#SouthPlatteRiver restoration project awarded $350 million in infrastructure bill funds — #Colorado Newsline

Ducks patrol the South Platte River as construction workers shore up bank. Oct. 8, 2019. Credit: Jerd Smith

A long-planned project to restore healthy ecosystems along the South Platte River and two other waterways in central Denver got a major boost from the federal government this week, in the form of $350 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The funding for the South Platte River Project, spearheaded by Denver and Adams counties, will cover nearly two-thirds of the $550 million that civic leaders plan to spend restoring wetland habitats, improving recreation and mitigating flood risk along a 6.5-mile stretch of the river, along with Weir Gulch and Harvard Gulch.

The funds awarded Tuesday by the Biden administration are part of the $17 billion appropriated by a new federal infrastructure law to the Army Corps of Engineers to support flood mitigation projects across the country.

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“I’m delighted to welcome funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill for the South Platte River and surrounding communities after years of urging Washington to support this project,” Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement. “For decades, the neighborhoods bordering the South Platte River have experienced environmental hardship. This project is an important part of Denver’s efforts to protect communities and businesses from flooding, build resilient infrastructure, and help ensure that anyone who wants to live and work in Denver is able to.”

The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a feasibility and impact study on the project in 2019, concluding more than a decade of planning and environmental reviews. In addition to restoring aquatic, wetland and riparian wildlife habitats along the South Platte, supporters say the plan will create more than 7,000 jobs and protect hundreds of homes and other structures from flood risk.

In December, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock convened a coalition of two dozen interest groups that signed a memorandum of understanding on the project in order to secure federal funding. Signatories included the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Denver Water and multiple environmental and conservation organizations — as well as business and real-estate groups like the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Revesco Properties.

Revesco is the developer behind the massive, multi-billion-dollar River Mile project, which aims to redevelop 62 acres along the Platte south of Confluence Park over the next 25 years, adding homes for new 15,000 residents and ultimately displacing the Elitch Gardens amusement park. The river restoration project, too, is likely to take decades to complete, with city officials estimating in 2018 that the project could be finished in 10 to 20 years.

“The restoration and conservation of the South Platte River ecosystem is a phenomenal opportunity,” Hancock said in a statement. “Infrastructure investments like this do more than just improve our waterways, they build lives, they build communities and they build futures.”

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The latest “E-Newsletter” is hot off the presses from the Hutchins #Water Center

Colorado River “Beginnings”. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Click the link to read the newsletter on the Hutchins Water Center website. Here’s an excerpt:

NEW REPORTS

The Hutchins Water Center recently completed two reports: Insights Gained on Agricultural Water Conservation for Water Security in the Upper Colorado River Basin distills insights from recent studies and experiences related to using strategic agricultural water conservation in order to help balance supply and demand in the Colorado River system, share water supplies, and aid troubled streams. The other report, Grand Valley Water Workforce Needs & Related Opportunities at Colorado Mesa University, summarizes local water workforce skill and knowledge needs and outlines how current CMU offerings respond, as well as opportunities for improvement.

How the US stole thousands of Native American children: The long and brutal history of the US trying to “kill the Indian and save the man.” — Vox

Click the link to read the article on the Vox website (Ranjani Chakraborty). Here’s an excerpt:

For decades, the US took thousands of Native American children and enrolled them in off-reservation boarding schools. Students were systematically stripped of their languages, customs, and culture. And even though there were accounts of neglect, abuse, and death at these schools, they became a blueprint for how the US government could forcibly assimilate native people into white America.

At the peak of this era, there were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Native American boarding schools across the US.

A rough map of 357 Native American boarding schools. Alvin Chang/Ranjani Chakraborty

The schools weren’t just a tool for cultural genocide. They were also a way to separate native children from their land. During the same era in which thousands of children were sent away, the US encroached on tribal lands through war, broken treaties, and new policies.

As years of indigenous activism led the US to begin phasing out the schools, the government found a new way to assimilate Native American children: adoption. Native children were funneled into the child welfare system. And programs, like the little-known government “Indian Adoption Project” intentionally placed them with white adoptive families.

In our latest episode of Missing Chapter, we explore this long legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. And how native families are still fighting back against the impacts today.

#Drought news (March 31, 2022): No change in depiction for #Colorado

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor.

Click the link to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

Two fast-moving storms impacted the Lower 48 last week. Heavy rain fell across parts of the Midwest and South, leading to broad areas of drought improvement in these regions. Parts of the West saw much-needed rainfall. In most cases, these amounts were not enough to bring relief to the region’s relentless long-term drought conditions. Pockets of dryness also continued across the northern High Plains, South, and Southeast leading to drought expansion…

High Plains

Much of the High Plains remained dry last week resulting in deteriorating drought conditions across parts of the Dakotas and Nebraska. The eastern edges of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) crept eastward. Severe drought (D2) expanded over a large swath from southwest North Dakota to central Nebraska. Extreme drought spread in central Nebraska. Short-term dryness is superimposed over long-term moisture deficits across the region. The lack of seasonal snow cover combined with the onset of spring has people in the region worried. Soil moisture is very low, stream flows continue to decline and state reports indicate that stock ponds are drying up…

West

Parts of the West saw much needed precipitation with rain over the West Coast and higher elevation snow over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In most cases, these amounts were not enough to bring relief to drought conditions that have plagued the region for months. Only western Oregon saw minor improvements to abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) in response to recent precipitation. Across much of the West, higher than normal temperatures last week caused premature snow melt, with snowpack values plummeting over just a few days. The California Department of Water Resources noted that about one-third of the water equivalency disappeared in a week. Extreme drought (D3) expanded in northern California, parts of Utah, and New Mexico. In these locations, the warm weather has led to increased evaporative demand and stress on vegetation. The rest of the West remained unchanged this week…

South

This week the South saw drought worsen across west and south Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle. Above-normal temperatures combined with below-normal precipitation and high winds exacerbated conditions. Drought indicators supporting the degradations include increasing precipitation deficits, dry surface and root zone soil moisture and low stream flow. State drought teams noted reports of blowing dust and crop failures in the area. Drought also expanded across southern Louisiana. This area has been in severe drought (D2) since March without any relief in weeks. One-category improvements were made to drought conditions across east Texas, southern Arkansas, north and central Louisiana and Mississippi in areas where the heaviest rain (3 inches or more) fell and where warranted by short-term precipitation indicators, streamflow, soil moisture and other measures…

Looking Ahead

The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center forecast (valid March 31 – April 7) calls for heavy rain and storms ahead of an advancing cold front extending from south of Lake Michigan to East Texas. Storms will progress eastward through the remainder of the week. The Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and New England can expect snow/freezing rain. Heavy rain and mountain snow are expected from the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies. Moving into next week, the Climate Prediction Center Outlook (Valid April 7 – 13) favors above normal temperature for a large part of the West, extending from California across the Great Basin and into the southern Rockies. Meanwhile, near to above normal temperatures are favored for the Northeast and Eastern Seaboard. Below normal temperatures are expected over the eastern central CONUS. The outlook favors above normal precipitation across much of the northern tier of the Lower 48 and Alaska. Near to below normal precipitation is favored over southern areas of the West and the Southern and Central Plains.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending March 29, 2022.