A century ago in #ColoradoRiver Compact negotiations: the Compact is signed — InkStain @jfleck @R_EricKuhn #COriver #CRWUA2022

The Compact’s Signers. Photo via InkStain

Click the link to read the article on the InkStain website (Eric Kuhn and John Fleck):

The final day of the Colorado River Compact negotiations seemed almost anticlimactic.

WORDSMITHING “UNPERFECTED RIGHTS”?

Unable to reach a final agreement on Article VIII on Thursday evening, the Commission met again on Friday morning, Nov. 24, 1922, at 10 AM. They began with a discussion of “unperfected rights.”  The concept behind the article was that rights that were then using water would not be impacted by the compact but once storage of at least 5,000,000 acre-feet of capacity was available, perfected rights on the lower river, like the Imperial Irrigation District, would be solely satisfied by that storage and would no longer have the right to call for water being used by junior rights upstream of Lee Ferry. All unperfected rights, including what Hoover call “inchoate rights” – those that were being planned but were not yet using water – could only consume water apportioned to the basin in which they were situated.

There were many of these inchoate rights out there, including George Maxwell’s Arizona Highline Canal which would eventually evolve into today’s Central Arizona Project. There was also the Girand Project, a proposed large private power dam in what is now the western Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles was in the early stages of exploring an aqueduct from the Colorado River. The compact would be useless if these types of projects had potential claims on the water uses above Lee Ferry. The commission finally, but reluctantly, agreed to:

“Present perfected rights to the beneficial use of waters of the Colorado River System are unimpaired by this compact. Whenever storage capacity of 5,000,000 acre-feet shall have been provided on the main Colorado River within or for the benefit of the Lower Basin, then claims of such rights, if any, by appropriators or users of water in the Lower Basin against appropriators or users of water in the Upper Basin shall attach to and be satisfied from water that may be stored not in conflict with Article III. All other rights to beneficial use of waters of the Colorado River System shall be satisfied solely from the water apportioned to that Basin in which they are situate.”

New Mexico’s Steven Davis summed up the attitude of many of the commissioners when he declared “I will register my vote as a ‘yes’ on that article. I do it only because to my mind it is the least objectionable of the attempts that have been made to frame the idea expressed in it, and not because I approve it.” Before approving the compact, they made at least two more changes that morning. They agreed to drop the introductory sentence in Article III and they dropped the definition of “apportionment” in Article II. (Note: at some point they also changed the accounting year in III(d) from July 1 -June 30 to October 1- September 30, but there is no mention of it in the minutes.)

The Commission held one more meeting that afternoon, its 27th formal meeting. It was mainly for housekeeping matters. They refused a request by Arizona’s Norviel to either support or not oppose the Girand Project that was then pending before the Federal Power Commission. Instead, they agreed that Hoover should send a letter asking that any future power permits be made subject to the compact. They then passed a resolution supporting the construction of a large dam on the Colorado River by the U. S. Government. The two actions were related. Hoover, Arthur Powell Davis, and McClure all opposed the Girand Project because they believed it would interfere with the proposed Boulder Canyon Project.

REFLECTING ON WHAT THEY ACCOMPLISHED

Before ending the meeting, they took time to congratulate one another on what they had accomplished. On behalf of his fellow commissioners Delph Carpenter, who nearly three years ago had suggested a compact be negotiated, made the following remarks for the record.

Carpenter went on to thank Hoover:

Hoover thanked all those present noting.

Hoover went on to add that the “days of romance of the West are gone, and the job of western man is one of construction.” Adding, “It is possible this will standout as one of the landmarks of Western development.”

The commissioners then made the trek through the snow into Santa Fe where they signed the compact at the Palace of Governors.

When buying a home — think about #water — The #ColoradoSprings Gazette

Mrs. Gulch’s Blue gramma “Eyelash” patch August 28, 2021.

