Theodore Roosevelt around 1904. By Pach Bros. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID ppmsca.35645. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71136734
Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point. By Underwood & Underwood – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g04698. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3517191
Of all Roosevelt’s achievements, he was proudest of his work in conservation of natural resources and extending federal protection to land and wildlife. Roosevelt worked closely with Interior Secretary James Rudolph Garfield and Chief of the United States Forest Service Gifford Pinchot to enact a series of conservation programs that often met with resistance from Western members of Congress, such as Charles William Fulton. Nonetheless, Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. He also established the first 51 bird reserves, four game preserves, and 150 National Forests. The area of the United States that he placed under public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres (930,000 km2).
Roosevelt extensively used executive orders on a number of occasions to protect forest and wildlife lands during his tenure as President. By the end of his second term in office, Roosevelt used executive orders to establish 150 million acres of reserved forestry land. Roosevelt was unapologetic about his extensive use of executive orders to protect the environment, despite the perception in Congress that he was encroaching on too many lands. Eventually, Senator Charles Fulton (R-OR) attached an amendment to an agricultural appropriations bill that effectively prevented the president from reserving any further land. Before signing that bill into law, Roosevelt used executive orders to establish an additional 21 forest reserves, waiting until the last minute to sign the bill into law. In total, Roosevelt used executive orders to establish 121 forest reserves in 31 states. Prior to Roosevelt, only one president had issued over 200 executive orders, Grover Cleveland. The first 25 presidents issued a total of 1,262 executive orders; Roosevelt issued 1,081.
A stretch of the South Platte River that has been hampered for years by construction, pollution and debris has been approved for a major face lift, thanks to a new agreement between the City of Denver and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 2.4-mile, $11 million project was approved by the agencies in mid-September. The idea is to offset damage to the river caused by Bear Creek Lake and Chatfield dams, as well as urbanization, according to Jennifer Williams, who leads the project for Denver Public Works.
The Southern Platte Valley Project will restore natural flows and habitat in a stretch from West Yale Ave. to West Mississippi Ave., Williams said.
Natural river flows support conditions that provide shelter for fish and breeding grounds for organisms that feed them. They also help keep the river cool. Plants along the banks help filter trash and sediments from runoff before it flows back into the South Platte.
But rivers that thread their way through cities battle for the room and the flows they need to remain healthy.
“We’ve just encroached on the river and made it less efficient as a hospitable place for animals,” Williams said.
The new rehab project comes as Denver voters and politicos have vowed to improve and expand the city’s natural areas. In 2018, voters said yes to a new sales tax that will raise an additional $46 million a year, part of which will be used to restore waterways in the city.
This project is especially exciting, Williams said, because it will stitch together other scattered restoration projects along the Denver reach of the South Platte.
“This will tie all the projects together and really leverage that previous investment we’ve made and turn it into a great corridor for birds and fish,” she said.
The project will restore 22 acres of aquatic habitat and 11 acres of riparian habitat, Williams said. The area is along the Central Flyway, and visited by more than 400 bird species every year, including 14 that are of special concern in the eyes of the federal government, which means they may receive special management considerations but not yet formal protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Perhaps just as importantly, the project could make residents proud and more willing to keep the river clean.
“Our goal is to get people living there connected to the river,” said John Davenport, a member of Trout Unlimited Denver, who keeps a close eye on the South Platte.
Studies show that perception, more than the economic welfare of an area and its residents, tends to determine whether a natural area stays clean: Once people recognize it as a special place, they try to keep it that way, he said.
The project will take roughly three years to complete, Williams said, and she is cautiously optimistic that there will be enough money to begin the design this year, with hopes of starting construction in 2021.
Davenport is satisfied with the way the South Platte looks now, but he believes it has room for improvement.
“We have a river that could really be something,” he said.
Dan England is a freelance writer who lives in Greeley and the media adviser for Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:
Summer Tour of the Upper Arkansas Basin
Otero Pump Station:
In the 1960’s Aurora Water partnered with Colorado Springs Utilities on the Homestake Water Project. The project collects water into Homestake Reservoir, pipes it to Turquoise Lake, and then pipes it down to Twin Lakes Reservoir, and eventually pipes the water through the Otero Pump Station. The water is pumped to the front range through the Homestake Pipeline to Spinney Reservoir for use by Aurora Water and to Rampart Reservoir for use by Colorado Springs. Tour attendees had the opportunity to tour the Otero Pump station, which pumps 114 MGD through eight pumps at 2,250 horsepower (HP), one pump at 900 HP and one at 450 HP. The project is an impressive engineering feat.
