Navajo Unit Coordination Meeting – January 18, 2022 #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

From email from Reclamation (Susan Novak Behery):

Link to Teams Meeting

Aspinall Unit Operations Meeting – January 20, 2022 #GunnisonRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Aspinall Unit

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

The next Aspinall Unit Operation Coordination Meeting will be conducted using Microsoft Teams (see link below). We are again using this format as an alternative to allow interactive participation, as we are not yet able to meet in person. No special software is required. Please contact me at rchristianson@usbr.gov or (970) 248-0652 if you have any questions. The proposed agenda is below:

Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)
+1 202-640-1187,,459511369# United States, Washington DC
Phone Conference ID: 459 511 369#

Interior Department Seeks Nominations for Committee to Replace Derogatory Names

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: Lori Martin, Colorado Parks and Wildlife via Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from the Department of Interior:

The Department of the Interior announced today that it is seeking nominations for members of the new Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names. The committee will identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names.

On November 19, 2021, Secretary Deb Haaland directed the National Park Service to form the committee as part of a broad effort to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features. Secretary Haaland also declared “squaw” to be a derogatory term and instructed the Board on Geographic Names – the federal body tasked with naming geographic places – to implement procedures to remove the term from federal usage.

“Too many of our nation’s lands and waters continue to perpetuate a legacy of oppression. This important advisory committee will be integral to our efforts to identify places with derogatory terms whose expiration dates are long overdue,” said Secretary Haaland. “I look forward to broad engagement from Tribes, civil rights scholars and academics, stakeholders, and the general public as we advance our goals of equity and inclusion.”

“The establishment of this committee is a momentous step in making our nation’s public lands and waters more welcoming and open to people of all backgrounds,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “These committee members, who will reflect the diversity of America, will serve their country in an important way.”

The Committee will consist of no more than 17 discretionary members to be appointed by the Secretary, including:

  • At least four members of an Indian Tribe;
  • At least one representative of a Tribal organization;
  • At least one representative of a Native Hawaiian organization;
  • At least four people with backgrounds in civil rights or race relations;
  • At least four people with expertise in anthropology, cultural studies, geography, or history; and
  • At least three members of the general public.
  • Nominations must include a resume providing an adequate description of the nominee’s qualifications, including information that would enable the Department to make an informed decision regarding meeting the membership requirements of the committee and contact information. More details on the committee and how to apply are available in the Federal Register.

    Nominations for the committee must be submitted to Joshua Winchell, Office of Policy, National Park Service, at joshua_winchell@nps.gov.

    Where’s the river?’ #RepublicanRiver basin’s disappearing water threatens Eastern Plains agriculture, ecology — KUNC

    The Republican River’s South Fork near Hale, Colorado, with the region’s seemingly endless fields. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jeffrey Beall

    From KUNC (Adam Rayes):

    If you look at a map of southeastern Yuma County, Colorado, you’ll find a bumpy blue line labeled “South Fork Republican River.” But, for the majority of the year, this channel contains little to no visible water flow.

    “So, the thing is, if we were to go upstream four or five miles, there’s flow,” Deb Daniel said while driving along a dusty road, adjacent to the riverbed in what used to be known as Bonny Lake State Park. She points to a stretch of riverbed covered with invasive Russian Olive trees. “There’s so much trees grown up in that area, and it’s so filled in with silt, that (the South Fork) completely disappears.”

    The Republican River basin sustained Daniel’s family’s farm when she was growing up. In 2017, the six Colorado counties relying most on this river’s basin brought almost $2 billion in agriculture sales — just under a third of the state’s total $7.5 billion production value.

    “There is such joy when I see water flowing,” Daniel said. For the last 20 years, she’s watched over the river as its conservation district manager. “And on the North Fork, it flows year-round.”

    The Republican River basin. The North Fork, South Fork and Arikaree all flow through Yuma County before crossing state lines. Credit: USBR/DOI

    That’s up in Northern Yuma county. These two forks (and the also-barely-flowing Arikaree River in central Yuma County) are tributaries that start in different parts of northeast Colorado and combine in Nebraska to feed the main body of the river…

    Water still flows for most of the Republican’s 453-mile stretch. But the North Fork is going down…

    ‘A losing battle’

    With North Fork flows decreasing and the South Fork and Arikaree barely running, the ecosystem suffers, Colorado risks major legal trouble with Kansas and Nebraska and people who farm these plains stand to lose their livelihoods.