Click the link to read the article on The Colorado Springs Gazette website (Susan Beckman and Andrea Cole). Here’s an excerpt:

Finding and paying for water is no easy task for these developers and their communities, leading to potential water restrictions as existing resources are stretched to the limit. In addition, as communities seek to encourage lower water usage increased costs are often times passed on to the residents. As a result of these costs, many homebuyers have shifted their focus to water and affordability. Wise homebuyers understand how important the precious resource of water is to the sustainability and survival of their community and are seeking places to live that have water supply plans and water demand management systems in place that serve as a foundation for the community as a whole…

Some of the things homebuyers should consider when looking for a community with a strong water demand management foundation include:

Innovate land planning: Look for a community with thoughtful lot sizes and focused landscape areas. Each of the new homes should be designed with landscaped yard that come with a water budget, water efficient landscaping and irrigation system that is designed to minimize the use of water. Each home should also come with installation specifications that require all new construction to be equipped with water efficient fixtures and appliances linked to new technologies.

Dual water metering: Seek out modern technology that puts the homeowner in charge of the water needs and water usage. This includes separate meters for indoor (less expensive water) and outdoor (more expensive water). This takes the guess work out of how much water that a homeowner is using. The homeowner is provided technology, and a phone app, that provides real-time feedback of their water use. This tool empowers residents to monitor their water usage, it also allows them to differentiate the water that is being used outside and the water being used inside.

Smart irrigation control systems: New homes should come equipped with a smart irrigation controller (Rachio Smart Irrigation System is an example) that integrates a dual water metering system into each home. These controllers help to optimize outdoor watering patterns and gives the plants in the yard the water they need to be healthy. The systems also monitor the weather and automatically adjust the outdoor watering schedule based on local and current weather conditions, so you are not watering your lawn during a rainstorm. The smart irrigation system also alerts a homeowner to water leaks and the homeowner can shut off the water remotely to avoid a flood.

Drought tolerant plant selections and landscape guidelines: In conjunction with the Denver Botanic Gardens, some Colorado communities have identified a set of outdoor plants for use by residents that are attractive, require less water and are drought tolerant (bird friendly options are also available). Landscape reviews by community districts also provide residents with ways to manage their home’s water budget to avoid use of more expensive water without compromising landscaping design that can be enjoyed by residents. Some communities will also provide classes to educate residents on gardening and water management.

Investing in resources: Forward thinking communities have invested extensive resources in home builder and customer education about water use, installed WaterSense approved fixtures and have implemented an innovative water budget-based rate structure that provides incentives to customers to manage their outdoor water use within a water budget.

Green Mountain Falls Trustees Approve New Water Pump Station — The Mountain Jackpot News

By Smallbones – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10986442

Click the link to read the article on The Mountain Jackpot News website. Here’s an excerpt:

The Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees approved plans last week for a new vastly expanded water pump station, being developed by  Colorado Springs Utilities.

According to a town staff report,  “the new pump station will be located at 10685 Hondo Ave. and will ensure reliable water service for residents and businesses in Green Mountain Falls. It will also provide a safer and more readily accessible working space for CSU, enabling more efficient maintenance and repair activities. CSU is currently finalizing an easement agreement with the property owner to allow the pump station to be built on the site.”

The project was recently discussed by the planning commission. At last week’s trustees meeting, the elected leaders had an extensive discussion with representatives of the project applicant, Dewberry Engineers. The trustees support the project goals, with the need for better infrastructure and the fact that the current pump station, located at the base of several prime trail areas, is outdated. The main concern dealt with a staging area for the preliminary construction efforts. Following considerable discussion, the staging area will occur at intersection of Ute Pass Avenue and Olathe Street. Not all the trustees were on board with the details, especially with the pre-construction staging area, which could involve a number of vehicles. But the Dewberry representatives stressed that they had limited options in GMF due to the small roadways.

The project will get underway sometime in 2023.