Arkansas River Diversion Project:
The next stop on the tour was the Arkansas River Diversion Project, which is a replacement of the diversion from the Arkansas River to the Otero Pump Station. Tour attendees got a first look at the diversion in mid-construction. The re-design of this diversion involved experts in recreational hydraulics, river intakes structures, fishery biology, and experience with the Arkansas River. The design included 1-D and 2-D modelling, and a 1/12th scale prototype 3D model was built to test the functionality of the design. Furthermore, the project received funding from multiple agencies including the CWCB and CPW to cover the added incremental cost of the components for recreation and fisheries. The project is anticipated to finish in 2020, and it will have three channels comprised of a fish ladder, spillway and recreational boat chute. This multi-agency project will not only improve the functionality of the diversion structure for water supply, but it will also open the upper river to new recreation opportunities and provides fish passage.
Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project:
The Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project has successfully performed the first fen transplant. The project has many partners, including several local municipalities, state agencies, federal agencies, and the Colorado Mountain College. Fens are a unique type of wetland that are found at high elevations. Fens have three unique characteristics: they have at least 16 inches of organic soil, they have plants that have adapted to nutrient rich water sources and saturation, and have a nutrient rich groundwater supply. Organic soils can take thousands of years to form, making it impossible to create from scratch on human time-scales. The Fish and Wildlife Service has classified fens as Category I Resources and has determined that fens are unmitigable. As a result of this policy, projects may be deemed infeasible if fens are located in potential areas of disturbance, such as on lands for proposed reservoirs or recreation facilities. The purpose of the research project was to demonstrate one possible method that could replicate the form and function of a naturally occurring fen. The project design was to transplant relic soil and vegetation to a spot that previously had hosted a fen, but was harvested for peat back in the early 1940s. We got to see first-hand how well the transplanted fen is taking to its new home. It looks beautiful and full of life. We even got to feel how squishy the soil is! Brad Johnson, the project’s professional wetland scientist, shared the results of his vegetation survey with us and everything seems to be working better than expected. The project is currently in monitoring, which will continue for several more years. The federal agencies and other partners have visited the site several times since construction and continue to be involved.
US Fish and Wildlife Fish Hatchery:
Our bus pulled up to the stately historical building, something you might expect to see as a proud town hall or hotel building. Inside, however, it is full of row after row of fish tanks! The USFWS has operated the Leadville Fish Hatchery since 1889. They raise sport fish, endangered fish, and Laramie Toads. And since we are a water-focused group, our tour included a sneak peak into the water treatment facility specifically designed to kill the whirling disease. The double filtration system, combined with UV lights, has kept the facility disease free. It is impressive to learn about how the genetic variations of the fish are considered before breeding, how the eggs are collected, and how much effort goes into the keeping everything flowing smoothly. They are open to the public and it is worth the drive to check it out yourself!
From email from the Arkansas River Compact Administration (Kevin Salter):
This is the preliminary notice for the upcoming Arkansas River Compact Administration Annual and Committee Meetings. The meeting specifics and draft agendas will be provided at a later date. Please note that the meeting dates and location were changed at the ARCA Annual Meeting held in December 2018.
These meetings will be held in La Junta, Colorado, at the Otero Junior College.
The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Arkansas River Compact Administration (ARCA) will be held on Thursday, December 5, 2019.
The Engineering, Operations, and Administrative/Legal Committees of ARCA will meet on Wednesday, December 4, 2019.
Meetings of ARCA are operated in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. If you need a special accommodation as a result of a disability please contact Stephanie Gonzales at (719) 688-0799 at least three days before the meeting.
This information will be updated on ARCA’s website:
Governor Mark Gordon announced today he has appointed Greg Lanning Wyoming State Engineer. Lanning takes over for Pat Tyrrell, who retired in January after serving as State Engineer for 18 years.
The State Engineer is a position established by the Wyoming Constitution and has a term of six years. The State Engineer serves as the chief water official in the state and is responsible for the general supervision of Wyoming’s waters, including technical, policy and regulatory matters concerning its beneficial use. The search process involved numerous stakeholders including experienced water industry professionals and representatives of rural water users; agriculture; the mining, oil and gas industries; and environmental organizations.
“Finding the right State Engineer was a challenging process, as the position requires a unique set of technical, policy and political skills,” Governor Gordon said. “Greg’s background expertly balances these requirements and I can think of no one better to hit the ground running to lead the way in managing Wyoming’s water. I look forward to welcoming Greg back to his home state of Wyoming.”
A Casper, Wyoming native, Lanning previously served as Deputy State Engineer under Tyrrell from 2012 to 2014. His broad background in civil engineering and water resource management includes time spent as Public Works Director for communities both in Wyoming as well as neighboring states. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and his Masters in Business Administration degrees at the University of Wyoming. He holds a Masters in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and is a registered Professional Engineer.
“It is an honor to once again serve this great state,” Lanning said. “I look forward to re-introducing myself to our Wyoming water users and stakeholders and returning to our dedicated team of more than 120 employees at the State Engineer’s Office.”