    Center pivot sprinklers in the Arikaree River basin to irrigate corn. Each sprinkler is supplied by deep wells drilled into the High Plains (Ogallala) aquifer.

    The Republican River’s water levels drop partially because water in the ground surrounding it and beneath it is being used up, mostly to irrigate farms. And, in turn, part of the reason that groundwater isn’t as replenished is because of the river’s limited water.

    It’s a dynamic [Joyce] Kettelson has long been aware of, weighing the water longevity for the community against her family’s economic security…

    Severe drought conditions plagued portions of Yuma County for the majority of the last two years. Parts of the county have experienced moderate drought during almost half of the last two decades.

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe drought conditions often reduce river flows and harm farming operations. Yuma is the only county that all three main tributaries of the Republican River run through…

    Running out of options

    Most of the irrigation shuttering has to happen near the South Fork in Yuma and Kit Carson counties. Despite the river conservation district and federal government offering to pay farmers who participate, just a third of the 10,000-acre goal has been met as of Jan. 6, 2022.

    A booming market for irrigated crops, like corn and wheat, over the last two years made it hard to convince farmers to exchange those profits for the irrigation-shutoff payments.

    Last month, the river conservation district board voted to more than double yearly water use fees so that they could also significantly increase the amount they offer to farmers who stop irrigating around the South Fork. Several board members of the groundwater districts Midcap manages also sit on the river district board and helped make that decision.

    So now, someone farming 100 acres would have to pay $45,000 to irrigate for 15 years instead of the $21,750 they paid before the fee increase. If that farmer’s land is within a mile of the South Fork and they enter the program to totally retire the land for 15 years, they would now get paid more than $67,000 instead of $52,875.

    “They’ve known that they’ve needed to retire them for eight to 10 years,” Midcap said. “But the actual process of getting the fee increased has taken at least nine months.”

    Part of the reason for the hold-up, several local officials told KUNC, is that the conservation board members are often farmers and ranchers themselves. So they struggle to make decisions that could hurt them and their neighbors financially…

    [Note] Midcap later made a point to say that he has hope because the county can sustain itself on the remaining groundwater for at least another century…

    Midcap is confident that enough irrigated acres will be shut down to keep the state in compliance with the 2024 deadline. But there’s a second deadline: another 15,000 acres must shut down by 2029. He’s less confident about that…

    “But we’re between a rock and a sword. There is no other option,” said Deb Daniel, Republican River Water Conservation District manager. “If we don’t get this done, the state of Kansas could virtually force our state engineer to shut off irrigated ag in northeast Colorado, and we can’t let that happen.”

    Interest in irrigation-shutoff programs has already sharply increased since the district increased the payments it offers, she added…

    The actions needed to fulfill the compact, protect the river and keep the agricultural economic backbone of these communities strong can intersect, she said, but often end up at odds. There are a lot of hard decisions to be made…

    She’s inspired by the producers changing their crops to ones that use less water, and by those finding ways to farm without irrigation at all. She’s helping the conservation district, county government and Colorado Parks And Wildlife working on a $40 million plan to get water flowing through the South Fork around Bonny Reservoir again.

    But, Daniel admits, the river will likely never return to its former glory. At this point, it’s all just mitigating losses.

    Colorado Rivers. Credit: Geology.com

    U.S. saw its 4th-warmest year on record, fueled by a record-warm December: Nation struck with 20 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2021 — NOAA

    On September 4, 2021, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldiers and the Bureau of Land Management-California’s Folsom Lake Veterans Hand Crew constructed a handline, cleared brush, and dealt with hot spots north of Lake Davis and Portola during the largest wildfire of 2021–California’s Dixie Fire. The western wildfires of 2021 were one of 20 separate billion-dollar disasters that struck the United States last year. (Joe Bradshaw/Bureau of Land Management)

    From NOAA:

    The year 2021 was marked by extremes across the U.S., including exceptional warmth, devastating severe weather and the second-highest number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters on record.