Article: Growing polarization around #ClimateChange on social media — Nature Climate Change #ActOnClimate

Click the link to read the article on the Nature Communications website (Max FalkenbergAlessandro GaleazziMaddalena TorricelliNiccolò Di MarcoFrancesca LarosaMadalina SasAmin MekacherWarren PearceFabiana ZolloWalter Quattrociocchi & Andrea Baronchelli)

Climate change and political polarization are two of the twenty-first century’s critical socio-political issues. Here we investigate their intersection by studying the discussion around the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP) using Twitter data from 2014 to 2021. First, we reveal a large increase in ideological polarization during COP26, following low polarization between COP20 and COP25. Second, we show that this increase is driven by growing right-wing activity, a fourfold increase since COP21 relative to pro-climate groups. Finally, we identify a broad range of ‘climate contrarian’ views during COP26, emphasizing the theme of political hypocrisy as a topic of cross-ideological appeal; contrarian views and accusations of hypocrisy have become key themes in the Twitter climate discussion since 2019. With future climate action reliant on negotiations at COP27 and beyond, our results highlight the importance of monitoring polarization and its impacts in the public climate discourse.

a, Total number of Twitter posts using the term ‘COP2x’ created each day. Inset: Google Trends (GT) popularity scores for ‘COP2x’, with country-specific scores showing the local enhancement of public engagement. b, The retweet distributions for COP21 and COP26. The total numbers of retweets are shown in the top right. Extended time periods and other COPs are shown in Supplementary Figs. 1 and 2. (Click for a larger view.)

The Karuk’s Innate Relationship with Fire: Adapting to #ClimateChange on the #KlamathRiver — NOAA

Controlled burn in the Klamath River watershed. A 2011 controlled burn in a tan oak gathering area creates defensible space below a nearby home while increasing the quality of the acorns by interrupting the life cycle of the acorn weevil. Image: Mid Klamath Watershed Council.

Click the link to read the article on the NOAA webiste:

Members of the Karuk Tribe in northern California maintain that the age-old tradition of prescribed burning holds the answer to climate adaptation planning in the Klamath River range.

Fire is foundational to the Karuk Tribe, who live and manage 1.048 million acres of their aboriginal lands along the Klamath and Salmon Rivers in northern California. By removing accumlated fuels, fire makes room for new growth and change. This renewal helps ensure the quality of traditional foods and cultural materials and serves as a medium of cultural education. Ceremonies surrounding fire strengthen the Tribe’s social networks and enhance its members’ physical and mental health.

The Tribe’s proactive cultural use of fire also protects the Klamath River basin by reducing the availability of forest fuels—and thus reducing the risk of high-severity wildfire that can threaten people, their homes and businesses, and natural systems such as forests and wetlands near rivers and streams.

Wildland systems in the Klamath River range have evolved alongside Karuk management practices for thousands of years. Tribal families continue to use traditional forest management techniques—including low-intensity prescribed burns—to cultivate the forest to become a more productive resource for food and cultural materials and to reduce the availability of forest fuels. Tribal programs support and expand upon their work.

The map shows the Karuk Tribe aboriginal land base in northern California. Credit: NOAA

Traditional Karuk fire use

“Fire is a cultural resource.”—Leaf Hillman, Karuk Director of Natural Resources

Beargrass—or panyúrar in Karuk—is an important species for basket weavers and regalia makers. The blades that grow the first year after a fire are considered best for basket weaving. Panyúrar can be stimulated by fire, and is fire-adapted in that it can sprout from rhizomes following fire or re-establish by seed. At the same time, panyúrar can be damaged by fires that burn too hot. Photo credit: NOAA

Indigenous burning is increasingly recognized as a component of the ecosystem and a restoration technique. Fire is important for restoring grasslands for elk, managing for food sources such as tan and black oak acorns, maintaining quality basketry materials, and producing smoke that can shade the river for fish. Karuk fire regimes generate what is known as “pyrodiversity”—the biodiversity consequences of fire management—on the landscape by extending the burning season and shortening the intervals of fire return.