Following a presentation earlier in the day, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) Board of Directors opted to see if ef- forts from cloud seeding could produce any re- sults that could be seen locally before providing funding to cloud seeding efforts.
The cloud seeding presentation was given to the board during a work session on Tuesday by Eric and Mike Hjermstad from Western Weather Consultants LLC, and following the work ses- sion, the board had a possible action item on whether or not to fund cloud seeding efforts for the southwest basin.
In the draft budget, the SJWCD has $1,000 set aside for potential cloud seeding funding…
The effectiveness and amount of extra moisture that is produced by cloud seeding ef- forts has been debated for years, SJWCD board member Al Pfister noted…
[Bill] Hudson later made a motion that suggested the SJWCD look into whether or not it could help finance the research of cloud seeding operations in the district’s watershed and would task SJWCD consultant Renee Lewis to conduct this project. The motion passed unanimously.
From the Environmental Defense Fund (Pablo Garza/Ronna Kelly):
The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, but it’s hard to grasp its immense size – and beauty – until you see it with you own eyes. Last week, roughly 200 people gathered in this unique area – both residents and leaders from around the Salton Sea and from outside the region – for the Salton Sea Summit, a conference that explored the many challenges and solutions facing the Salton Sea region.
The summit was important because, as California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot noted during his keynote on the first day, the Salton Sea has “major problems.”
Chief among these: The Salton Sea is receding.
The shrinking of the Salton Sea is a longer-term trend that was exacerbated by the largest rural-urban water transfer in the U.S., finalized in 2003. Under the transfer, the Imperial Irrigation District agreed to send up to 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water per year to Los Angeles and San Diego. Since 2003, the Sea has receded more rapidly, exposing some 40 acres of new shoreline and toxic dust. This dust, in turn, is contributing to already poor air quality and high rates of respiratory illnesses in the region.
As part of the transfer agreement, the state committed to thousands of acres of dust suppression and habitat restoration projects, and state lawmakers and voters have approved $365 million in funding for such projects. But action has long been stalled, and local residents and leaders are fed up.
This frustration was evident at the summit and reached a boiling point on Tuesday when the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to declare a local emergency for air pollution at the Salton Sea. The vote came just days after state leaders stressed efforts to jump-start long-delayed projects at the summit.
From popular destination to ecological tragedy
It is easy to understand why residents are frustrated and want to see more action to restore and protect this sometimes otherworldly place. As Crowfoot noted, the Salton Sea is like putting Lake Tahoe in the desert with dramatic mountains as the backdrop.
The Sea is also a critical stopping point along the Pacific Flyway for nearly 400 bird species. And, not that long ago, it was a popular recreation spot for residents and tourists alike.
More recently the Sea has made news headlines for massive bird die-offs as it shrinks and salinity increases.
The state needs to step up quickly to make up for lost time. The Newsom administration has gotten off to a good start, but much more is required. Still, there are some signs of hope.
Will promises finally be fulfilled?
Crowfoot noted that he has visited the Salton Sea “four or five times” since becoming secretary in January. “Our focus now is not making more promises but getting projects done on the ground,” he said. “I’m really optimistic.”
He highlighted the upcoming milestones:
By year-end, ground will be breaking on a 200-acre dust suppression pilot project that Crowfoot said would “catalyze treating many more acres for dust suppression.” (The state’s 10-year plan calls for 15,000 acres of dust suppression projects completed by 2028.)
By year-end, a community meeting will be held for input on the 9,000 acres of dust suppression projects.
By early 2020, permits will be acquired for the 9,000 acres of dust suppression projects.
By summer 2020, ground will be broken on a nearly 3,800-acre, design-build habitat restoration project.
The upcoming community meeting is a positive development and signal the state is responding to criticism that it has inadequately engaged and informed residents about Salton Sea plans. The state will also create a new Salton Sea website and email newsletter to update residents.
However, these efforts may not be enough, as other engagement challenges remain for communicating with residents around the Sea, including disadvantaged communities.
During a community engagement forum at the summit, panelists noted that many residents don’t have Internet access or computers, or know how to use a computer. “The digital divide is very real,” said Karen Borja, a former community organizer and now director of community affairs at Planned Parenthood in Riverside County. “That website will not be accessible to everyone.”
The Newsom administration would be wise to follow advice offered at the summit. Panelists suggested hiring a community organizer, holding meetings after 5 p.m. in Spanish and English, and providing child care and food.
Significant challenges remain for the Salton Sea region, but the Newsom administration appears to be listening and acting. Hopefully, by the next Salton Sea Summit, stakeholders and panelists will be discussing their successes and offering lessons learned.
Read or download “Salton Sea Vision 2025,” a vision for the Salton Sea created by EDF and partners Alianza, Audubon California, KDI, Pacific Institute and the Sierra Club.