Reconnecting & Strengthening Ancestral Connections along the San Juan River — From The Earth Studio

This past summer I was part of a crew that conducted conservation work at the site of River House, located along the San Juan River. In this link –> HERE, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Utah Division, presents a blog post and short video of the work conducted. I have much appreciation for […]

Reconnecting & Strengthening Ancestral Connections along the San Juan River — From The Earth Studio

Crowds flock to Wyo public lands during COVID summer — Katie Klingsporn

Visitors fill campsites, reservations fill up and public land managers confront new challenges.

Crowds flock to Wyo public lands during COVID summer — Katie Klingsporn

The butterflies are back! Annual migration of monarchs shows highest numbers in years — #National Public Radio

Monarch butterfly on milkweed in Mrs. Gulch’s landscape July 17, 2021.

From National Public Radio (Michael Levitt and Christopher Intagliata):

Every year, monarch butterflies from all over the western U.S. migrate to coastal California, to escape the harsh winter weather. In the 1980s and ’90s, more than a million made the trip each year.

Those numbers have plummeted by more than 99% in recent years.

“The last few years we’ve had less than 30,000 butterflies,” biologist Emma Pelton said. “Last year, we actually dropped below 2,000 butterflies. So really an order of magnitude change in a short time period.”

Pelton works with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and says pesticides and habitat loss play a role in that decline.

But this year, the numbers are starting to pick up. Biologists and volunteers across California have already counted more than 100,000 monarchs.

Richard Rachman is the coordinator for the Xerces Society’s annual Thanksgiving monarch count in Los Angeles County, and has been buoyed by the numbers.

EPA Invites 39 New Projects to Apply for #Water Infrastructure Loans

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

Here’s the release from the EPA:

[December 3, 2021], the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that 39 new projects are being invited to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans and four projects are being added to a waitlist. The agency anticipates that, as funds become available, $6.7 billion in WIFIA loans will help finance over $15 billion in water infrastructure projects to protect public health and water quality across 24 states.

“Far too many communities still face significant water challenges, making these transformative investments in water infrastructure so crucial,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The WIFIA invited projects will deliver major benefits like the creation of good-paying jobs and the safeguarding of public health, especially in underserved and under-resourced communities. This program is a shining example of the public health and economic opportunities that will be achieved under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

EPA’s WIFIA program will provide selected borrowers with innovative financing tools to address pressing public health and environmental challenges in their communities. Consistent with its announced priorities, the WIFIA program is making $1.2 billion in loans available to support infrastructure needs in historically underserved communities. Additionally, 14 projects will help protect infrastructure from the impacts of extreme weather events and the climate crisis. New and innovative approaches, including cybersecurity, green infrastructure, and water reuse, are included in 24 projects.

By diversifying its geographic reach and the types of selected borrowers, the WIFIA program will also expand the types of projects it supports. For the first time, entities in Connecticut, Delaware, and Hawaii are invited to apply. Three small communities, with populations of 25,000 or less, are selected for WIFIA loans totaling nearly $62 million. In addition, seven projects submitted by private borrowers and public-private partnerships totaling over $1.5 billion in WIFIA financing are included.

EPA is also inviting state agencies in Indiana and New Jersey to apply for a total of $472 million in WIFIA loans through EPA’s state infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. EPA’s SWIFIA loans are available exclusively to state infrastructure financing authority borrowers, commonly known as State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs, and will allow these programs to finance more infrastructure projects in their states. These programs will combine state resources, annual capitalization grants, and the low-cost, flexible SWIFIA loans to accelerate investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to modernize aging systems and tackle new contaminants.

WIFIA Invited Projects:

  • Baltimore City Department of Public Works (Md.): $36 million for the Water Infrastructure Advancement 2021 project.
  • Charlotte Water (N.C.): $169 million for the Mallard Creek Sewer Basin Wastewater Collection and Treatment Improvements Program.
  • City of Ashland (Ore.): $36 million for a 7.0 Million Gallons per Day Water Treatment Plant.
  • City of Bellingham (Wash.): $136 million for the Post Point Resource Recovery Plant Biosolids Project.
  • City of Boise (Idaho): $272 million for Water Renewal Services Capital Investments Projects.
  • City of Chattanooga (Tenn.): $186 million for Wastewater Compliance and Sustainability Projects.
  • City of Cortland (N.Y.): $12 million for the Homer Avenue Gateway Project.
  • City of Memphis (Tenn.): $44 million for Stormwater Upgrades.
  • City of Oregon City (Ore.): $12 million for Water Rehabilitation, Resiliency and Improvement Projects.
  • City of Philadelphia (Pa.): $260 million for the Water Department 2021 project.
  • City of Port Washington (Wis.): $12 million for the Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project.
  • City of Santa Cruz (Calif.): $164 million for the Santa Cruz Water Program.
  • Westminster

