CSU’s Salazar Center presents inaugural International Symposium on Conservation Impact September 24, 2019

Photo by Reid Neureiter via Colorado State University

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Catie Boehmer):

Colorado State University’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation is hosting the inaugural International Symposium on Conservation Impact, featuring former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank, and a broad range of conservation experts from Canada to Mexico.

The symposium is set for Tuesday, Sept. 24, the first day of the 2019 Biennial of the Americas Festival, at the McNichols Civic Center Building in downtown Denver. It will convene thought leaders in conservation policy, practice, and research around the theme of landscape connectivity across the continent and will establish a forum to track, incent, recognize, and reward progress on conservation challenges in North America.

The Center also will announce a significant competitive prize for conservation impact at the symposium.

“In the face of global warming, the alarming disappearance of biodiversity and healthy connected ecosystems, and a growing world population that now exceeds 7.5 billion people, the Center looks to invest in cutting-edge ideas and world-class conservation leaders to pioneer projects that address these increasingly urgent challenges. These approaches are needed today more than ever,” said Beth Conover, director of CSU’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation.

Beth Conover, director of CSU’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Symposium focus

With its continent-wide focus on landscape conservation and connections across borders, the symposium will bring together a range of stakeholders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to build bridges between academic research, on-the-ground practice, and policy in the conservation space.

Recognizing that conservation efforts must also engage the interests of a broad and inclusive set of constituencies in order to be successful, the Center aims to bring more and new voices into the conversation, including many of whom have previously been unheard or excluded.

The Salazar Center’s efforts are bolstered by its home within CSU. A land-grant institution, CSU is a respected leader in environmental and conservation research and is recognized for its preeminent conservation programs and interdisciplinary strength.

The Salazar Center has seeded partnerships with a robust community of faculty and staff who are working on conservation-related issues, and this network continues to grow. The Center will ultimately be headquartered at CSU’s complex at the National Western Center, an unprecedented space for researchers and stakeholders from various backgrounds and from around the world to collaborate on issues at the intersection of water, food, sustainability, and human and animal health.

Speakers and tickets

Keynote speakers and panelists at the symposium will include: former U.S. Interior Secretary (and Center namesake) Ken Salazar, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank, CSU President Joyce McConnell, Gary Tabor (Center for Large Landscape Conservation), Cristina Mormorunni (Wildlife Conservation Society), Mark Anderson (The Nature Conservancy), Ruth Musgrave (National Council of Environmental Legislators), Loren Bird Rattler (Blackfeet Nation), Exequiel Ezcurra (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States), Eli Enns (Iisaak Olam Foundation), and Leigh Whelpton (Conservation Finance Network), with additional speakers to be announced soon.

The symposium and incentive prize are made possible with support from the Trinchera Blanca Foundation, an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, founded by Louis Bacon; CSU; the Biennial of the Americas; the Center for Large Landscape Conservation; the Bohemian Foundation; the Kendeda Fund; Denver Parks and Recreation; New Belgium Brewing; and a number of generous individual donors.

Tickets are available at http://regonline.com/conservationimpact2019.

Pat Edelmann rejoins Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board

Pat Edelmann. Photo credit: Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

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

Pat Edelmann, who spent his career exploring water issues in the Arkansas River basin, has rejoined the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board.

Edelmann, 64, was appointed to the board this month to represent El Paso County. He lives in Colorado Springs. Edelmann served on the board as a Pueblo County representative from 2014-17. He replaces Gibson Hazard, who retired from the board in April.

“I resigned because I had moved, so I am happy to be serving again,” Edelmann said.

Edelmann retired from the U.S. Geological Survey after 37 years in 2011. He served 32 years in the Pueblo USGS office. During that time, he spearheaded numerous water quality studies dealing with the Arkansas River, Fountain Creek and other tributaries to the river during a time when water quality emerged as a central issue for water development in the basin.

The Southeastern District includes parts of nine counties, and administers the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. There are 15 directors on the board who are appointed by District Court judges in Pueblo and within their specific geographic areas.

First snow of the season dusts Colorado high country — The Lamar Ledger #snowpack

Photo via Snowflakes Bentley (Wilson A. Bentley)

From The Lamar Ledger (Chris Bianchi):

Loveland, Aspen and Keystone were among the ski resorts to see a dusting of snow Thursday.

It won’t exactly go down as a powder day, but the first snow of the fall season fell on some of Colorado’s highest terrain overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Keystone Resort, Winter Park and Aspen were among the ski resorts that woke up to a little wintry dusting on Thursday morning…

No significant accumulations were measured in Colorado, and most of the snow melted off later on Thursday.

