Wray: #RepublicanRiver Water Conservation District to Hold Regular Quarterly Board Meeting, November 19, 2019

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From the Republican River Water Conservation District via The Julesberg Advocate:

The Board of Directors of the Republican River Water Conservation District will be holding its regular quarterly meeting in Wray, Colorado. The date, time, and location of the meeting and a summary of the agenda for the meeting are provided below.

Regular Meeting of the RRWCD Board
Date: Tuesday November 19, 2019
Time: 10:00AM to 4:30PM


  • Consider and potentially approve minutes of previous meetings; Board President’s report, General Manager’s report and consider and potentially approve quarterly financial report and expenditures.
  • Report from the Compact Compliance Pipeline operator.
  • Hearing of the Board, 2020 Budget Hearing and Water Use Fee Policy Hearing.
  • Receive report from chairmen of all RRWCD committees and associated organizations.
  • Receive report from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
  • Receive program updates and reports from the RRWCD’s engineer, federal and state lobbyists and legal counsel, Report by State Engineer’s Office, presentation by Alexander Funk to report on new funding programs available through CWCB.
  • Discuss and vote on Resolutions, discuss and vote on incentive payments to well owners in the South Fork Focus Zone who permanently retire their irrigation water right through the CREP program.
  • Receive and vote on support for soil moisture probe grant request from Yuma County Conservation District
  • The Yampa/White Basin Roundtable is developing a #YampaRiver integrated water management plan #COWaterPlan

    Serene corner on the Yampa River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

    From the Yampa/White Basin Roundtable (Gena Hinkemeyer) via The Craig Daily Press:

    The Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable is one of nine basin roundtables in Colorado established to address the ever-increasing water challenges facing our state.

    As part of its mission and to meet the Colorado Water Plan, the roundtable is developing an Integrated Water Management Plan for the Yampa River Basin that best represents the interests and needs of all water users. These interests include agricultural, recreational, environmental, municipal, industrial and water providers. The first phase of the Management Plan focuses on the Yampa River main stem and the Elk River basin.

    In order to make the Management Plan a success, the roundtable seeks to provide the community with meaningful opportunities to participate and provide valuable input for the Management Plan. To do this, two subcommittees where formed — stakeholder and technical — to complete related tasks.

    The stakeholder subcommittee is working to implement a community outreach program designed to listen and learn in an open communication process. This subcommittee will provide a forum for dialogue on water related issues for all water users, including agriculture, recreational, municipal and environmental aspects of a healthy river.

    The technical subcommittee was formed to look at the science-based river health for each of the identified geographic segments. One of the many related tasks is working with a private engineering contractor to conduct 40 to 50 voluntary water diversion assessments within the Yampa River Basin.

    The goal is to learn more about the diversion effectiveness and incorporated environment aspects at the diversion site. Ultimately, this may help identify water projects that have positive impacts for the water diversion and broader river health.

    The Management Plan recognizes the importance of agriculture to the Yampa River Basin. One of the roundtable priorities is to protect and maintain agricultural water rights in the region in consideration of increasing water demands and water availability fluctuations. Another goal is to help identify potential funding for water infrastructures that have multiple benefits and are in need of improvement for interested and volunteering agricultural stakeholders.

    Two segment coordinators, Gena Hinkemeyer and Jerry Albers, are working as contractors on this project to listen, learn and seek input from agricultural stakeholders. Hinkemeyer has lived in the Yampa Valley for most of her life and will be working in the lower and middle Yampa River regions. Albers has lived in Stagecoach for the last 15 years and will be working in the Upper Yampa and the Elk River Basin.

    The coordinators will be reaching out to members of the agricultural community to better understand water related issues confronting agriculture and seek input on planning efforts. If you are interested and would like to learn more visit the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable site at yampawhitegreen.com or contact Gena Hinkemeyer gena@yampawhitegreen.com.

    BLM halts leases after sage grouse, climate legal brawls #KeepItInTheGround #ActOnClimate

    From E&E News (Niina H. Farah):

    Federal officials have withdrawn thousands of acres of land slated for sale to the oil and gas industry after courts demanded that the government take a closer look at greater sage grouse habitat protections and climate change impacts.

