morning bird-watching hike at Avant Vineyards conserved property on East Orchard Mesa. Thanks so much to Nic Korte from the Grand Valley Audubon Society for leading the hike and Neil Guard at Avant Vineyards for hosting!

Photo credit: Colorado West Land Trust

#Colorado Primary #election June 26, 2018 #ActOnClimate

Leaf, Berthoud Pass Summint, August 21, 2017.

Mail-in ballots are in the mail for Colorado’s primary election.

Fact: To combat climate change humankind must end the burning of fossil fuels.

Fact: The means to replace fossil fuels are at hand, economic and effective.

Please consider voting for candidates that put the environment at the top or near the top of their list of issues. You can find their positions on the environment and in particular climate change on their websites.

To view the election calendar click here.

Here’s a look at the U.S. Climate Alliance from USA Today (Jerry Brown, Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee):

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change was a landmark moment in human history. It crystallized decades of negotiations into a framework embraced by every country in the world to confront the existential threat of climate change and work together to solve the challenge.

President Trump’s announcement exactly one year ago that he intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement raised global concerns that the agreement could weaken or unravel. Instead, Trump’s retreat has catalyzed leaders in America and around the world to stand shoulder to shoulder and press forward with climate solutions.

June 1 is not the anniversary of an end to one of the world’s greatest acts of consensus; it is a celebration of what Americans have done to fill the federal void. On the same day Trump abdicated climate leadership last year, we formed the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Agreement commitment in our states. In just one year, the alliance has grown into a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors representing 40% of the U.S. population and a $9 trillion economy — larger than that of every country in the world but the U.S. and China.

President Trump’s announcement last year centered on his allegation that the Paris Agreement hurts the U.S. economy. The fact that our collective economies are stronger than non-alliance states proves just the opposite. Alliance states are not only reducing emissions more rapidly than the rest of the country, but we are also expanding our per capita economic output twice as fast. Alliance states are attracting billions of dollars in climate and clean energy investments that have created 1.3 million clean energy jobs. The Alliance states are not alone: meeting the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement is projected to save the world $30 trillion in avoided economic damages.

While the Paris Agreement is one of the greatest tests in global collaboration, this interstate effort stands as one of the biggest and most important experiments in American policymaking. From modernizing power grids to scaling up renewable energy and reducing pollution, we are saving money and cleaning our air.

We will do everything in our power to defend and continue our climate actions. This includes continuing to oppose any federal proposal to cancel the Clean Power Plan, weaken clean car and appliance standards or expand offshore drilling. One year after President Trump’s abdication, the rapid economic growth of states within the U.S. Climate Alliance remain a beacon to all Americans and to every other nation that Americans are still in the Paris Agreement and will not retreat.

Despite President Trump’s Paris Agreement decision, the world continues to move forward and not backward on climate. One year after the president’s announcement, every other nation on earth has signed onto the Paris Agreement. China canceled plans for more than 100 coal-fired power plants in 2017, offshore wind energy is competing without subsidy in northern Europe, and several countries are making plans to shift cars from gas and diesel to electric, including China, France, India, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

We will work in lockstep with the nations of the world and continue our work to uphold the Paris Agreement. However, it is clear that we cannot meet the climate challenge alone. We need commitment from every U.S. state and we need the federal government to get back in the game. We invite others to join us and mark June 1 not as an anniversary of retreat, but as the moment when a bold, new movement of climate action took root in America.

Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington are co-chairs of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Follow them on Twitter: @JerryBrownGov, @NYGovCuomo and @GovInslee.

#Drought news: Fremont County update

West Drought Monitor May 29, 2018.

From The Canon City Daily Record (Carie Canterbury):

Currently, Colorado is experiencing the third lowest snowpack on record, with only 2002 and 1981 being drier, according to CPW. Extreme drought has expanded to cover most of the southern half of Colorado, with the worst conditions being in the southwest corner.

The Water Availability Task Force reports that in order to respond to persistent and prolonged drought conditions throughout the southern half of the state and along the western border, the Governor activated the Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan for the agricultural sector on May 2 in 33 counties that are experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought as classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Fremont County is not included in this list, but if present trends continue, other regions and sectors of the state’s economy may also be affected, the report indicates.