That said, Trail Ridge and Old River Fall roads in Rocky Mountain National Park closed Wednesday night into Thursday morning due to the snow. They both reopened on Thursday morning.

USFS, Lake County, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are teaming up to improve aquatic habitat along Lake Fork Creek

Lake Fork Creek below Sugarloaf dam near Leadville. Photo credit: Katie Walton Day/USGS

From the US Forest Service via The Leadville Herald:

A popular dispersed-camping area located west of Leadville on Lake Fork Creek downstream of Turquoise Lake and County Road 4 will benefit from a major restoration project developed by the USDA Forest Service, Lake County, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The project, which was to start on Sept. 3 and finish in about eight weeks, will improve the overall aquatic habitat in Lake Fork Creek.

The restoration work entails strategically placing large boulders, whole trees, and smaller rocks and logs in a manner that mimics natural features of a stream. Banks and areas where excessive erosion has occurred will be stabilized and planted with native willows, grasses, and sedges. When complete, the project should reduce erosion and sediment that clouds the water and create more deep pools where fish feed and overwinter.

Moving the boulders and whole trees in this spot requires heavy machinery. For this reason, the area will be closed to all public use during implementation. Camping and entering the area will be prohibited from Sept. 3 through Nov. 1. Campers should consider using the eastern side of Forest Road 113 (closer to County Road 4) during this timeframe.

“This project should have a direct and positive impact on the stream’s hydrology, fish habitat, and bank stabilization, and we expect it will restore a more natural-appearing setting for recreationists visiting the area,” said Erich Roeber, district ranger.

Janelle Valladares, San Isabel National Forest fish biologist added, “By improving the habitat, we expect to see more and bigger fish in the stream in the next couple of years.”

The full text of the closure order and a map can be found at the Leadville Ranger District Office, the Forest & Grassland Supervisor’s Office (Pueblo), and on their websites.

Climax restoring wetlands lost due to mining — The Leadville Herald

Climax mine, 2007. By JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26390953

From The Leadville Herald (Rachel Woolworth):

As one heads north on Colorado 91 over Fremont Pass, just past Climax Mine, a flat and barren expanse is seen to the west of the highway. Once an active tailings-storage facility, signs of life are now emerging above the reclaimed field’s hardened dirt.

Climax is in the process of transforming the westernmost corner of the Robinson Tailings Storage Facility, also known as Lake Irwin, into a wetland. The site will offset wetland habitat lost in Climax’s McNulty Gulch expansion project, an enlargement of the mine’s overburden stockpile facility visible just across the highway to the east.

McNulty Gulch is home to several wetland habitats, including seeps, springs and plant families like sedges, willows and rushes that will all be disturbed in the coming years as the mine expands.

Climax will soon need additional storage space for unmineralized overburden material, and was required to apply for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit before enlarging the stockpile’s footprint. The permit, which was conditionally approved, requires Climax to replicate McNulty Gulch’s wetlands at a two-to-one replacement ratio.

Since 2017, Climax has worked to bring nine acres of wetland to life at Lake Irwin. This is the first phase of the 36-acre project.

Before planting could occur, the site needed grading and an engineered water-delivery system.

The acreage was excavated to remove historic tailings, which were transported north to the Mayflower Tailings Storage Facility. The area was then graded for drainage and covered with topsoil where needed. A network of culverts was also engineered to catch and direct the snowmelt that flows down Sheep Mountain each spring, runoff that has flooded the site in past years.

In 2018 and 2019, Climax focused on planting.

Cuttings were collected from willows already accustomed to extreme temperatures and strong winds at McNulty Gulch and the headwaters of the Arkansas River, and planted at Lake Irwin. After growing from seed at AlpineEco Nursery in Buena Vista, herbaceous plants like beaked sedge, tufted hairgrass and mountain rush were also transplanted on the site.

To date, over 40,000 herbaceous plants and willows have been planted at Lake Irwin. Thousands more plants will be added to the wetland in the coming years as phase two (18 acres) and phase three (nine acres) of the project unfold. The project’s phases will be monitored by the Army Corps of Engineers.

In 2014, Climax completed a similar mitigation project after disrupting a wetland during the construction of the mine’s new water treatment plant. The constructed wetland is now a healthy riparian habitat, a small fenced-in plot brimming with tall green grasses between the water plant and Tenmile Creek.

Climax currently holds a silver tier certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council for site-wide biodiversity and conservation initiatives.