    Conservation groups opposing the Bureau of Land Management’s actions say a recent slate of deferred lease sales in Colorado, Nevada and Utah illustrate the problems with the Trump administration’s aggressive push to encourage energy development on public lands…

    “The broader pattern we’ve seen from this administration has been a headlong rush to get as much remaining sage grouse habitat under lease as possible,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s public lands program.

    He said the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” approach has led BLM to violate federal laws like the National Environmental Policy Act.

    “That needs to stop,” Saul said. “They are not simply a real estate sales agency. Under congressional statute, they have multiple obligations, which include duties to conserve wildlife habitat.”

    BLM yesterday added to its growing list of delayed leases when it deferred its Dec. 19 Colorado sale in response to a federal court order temporarily blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s greater sage grouse plan.

    Judge B. Lynn Winmill, a Clinton appointee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, required BLM to revert to evaluating leases under sage grouse plans the Obama administration finalized in 2015…

    The six parcels covered 4,259 acres and were subject to sage grouse habitat restrictions.

    Conservation groups lauded the move, while urging BLM to take more permanent action to stop lease sales on the birds’ habitat. Other state offices could defer or cancel leases as more sales approach next month…

    The BLM office was responding to a lawsuit filed in September by the Center for Biological Diversity, Living Rivers and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which raised claims that the agency had not adequately considered the impacts of climate change from leases in the central and northeast portions of the Beehive State.

    The lawsuit encompassed eight different parcels finalized between 2014 and 2018. The leases fit into a pattern of BLM failing to adequately consider climate impacts, said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Altogether, Utah has had over 300,000 acres of leases suspended in response to similar litigation…

    In addition to challenges over sage grouse protections and climate change, Dascalu-Joffe said concerns about analysis of cumulative water withdrawal impacts could also become an area of legal vulnerability for BLM.

    She noted that while the preliminary injunction forced BLM to look at sage grouse impacts in a more programmatic way, the same was not true for assessing climate impacts.

    “I don’t have a lot of confidence that this is going to drive any programmatic analysis of climate impacts from the entire oil and gas program because that’s not how this agency works right now,” Dascalu-Joffe said.

    @SenatorBennet, @SenatorRomney Request Review of #USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program

    Waldo Canyon Fire. Photo credit The Pueblo chieftain.

    Here’s the release from Senator Bennet’s office:

    Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP).

    The EWP is an important tool for post-fire recovery in the West. Recently, Colorado and Utah received EWP funding following fires in 2018 that damaged watersheds and led to unprecedented evacuations. However, communities often face hurdles and added burden when attempting to use EWP to support recovery efforts. A GAO review would help improve EWP to more effectively serve communities across the West as they recover from devastating wildfires.

    “While communities can implement a number of steps to reduce damage and mitigate risk following wildfires, these measures place undue financial strain on property owners and state and local governments,” wrote the senators in their letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. “Over the past few years in Colorado and Utah, post-fire flooding and erosion has caused millions of dollars in damage and required significant investments from state and local partners.”

    The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the EWP to reduce financial strain and help communities address imminent threats following a wildfire. Despite the valuable assistance these funds have provided, concerns remain with the implementation of EWP, including its eligibility requirements and approval processes.

    “While the funding has helped some of these communities recover, there is concern with how NRCS approves and completes projects, and other hurdles that communities face in the process of receiving EWP funds,” wrote the senators. “Therefore, we request the GAO conduct a review of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, specifically its implementation and effectiveness in helping communities in the aftermath of damaging wildfires.”

    Bennet and Romney requested that the GAO focus on a number of specific items, including:

  • Approval processes under the program, including eligibility requirements that may limit entities such as water districts and ditch companies from qualifying for the program;
  • Exigent project timelines and challenges, including opportunities to improve exigent projects in rural areas;
  • Opportunities to expand eligible projects, such as weather monitoring and alert systems to warn of post-fire floods;
  • Agency and stakeholder views on program improvements to better meet the goals and intent of EWP.
  • In his role as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, Bennet has led efforts to help Colorado and other Western states improve forest and watershed health and recover from wildfires. Bennet secured $19 million in EWP funding in 2013 to assist recovery from the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires, $57 million in EWP funds in 2015 for conservation work following the September 2013 floods, $10.2 million in EWP funds in 2016 to help restore watersheds in El Paso County, and $20.2 million in 2018 to help with wildfire recovery efforts in La Plata, Huerfano, Costilla, and Eagle counties.

    The full text of the letter is available HERE.