As of May 15, exceptional drought continues to affect southwest Colorado and has also been introduced in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, covering eight percent of the state. Extreme drought covers 23 percent of the state; severe drought 20 percent and 14 percent is classified as moderate drought, including most of Fremont County. An additional 14 percent of the state is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The May 2018 Drought Update issued by the WATF states that October 2017 through April 2018 was the fifth warmest and the fifth driest on record for the state as a whole. Some locations throughout southern Colorado have experienced their driest and/or warmest October-April period on record.

“Most regions of Southern Colorado reached their snow accumulation peak two to three weeks early and have experienced rapid snowmelt, resulting in melt out occurring three weeks earlier than normal,” the report states. “Streamflow forecasts in the southern half of the state are extremely low, with multiple sites showing below 15 percent of normal.”

Additionally, the report states that reservoir storage statewide is at 111 percent of normal, with all but the southwest basins above average. The Arkansas basin is reporting the highest average storage at 129 percent. Front Range water providers mainly draw water resources from areas of the state that received near normal winter precipitation, and are therefore expecting reservoirs to fill, and are not anticipating any water use restrictions outside normal operations.

Defense Department Reaffirms That #ClimateChange Is A National Security Issue

Western spring snowpack has been below normal six of the past seven years, meaning less water during the traditionally dry summer months. Graphic credit: Climate Central

From the Center for Climate Security:

Notably though unsurprisingly, due to consistent expressions of concern about climate change from senior defense leaders over the past year, the Department of Defense (DoD) on Sunday reaffirmed its stance on the growing national security risks associated with a changing climate. In a statement to the Washington Times, DoD spokesperson Heather Babb noted:

The effects of a changing climate continue to be a national security issue with potential impacts to missions, operational plans and installations…DOD has not changed its approach on ensuring installations and infrastructure are resilient to a wide range of challenges, including climate and other environmental considerations.

The article also quotes the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, John Conger, who commented on the practical, mission-based rationale for the military’s concern:

There are mission reasons to do these kinds of things. … If sea level rise is going to impact infrastructure, if a runway gets flooded, that’s a mission impact and that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to pay attention to.

It’s not like they’re doing some altruistic thing…They’re not trying to be good about climate change. They just recognize the reality that’s in front of you.

Pueblo Reservoir faced releasing millions of gallons of water in April, but its fast-acting users averted a major spill — Your Water Colorado Blog

By Jerd Smith Water Education Colorado It’s a drought year, right? But back in April, Pueblo Reservoir in southeastern Colorado was so full of water it came within days of releasing the excess, also known as “spilling,” to make room for spring runoff. Spilling water is painful in a semi-arid state, in part because whomever […]

via Pueblo Reservoir faced releasing millions of gallons of water in April, but its fast-acting users averted a major spill — Your Water Colorado Blog

Reusing water to craft a unique summertime beer – News on TAP

Declaration Brewery serves up a sustainable beer to celebrate Denver Water’s 100th anniversary.

Source: Reusing water to craft a unique summertime beer – News on TAP

Event Listings from Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership

From email from the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership:

11th Annual Ridgway RiverFest, Saturday, June 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rollans Park, Ridgway. Enjoy a community watershed celebration with live music, river races, food booths, arts & crafts, beer, margaritas, silent auction, and more. Funds raised support activities of the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership. For info: http://ridgwayriverfest.org…

River of Lost Souls Reading, Monday, Aug. 13, Sherbino Theater, 604 Clinton St., Ridgway. Come meet and ask questions of author Jonathan P. Thompson about the gripping story behind the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster that turned the Animas River orange with sludge and toxic metals. Organized in cooperation with the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership. For info: http://www.uncompahgrewatershed.org/events/…

Ouray Ice Park – Uncompahgre River Canyon Cleanup & BBQ, Saturday, September 15, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Join the Ouray Ice Park and Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership volunteers to pick up litter and debris in the ice climbing areas of the Uncompahgre River Canyon in Ouray. Then, enjoy a BBQ party to celebrate our efforts. For info: http://www.uncompahgrewatershed.org/events/

The San Luis Valley Conservation Fund scores $540,000 to bolster #conservation efforts

San Luis Valley via National Geographic

From the San Luis Valley Conservation Fund via The Conejos County Citizen:

The San Luis Valley Conservation Fund (SLVCF), a partnership between Colorado Open Lands, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, Western Rivers Conservancy and the LOR Foundation, announced its third round of grant awards for organizations working in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
A total of $540,000 was awarded recently by the SLVCF to bolster conservation efforts within the Valley and to help preserve the region’s rich cultural heritage while enhancing livability for local communities.