“Ideally, we’d like Lake Irwin to look like this in five years,” Climax’s Chief Environmental Scientist Diana Kelts said of the wetland near the water plant. “But on a larger scale.”

Climax Mine tailings ponds Google Maps screenshot.

Op-Ed: Congress Must Protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund — Erica Hernandez (via Westword) #LWCF

Colorado National Monument from the River Front Trail near Fruita.

Here’s a guest column from Erica Hernandez that is running in Westword:

I have been in Colorado for twelve years, the longest I have lived in any single place, and it’s hard to leave. I climb, ski, bike around Denver and hike with friends. Living here has taught me how important access to the outdoors is. It’s molded who I am, my lifestyle and my priorities, and I know I am not alone. Whether we want to ski, climb or hike, Colorado’s vast state and national parks have something for all of us.

As a local leader involved with Latino Outdoors, a group that aims to connect Latino communities to the outdoors, I am passionate about getting Latino youth and families outside to learn all that Denver’s neighboring lands can offer. Education and being outside are powerful tools for young minds. As a child, whenever my cousins and I would get together, we’d use our wonder and curiosity to fuel adventures.

It is important we continue to have parks and green spaces, in the city and in the mountains, and it is up to us to educate young minds about the importance of the outdoors, because they will be in charge of conserving these lands for future generations.

Outdoors lovers contribute so much to our economy, our congressional representatives must also put Colorado’s public lands first. Annually, more than 2.2 million people come to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and explore our parks, contributing $3 billion to the state economy, and the outdoors industry counts some 229,000 employees. We need our elected officials in Washington to advocate for programs that support this. This is why we need our leaders to support the permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Since 1964, LWCF has doled out $271.8 million to Colorado alone. More than 900 parks and projects in our state have been supported through LWCF, including local parks like Aztlan, Berkely, Montbello, Barnum and Sloan’s Lake, and national treasures like the White River National Forest, Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Colorado National Monument, El Dorado State Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Nationally, more than 42,000 parks and projects have benefited from LWCF.

Somehow, this has all been achieved even though the program has only ever been fully funded twice in its 54 years of service. While the amount LWCF receives is capped at $900 million a year and it doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny (it’s funded through offshore oil and gas drilling royalties), Congress is responsible for allocating the funds each year. Consequently, it’s becomes easy for funds to be siphoned off to other causes.

Earlier this year, Congress voted to permanently reauthorize LWCF to avoid the program from being held hostage by politics. It’s now time that Congress does the same for its funding. This is why we need our senators and representatives to continue their support for LWCF and make sure it’s permanently funded.

Our public lands are a tremendous asset to Colorado. They are critical to our economy, recreational enjoyment, way of life and happiness. LWCF is an essential tool to making sure these public lands are protected for future generations.

Erica Hernandez is a microbiologist, a climbing-gym instructor, an entrepreneur, an outdoor volunteer and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants.

New Models Point to More #GlobalWarming Than We Expected — Weather Underground #ActOnClimate

Marine stratocumulus clouds from the Pacific Ocean stream atop Chile’s Atacama Desert. Marine stratocumulus cover vast swaths of the tropical and subtropical oceans, where they reflect large amounts of sunlight and provide an overall cooling effect on climate. New global climate models are showing the potential for more global warming than long thought, perhaps due to a reduction in low-level clouds such as marine stratocumulus. Image credit: NCAR/UCAR Image and Multimedia Gallery.

From Weather Underground (Bob Henson):

Our planet’s climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas than we realized, according to a new generation of global climate models being used for the next major assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings—which run counter to a 40-year consensus—are a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected.

One of the new models, the second version of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), saw a 35% increase in its equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the rise in global temperature one might expect as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead of the model’s previous ECS of 4°C (7.2°F), the CESM2 now shows an ECS of 5.3°C (9.5°F).

“It is imperative that the community work in a multi-model context to understand how plausible such a high ECS is,” said NCAR’s Andrew Gettelman and coauthors in a paper published last month in Geophysical Research Letters. They added: “What scares us is not that the CESM2 ECS is wrong…but that it might be right.”

At least eight of the global-scale models used by IPCC are showing upward trends in climate sensitivity, according to climate researcher Joëlle Gergis, an IPCC lead author and a scientific advisor to Australia’s Climate Council. Gergis wrote about the disconcerting trends in an August column for the Australian website The Monthly.

Researchers are now evaluating the models to see whether the higher ECS values are model artifacts or correctly depict a more dire prognosis.

“The model runs aren’t all available yet, but when many of the most advanced models in the world are independently reproducing the same disturbing results, it’s hard not to worry,” said Gergis.