@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. Here’s the summary:

Summary: May 19, 2020

The majority of the Intermountain West (IMW) was dry for the week, with warmer than average conditions across much of the region. A couple of widespread thunderstorms did occur across the esatern plains of Colorado. For some areas, the benefit was limited and the moisture quickly dried out.

In the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack is melting quickly. In the southern portions, most of the snowpack is gone, and it’s possible that streams and rivers have already seen their seasonal peak flow. Northern high elevations are still holding onto some snow. For lower elevations, hot, dry, and windy conditions are dominant and fire danger has been high this week.

Extremely dry conditions are evident in precipitation deficits, high temperatures, high evaporative demand, vegetation stress, and dry soil moisture. The outlook shows that more relief may come for the eastern plains, but more warm and dry conditions are expected over the UCRB. Reservoirs are showing modest increases in levels right now, but for the southern reservoirs, it’s expected they will receive much less than average.

Learning about water while ‘safer at home’ — News on TAP

Denver Water’s Youth Education program has an online platform for students to learn about water in Colorado from their homes. The post Learning about water while ‘safer at home’ appeared first on News on TAP.

via Learning about water while ‘safer at home’ — News on TAP

#Water and Resource Monitoring Digital Workshop, June 11, 2020 — #Colorado Ag Water Alliance

Grants and Opportunities to Fund Infrastructure Projects Middle Colorado Watershed Ditch Inventory Protecting West Slope Water Users in Times of Uncertainty
Range Monitoring: Strategies for Making it Happen

Join us on Zoom! Save The Link!
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88971288008

RSVP and Learn More!

Graphic credit: Colorado Ag Water Alliance

#Runoff news: Rafting season ready to launch, but #COVID19 worries running high — @WaterEdCO #coronavirus

Rafters enjoy a day on the Gunnison River near Gunnison, Colo., on May 17, 2020. The Gunnison is flowing at about 80 percent of its normal volume for this time of year. Overall, Colorado’s snowpack is melting faster than usual. Along with lower river flows the presence of COVID-19 is creating challenges for commercial river running companies as well as private boaters. Credit: Dean Krakel/Special to Fresh Water News

From Water Education Colorado (Dean Krakel):

With warming temperatures in Colorado’s mountains and spring runoff in full swing, the whitewater boating season should be off to a roaring start.

But Colorado’s stringent COVID-19 travel and recreation restrictions are forcing commercial rafting companies to create social distance on unruly rivers and face the potential for smaller crowds.

“The snowpack’s in good shape,” said John Kreski, rafting coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Arkansas River Headwaters Area. “But the phones aren’t ringing. This is very frustrating.”

Colorado’s highest flows, as of mid-May, are in the northern part of the state, with the Poudre and North Platte at 100 to 120 percent of normal, according to Aldis Strautins, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

The upper Colorado, Gunnison, Green and lower Colorado rivers are all flowing at between 70 to 80 percent of normal, while the Arkansas River, from Buena Vista to the Royal Gorge, is flowing at 80 percent of normal.

Because of an unusually warm and dry April, flows are trending downward in the central and southern mountains.

The South Platte River and Clear Creek are running at 64 to 70 percent of normal, while the Rio Grande and San Juan River are just 45 percent of normal.

Northern Colorado rivers, such as the Poudre, will have enough snowmelt to extend flows for boating into late summer. Elsewhere in the state the best floating will occur from May into early July. “Get down into that 70 to 75 percent and you’re looking at a reduced season,” Strautins said. “There’s just not enough snow to extend it.”

Recreational vehicle: Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Hoping to maximize the early season flows, outfitters are anxiously waiting to see how many visitors will show, according to Bob Hamel, executive director of the Arkansas River Outfitters Association, a trade group.

“Who’s going to travel? Who’s got money? Will we even be traveling or flying to destinations?” he asked.

Still, Hamel is hopeful that the state’s waterways can be opened for commercial use by early June, bringing some much-needed economic activity to the state.

Colorado’s rafting industry is the No. 2 contributor to the state’s recreation economy, behind skiing. Centered on the Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas and Platte rivers, it contributed nearly $188 million to the state’s economy, according to a report of the Colorado River Outfitters Association. Visitors spent an average of $135 on a river adventure, including food, lodging, gas and souvenirs.

These numbers don’t include hundreds of homegrown rafters and kayakers who recreate on Colorado’s rivers or the large numbers of boaters from out of state that bring their own gear to the hallmark waterways.