A total of 21 organizations received grants that ranged from $5,000 to $50,000.

“There is great work being done by the organizations and communities in the San Luis Valley, and the most recent round of grants from the SLVCF will only strengthen that work, maintaining the rich culture and natural beauty of this region for future generations,” said Jake Caldwell, program officer at the LOR Foundation. “We are proud that we are able to make these grants to 21 different local organizations in partnership with Colorado Open Lands, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust and Western Rivers Conservancy.”
Local grants follow:

Conejos Clean Water
Preserving Community: Sustaining Community Engagement and Construction of Facilities for Promotion –$30,000
This project will sustain programs that CCW has developed to enhance livability and health of San Luis Valley communities, especially through outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities for valley youth and families; additional preservation of local communities and their rich cultural heritage; and conservation of valley land and water through sustainable natural resource management practices.

Costilla County Conservancy District
Upper Culebra Watershed Planning Project – $35,000
This project aims to engage stakeholders in an inclusive process to develop a scope of work and prepare an RFP for a watershed assessment of the Culebra Watershed. Stakeholders will determine the needs of the ecological conditions of the area, identify problems, and develop a list of prioritized objectives needed for the assessment.

Costilla County Economic Development Council, Inc.,
Funding for project coordinator – $12,000
This award will fund the Project Coordinator position, which complements the work of the Hispano Farm Curriculum project by developing a signature exhibit at the Sangre de Cristo Heritage Center on acequias and the Hispano farm. The Coordinator will collaborate with public and private agencies and individuals to enhance collaborative partnerships for CCEDC projects and other projects such as Congreso de las Acequias.

Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association
Developing Strategies for the Sustainability of the Traditional Acequia Culture – $50,000
The Developing Strategies for the Sustainability of the Acequia Culture will be centered on the practices that were adopted through the Association’s ongoing strategic planning process for 2018. This includes employment of the association’s executive director, identifying member acequias, and developing training sessions for acequia producers, as well as collaborating with partners to develop needed programs.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Sustaining and Growing Our Valley Organizations – $30,000
As the San Luis Valley grows and evolves, its nonprofit organizations will be challenged to step up their community support. This project offers tools and techniques to sustain current operations and to position organizations for future growth.

The partners’ efforts are focused on the Rio Grande and the open space surrounding and dependent upon the river and its tributaries. The Rio Grande provides crucial habitat for fish and wildlife, including pronghorn, elk, bighorn sheep, over 200 bird species and 95 percent of the Rocky Mountains’ greater sandhill crane population.

The Rio Grande and its tributaries sustain the working ranches and farms that form the base of the region’s agricultural economy. They are also the primary source of water for the valley’s historic acequias, a system of communal irrigation in the southern portion of the valley that predates Colorado’s statehood and has connected local communities for generations.

The river also provides some of the best recreation opportunities for people throughout the San Luis Valley.
With the support of the LOR Foundation, COL, RiGHT and WRC are working together to help preserve the valley’s rich heritage, balancing agricultural needs with conservation and recreation along and around the Rio Grande.

San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Environmental and Regenerative Farming Education at the Rio Grande Farm Park – $35,000
This award will support RGFP’s initiative to enhance its environmental and regenerative farming educational offerings, which help visitors draw connections between the environment, recreation, and conservation. Park staff will create construction documents for an education pavilion and work with many partners to ensure that the plan meets the needs of local youth, families, residents, and other community stakeholders. In addition, the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Valley Roots Food Hub Regenerative Soil Farmer Project was awarded $5,000

The project will build on the burgeoning soil health movement in the SLV. This phase will feature participating farmers in a soil health marketing campaign aimed at area restaurants, schools, and other retailers. This will be accomplished by going to participating farms, touring the land, documenting and interviewing the farmer, and constructing the results into an effective marketing campaign.

Walk2Connect, Caminos del Valle Capacity Building – $13,000
This project is an investment in capacity building and new program development alongside a diverse list of partners for the San Luis Valley’s Caminos del Valle connection-focused walking community. The project will support development of meaningful walking events, walking leader training and community outreach throughout the Valley.