  • City of Westminster (Colo.): $130 million for the Water2025 project.
  • City of Wichita (Kan.): $181 million for the Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Biological Nutrient Removal Improvements Project.
  • County of Hawaii (Hawaii): $24 million for Hawaii Wastewater Treatment Upgrades.
  • EPCOR Foothills Water Project Inc. (Ore.): $76 million for the Lake Oswego Wastewater Treatment Replacement Project.
  • Fishers Island Water Works Corporation (N.Y.): $14 million for Water System Improvements.
  • Gainesville Regional Utilities (Fla.): $14 million for the Sanitary Sewer Replacement and Improvement Project.
  • Helix Water District (Calif.): $16 million for the Drinking Water Reliability Project.
  • King County (Wash.): $287 million Master Agreement.
  • Marin Municipal Water District (Calif.): $11 million for Marin Water.
  • Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) (Mo.): $278 million for MSD Project Clear – Deer Creek Watershed / Lemay Service Area System Improvements.
  • Metro Water Services (Tenn.): $186 million for the Process Advancements at Omohundro and K.R. Harrington Water Treatment Plants Project.
  • Narragansett Bay Commission (R.I.): $28 million for Field’s Point Resiliency Improvements.
  • New Castle County (Del.): $32 million for the Christina River Force Main Rehabilitation Project.
  • Ridgway via

  • Project 7 Water Authority (Colo.): $39 million for the Ridgway Water Treatment Plant.
  • Rialto Water Service LLC (Calif.): $68 million for Microgrid and System Improvements.
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (Calif.): $618 million for Wastewater Capital Plan Resilience Projects.
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (Calif.): $575 million for the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project.
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (Calif.): $80 million for the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.
  • Santa Margarita Water District (Calif.): $22 million for Recycled Water Conversion.
  • Sharyland Water Supply Corporation (Texas): $14 million for Sharyland Water Supply Corporation Water System Infrastructure Improvements.
  • South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (Conn.): $20 million for Lake Whitney Dam and Spillway Improvements.
  • Tualatin Valley Water District (Ore.): $16 million for the Water System Upgrades Program.
  • United Water Conservation District (Calif.): $52 million for the Santa Felicia Safety Improvement Project.
  • Upper Santa Ana River Watershed Infrastructure Financing Authority (Calif.): $177 million for the Watershed Connect project.
  • Village of New Lenox (Ill.): $70 million for Phase 1 Improvements projects.
  • Waitlist Projects:

  • American Infrastructure Holdings (S.D.): $20 million for the Sioux City Biosolids to Fertilizer Project.
  • Lake Restoration Solutions, LLC (Utah): $893 million for the Utah Lake Restoration Project.
  • U.S. Highway 287 runs through the future site of Glade Reservoir. The Larimer county Board of County Commissioners approved the 1041 Land Use Permit for NISP in September, 2020. Photo credit: Northern Water

  • Northern Water (Colo.): $464 million for the Northern Integrated Supply Project – Glade Reservoir Complex.
  • Southland Water Agency (Ill.): $479 million for the Southland Water Agency Infrastructure System.
  • Background on WIFIA

    Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s goal is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.

    The final phase of restoration in #GlenwoodCanyon turns to debris-choked #ColoradoRiver: CDOT is orchestrating the removal of hundreds of thousands of tons of debris flushed down the walls of Glenwood Canyon in July deluge — The #Colorado Sun #COriver #aridification

    Glenwood Canyon and the Colorado River. Photo credit: CDOT via Roads & Bridges

    From The Colorado Sun (Jason Blevins):

    In a week or so, CDOT will announce it has completed repairs of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. Crews have finished rebuilding the roadway, thanks to a unified push by a host of federal and state agencies.

    The impacts of the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire that burned more than 32,000 acres in the canyon remain acute, with the scar still likely to shed rocks, timber and mud during next spring’s melt. More than 4 inches of rain on July 29 — following several days of rainstorms — shed rocks, mud and trees from atop the canyon. Six massive debris piles span a 3-mile stretch of highway and river in Glenwood Canyon. Early attempts to measure the muddy mess set it at more than 100,000 cubic yards. If it was just dry sand, that would be about 150,000 tons. CDOT estimates it has already removed about 44,000 tons of debris off the highway and recreation path.

    The worst-ever debris-flow damage to the vital interstate corridor has been repaired in a little more than four months. It would probably be easier to list the federal and state agencies that were not involved in the restoration work, but CDOT led an effort with input from the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Forest Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and just about every nearby community and Colorado River water guardians…

    With teams working on the debris-choked Hanging Lake Trail as well as seeding the burn zone to hasten growth that can prevent devastating runoff, the final stage in the restoration of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon begins now, with plans to clear plumes of rocks and mud blocking the Colorado River in the canyon. Crews soon will position heavy machinery in the river bed as part of a complicated plan to clear six river-jamming piles.