How COVID-19 will impact the industry this summer isn’t clear yet, though major changes are underway.

“Every river floating company will have to adapt their own safety procedures to the kind of trips that they offer,” said Hamel. “A half-day trip down the Taylor River can’t be handled the same as a multi-day trip down the Gunnison Gorge. Some rafts are bigger. Some are smaller. The rafting industry can’t do a one size fits all.”

One set of COVID-19 rafting guidelines developed by Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers Resort in Almont, Colo., includes daily screening of employees, non-touch guest check-in, and hand sanitizer in all office and retail areas.

In addition, directional signs will guide visitors to wherever they need to go, with group size monitored by employees. The number of people on a raft will be reduced to maintain proper social distancing, with spaced seating and open windows on vans and shuttles, disinfection of equipment after each use, and instructions to clients to bring their own water bottles and food.

Andy Neinas, a river running veteran with Echo Canyon Outfitters in Cañon City, said the rafting industry is well-equipped to handle the COVID-19 restrictions.

“All of us are juggling things to make it all work. We’re going to being doing it differently, but nobody does it better than Colorado,” Neinas said.

Dean Krakel is a photographer and writer based in Almont, Colo. He can be reached at dkrakel@gmail.com.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Alex Zorn):

According to the National Weather Service, rising temperatures this week led to rising river levels.

In fact, in the past week, river flows at the Colorado/Utah border have climbed from just over 7,000 cubic feet per second to nearly 13,000 cfs, according to flow data from the United States Geological Survey.

NWS service hydrologist Aldis Strautins said warmer days and nights helped the snowpack melt in the beginning of the week, resulting in higher river flows.

“Most sites will stay below any flood concerns. A few areas in the northwest part of Colorado, including the Yampa Basin and some of the smaller rivers, may reach higher levels,” he said. “We’re monitoring it right now.”

Wednesday’s river flow data for the Colorado River at the Utah border had the river flowing at 12,900 cfs. The average for May 20 at that spot in the river is more than 15,100 cfs.

Catch a pike, save a pikeminnow — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Kenney Reservoir via Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce: http://www.rangelychamber.com/kenney-reservoir

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

The toothy, predacious fish hasn’t broken any laws on its own, but someone is thought to have done so by introducing the nonnative species into Kenney Reservoir on the White River.

It’s a fish that’s fun to catch and great to eat, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. But it also wreaks havoc on populations of rainbow trout and other species that make up the fishery at Kenney. Worse yet, northern pike pose a threat to endangered fish that are part of an intensive recovery program in the Upper Colorado River and its tributaries in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

That’s the back story behind why CPW and the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District are working with partners to offer anglers a $20 reward through Nov. 30 for every northern pike caught and removed from Kenney Reservoir, the White River and other waters from approximately Stedman Mesa to the Utah border…

A Colorado pikeminnow taken from the Colorado River near Grand Junction, and in the arms of Danielle Tremblay, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife employee. Pikeminnows have been tracked swimming upstream for great distances to spawn in the 15-mile stretch of river between Palisade and Grand Junction. An apex predator in the Colorado, pikeminnows used to be found up to six feet long and weighing 100 pounds. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smity/Aspen Journalism

Another concern is the threat pike pose to Colorado pikeminnow, one of four endangered fish that are the focus of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The largest adult population of the Colorado pikeminnow is on the lower White River, which is designated critical habitat for the fish upstream and downstream of Kenney Reservoir. The lower 18 miles of the White River in Utah is designated critical habitat for the endangered razorback sucker.

The reward for northern pike was first offered last year, and just 19 fish were turned in. Hampton said northern pike can be harder to catch, favoring deep, cool waters farther from shore. Organizers hope for more participation this year, to get anglers more involved in the efforts to eradicate the northern pike around Rangely.

Participants should bring their freshly caught northern pike to CPW’s office in Rangely from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. CPW staff will dispense reward money that comes from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and is sourced from the state Species Conservation Trust Fund generated by severance tax dollars.

Partners in the effort also are planning a weekend fishing derby and expo June 5-7. It includes a $250 prize for whoever brings in the most smallmouth bass, another nonnative predator. With COVID-19 social-distancing measures being heeded, there will be interactive learning opportunities, a display of an electrofishing boat and an aquarium display including endangered fish.

White River Basin. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69281367