    The nation also saw an active wildfire year across the West as the north Atlantic Basin stayed busy with its third most-active Atlantic hurricane season on record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

    Here’s a recap of the climate and extreme weather events across the U.S. in 2021:

    Climate by the numbers

    December 2021 | Full year 2021

    The December contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.3 degrees F, 6.7 degrees above average, making it the warmest December on record and exceeding the previous warmest December in 2015.

    Ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — also had their warmest Decembers on record.

    For 2021, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.5 degrees F, 2.5 degrees above the 20th-century average and ranked as the fourth-warmest year in the 127-year period of record. The six warmest years on record have all occurred since 2012.

    Maine and New Hampshire had their second-warmest year on record with 19 additional states across the Northeast, Great Lakes, Plains and West experiencing a top-five warmest year. Meanwhile, Alaska’s average annual temperature was 26.4 degrees F, 0.4 of a degree above the long-term average and the coldest year since 2012.

    Precipitation across the contiguous U.S. totaled 30.48 inches (0.54 of an inch above average), which placed 2021 in the middle third of the climate record. Massachusetts had its ninth-wettest year on record, while Montana ranked ninth driest on record for 2021.

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought coverage remained fairly significant and steady throughout much of 2021, with a minimum extent of 43.4% occurring on May 25 and maximum coverage of 55.5% on December 7.

    A map of the United States plotted with significant climate events that occurred throughout 2021.

    Billion-dollar disasters in 2021

    Last year, the U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that killed at least 688 people — the most disaster-related fatalities for the contiguous U.S. since 2011 and more than double last year’s number of 262. The following 20 events, each exceeding $1 billion, put 2021 in second place for the highest number of disasters recorded in a calendar year, behind the record 22 separate billion-dollar events in 2020:

  • 1 winter storm/cold wave event (focused across the deep south and Texas).
  • 1 wildfire event (western wildfires across Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington).
  • 1 drought and heat wave event (summer/fall across western U.S.).
  • 2 flood events (in California and Louisiana).
  • 3 tornado outbreaks (including the December tornado outbreaks).
  • 4 tropical cyclones (Elsa, Fred, Ida and Nicholas).
  • 8 severe weather events (across many parts of the country, including the December Midwest derecho).
  • Damages from these disasters totaled approximately $145 billion for all 20 events. This exceeds the total damage of $102 billion from the 22 events in 2020.

    Map of the U.S. plotted with 20 separate billion dollar disasters that occurred in 2021. For more, go to https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/.

    Hurricane Ida was the most costly event of 2021 at $75 billion and ranks among the top-five most costly hurricanes on record (since 1980) for the U.S. The combined cost of the four tropical systems was approximately $78.5 billion, more than 54% of the total U.S. billion-dollar disaster price tag in 2021.

    The historic mid-February winter storm/cold wave was the costliest winter storm on record ($24 billion), more than double the previous record winter storm event — the Storm of the Century in March 1993.

    The total cost over the last five years of these disasters (2017-2021) exceeds $742 billion — averaging $148 billion a year. These five-year and annual average costs both set record highs.

    Other notable climate and weather events in 2021

    The Atlantic hurricane season was busy: During 2021, 21 named storms formed in the North Atlantic Basin. This was the third most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Category 4 Hurricane Sam was the most intense Atlantic hurricane of the season, while Category 4 Hurricane Ida was the strongest landfalling and most destructive hurricane of the season. This was the sixth year in a row with above-average tropical activity across the Atlantic Basin.

    Numerous wildfires scorched the West: More than 7.1 million acres were burned across the western U.S. last year, which was 96% of the 10-year average. The second-largest fire in California history, the Dixie Fire, consumed nearly 964,000 acres in 2021. Smoke from several large fires created air quality and health concerns throughout much of the season.

    An active tornado year: The tornado count for 2021 was above average across the contiguous U.S., with 1,376 tornadoes reported. By early January 2022, 193 tornadoes were confirmed in December alone — the greatest number of tornadoes for any December on record and nearly double the previous record of 97 in 2002.

    The most notable events during the year were two outbreaks on March 17 and March 25 across the South, with a combined total of about 100 tornadoes, including an EF-4 tornado, an outbreak in Iowa on July 14, the December 10-11 Mid-Mississippi River Valley Tornado event that spawned two EF-4 tornadoes and the December 15 Midwest derecho event that produced more than 60 tornadoes across Nebraska and Iowa.