    CDOT officials flew over the canyon this summer and mapped the river and the new debris fields using laser technology. Then a hydrology consultant created models for various runoff scenarios, looking at how the jumbles of rocks in the river might disrupt flows when the dam at Hanging Lake spills and the narrow canyon sees the river swell to 5,000, 10,000 and even 15,000 cubic feet per second next spring.

    “Based on those models, we are showing the potential for catastrophic damage to eastbound 70 if the river is left in its current configuration,” Knapp said. “That is the main driver for the removal of that debris.”


    CDOT will start digging soon, chipping away at the piles until trucks have hauled away at least 60% and up to 90% of the debris choking the river and bike path in the canyon. That’s good news for downstream water users, anglers and rafters. But CDOT isn’t spending federal dollars to keep trout biting and rafts floating. It’s all about protecting the highway to the north and the railroad to the south of the river…

    Six debris piles threatening I-70

    CDOT plans to remove six debris piles by the end of April next year, before the spring runoff swells the Colorado River. Its emergency road repair contractor, Lawrence Construction Co., is on board to work the two piles that flowed from the north. The Lawrence group also plans to clear the recreation path along the river, but the priority is to clear the river before the end of April 2022.

    Looking up at the source of the debris flow in Glenwood Canyon August 2021. Photo credit: CDOT

    The debris pile that poured down Blue Gulch on the north side of the highway and damaged both the westbound and eastbound lanes did the most damage to the highway and buried the largest portion of the river. That pile erased a Class IV rapid known as Barrel Springs. One mile upstream, debris from from the north side’s Wagon Gulch went beneath the westbound lanes but buried the low-lying eastbound pavement. That’s the debris pile that could most easily force the river onto the highway, Knapp said…

    Those two piles — below the Blue and Wagon gulches — are more logistically straight forward, with Lawrence Construction crews able to access them both from a single closed lane on the eastbound highway. And they are in the stretch of river between the Shoshone Dam at the Hanging Lake rest area and the Shoshone Generating Station, which is regularly dewatered in the winter months as Xcel Energy diverts the Colorado River into a tunnel that feeds the hydroelectric power plant.

    The piles that came from the south, over and under the railroad, are more challenging for removal crews. CDOT will soon begin seeking contractors who can work with the Union Pacific railroad to access two of those piles above the Shoshone power plant, which are below Devil’s Hole Canyon and an unnamed gulch that CDOT has dubbed Unnamed…

    Later this winter, the transportation department will hire contractors to help remove the two piles downstream of the power plant, which are below Deadman Gulch and above the Maneater rapid. (Those last two will be trickier, because the river is flowing there and crews will likely be unable to access the highway to remove debris.)

    CDOT has a unique plan for the Devil’s Hole and Unnamed piles. The rocks and mud that flowed down Devil’s Hole Canyon funneled beneath the railroad tracks and slammed into the eastbound highway retaining wall, completely blocking the river. CDOT hopes a contractor can work with the railroad to deliver equipment to the debris piles but then build a temporary debris bridge across the river so earthmovers can load trucks on the highway. The plan for a debris bridge is the same for the Unnamed pile. That way no debris would be removed via the railroad.

    But downstream, in the heavily rafted Shoshone stretch of the Colorado River, the two piles at Deadman and Maneater will require more coordination with Union Pacific. The railroad has given CDOT a four-hour midday window between its passing trains to load and remove train cars with debris. CDOT’s yet-to-be-issued request for contractors is hoping to find a company that can speedily fill train cars while working on the edge of the moving Colorado River…

    The Forest Service and CDOT, recognizing the critical role rafting plays in the local economy, opened early access to the river for several owners of rafting companies.

    It was quite a scene, said Ken Murphy, the owner of the Glenwood Adventure Company. Nine or so competitors, working together in the middle of rapids with ropes, chainsaws and winches to clear dense walls of timber clogging the rapids above Glenwood Springs.

    “We just had to get it open,” Murphy said, “and get our businesses back up and running. The river is an important economic driver for our community. There is huge support to get that cleaned up and ready.”

    After two days of sawing and yanking, they cleared a path for rafts. Then the owners brought in their guides, who had to learn how to navigate a completely different river. The jagged piles of rock at Deadman and Maneater have changed how rafts and kayaks descend the rapids.

    That’s not necessarily new. After exceptionally snowy seasons in Colorado, Shoshone stretch can see flows reach 15,000 or even 18,000 cubic-feet-per-second in the spring. (For comparison, the stretch typically runs around 1,200 cfs.)

    Those rowdy runoff flows shift rocks and reorient rapids. Murphy said commercial and private whitewater paddlers are closely watching how the debris removal might change rapids…

    CDOT’s Knapp is a kayaker. He lived in Glenwood Springs. He’s confident that removing debris from the side of the river channel will not alter the rapids. When the project is wrapped, he expects the river to look and paddle a lot like it did before the summer rockfall. He knows he’s not spending millions in taxpayer dollars so whitewater paddlers can still enjoy the river. But recreation is an important consideration and one of the resources the Forest Service wants to protect in Glenwood Canyon.