The multitude of foods, materials, and other products that come from Karuk lands are evidence of the profound diversity of fire regimes that are required to maintain relationships with hundreds of animal, plant, and mushroom species.

Tanoak acorns (xuntápan) are a staple Native food for many indigenous people and are also vital for numerous wildlife species. Additionally, the roots of tanoak trees support the growth of another important food, tanoak mushrooms. Tanoak (xunyêep) is very susceptible to high-intensity fire, but benefits from cultural burning that decreases tree and acorn pests and reduces competitive vegetation. Photo credit: NOAA

Since European contact, non-native use and management of the region has severely impacted the Karuk people’s access to cultural, ceremonial, and food resources. The region’s changing climate has exacerbated these effects, and the Karuk are now experiencing a decline in the abundance of key species, including salmon, acorns, huckleberries, hazel, and willow. Natural disasters and hazards ranging from increasing frequency of high-severity wildfire to flooding and mudslides are on the rise—generating a range of negative human health outcomes for the Karuk people.

Revitalizing Traditional Ecological Knowledge

In order to adapt to these and other ongoing challenges, the Karuk people are working to revitalize the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) inextricably tied to their ability to physically apply resource management practices. Fire has been a primary tool in Karuk wildland management systems, and the Tribe maintains that the age-old tradition of prescribed burning holds the answer to climate adaptation planning in the Klamath River range.

The Tribe has researched and published two reports concerning social and environmental climate changes and the long-term effects the Karuk people are facing with regard to knowledge sovereignty and the vulnerability of their TEK, supported by the 2015 Tribal Cooperative Landscape Conservation Program administered by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Climate Resilience Program.

One report—Karuk Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the Need for Knowledge Sovereignty—emphasizes two key concepts:

  • First, that TEK is not an isolated application, but a living system that requires ongoing practice in the landscape for survival. Preserving knowledge sovereignty is fundamentally about Karuk cultural management because this knowledge is embedded in, and emerges from, the practices of traditional management.
  • Second, it is impossible—as well as unethical—to attempt to remove TEK from its original context. Efforts to extract knowledge are a form of cultural appropriation that erodes the very foundations of tribal life. Knowledge and management techniques are at the core of tribal identity, culture, spiritual practice, and subsistence economies. Karuk people need fire in order to restore the land, strengthen cultural relationships, revitalize ceremonial education, and protect all who inhabit the Klamath River region from the adverse effects of high-severity wildfire.
Traditional Karuk acorn basket. Photo credit: NOAA

A follow-up report, entitled Retaining Knowledge Sovereignty, stresses the federal obligation to maintain Karuk knowledge sovereignty due to the likelihood of cultural appropriation and misuse of Karuk TEK. For example, the U.S. Forest Service, a federal agency, makes decisions about prescribed burning within the Klamath and Six Rivers National Forests. The report provides strategies to promote traditional knowledge sovereignty, including reference to the Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives. Tribal leaders believe that it is possible to create a meaningful collaboration with the Forest Service, the Klamath National Forest, and the Six Rivers National Forest that upholds and strengthens tribal sovereignty and recognizes the legitimacy of the Karuk’s practical ability to carry out traditional management to restore the Klamath to a safe and productive state of health.

Climate Vulnerability Assessment

In addition to the reports mentioned above, the Tribe has also undertaken and published the Karuk Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA), which addresses vulnerabilities to Karuk traditional foods and cultural use species, tribal program infrastructure, and management authority and political status that result from the increasing frequency of high-severity fire. The CVA makes the case that Karuk tribal knowledge and management principles regarding the use of fire can be utilized to reduce the likelihood of high-severity fires and thereby protect public, as well as tribal, trust resources.

References: 

Story Credit: 

Aja Conrad, Miakah Nix, and Kathy Lynn, Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project/University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program

Banner Image Credit: 

A 2011 controlled burn in a tan oak gathering area creates defensible space below a nearby home while increasing the quality of the acorns by interrupting the life cycle of the acorn weevil. Image: Mid Klamath Watershed Council. Used with permission