2018 #COleg: Legislation aims to prevent new mining operations from polluting #Colorado waterways

Acid mine drainage. Photo credit: University of Colorado

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado lawmakers on Tuesday took a step toward preventing future mining disasters while acknowledging that contamination of waterways from old mining sites continues each day.

They rolled out legislation, immediately opposed by industry, that would require mining companies to make reclamation plans that include an end date for water treatment to remove pollution. Proponents say this would force a responsible assessment, before mining begins, of how best to minimize harm.

The bill also would force companies to post better financial assurance to cover costs of cleanup…

“This bill is an important, yet moderate, step forward in addressing Colorado’s mining woes. If it were to pass, there would certainly still be more work to do,” Conservation Colorado water advocate Kristin Green said. “Even moderate policy such as this by no means has a clear path to the governor’s desk. ….. This bill will not solve our existing problems, but it works to ensure the problem is not getting worse.”


A state requirement that companies submit reclamation plans specifying an end date for when water-cleaning no longer would be necessary is aimed at preventing perpetual treatment as a remedy. The bill also would require companies posting financial assurance bond money to include costs of protecting water, to reduce taxpayer vulnerability. And the bill would eliminate “self-bonding.” Colorado remains one of seven states where companies can self bond, or cover themselves, without posting recoverable assets.

2018 #COleg: HB18-1008 Mussel-free Colorado Act status update

From KKCO:

A bill in the state capitol is aiming to cut down the chances there are for our bodies of water to be infested with an invasive species.

This bill is called the mussel-free Colorado act. It would fund Colorado parks and wildlife aquatic nuisance species program more consistently.

If passed into a law, a person living in the state would have to pay 25 dollars for a stamp. The stamp proves the boat has been inspected and it’s clean. A non-resident would have to pay 50 dollars.

That money would go to the department’s inspection program.

“We all have a stake in this to keep these species out of Colorado; whether that’s through a stamp or cleaning and draining and drying your boat or going through an inspection process,” said Mike Porras, a spokesperson with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The bill would also increase fines if you do infest any water. It’s currently 150 dollars but that would change to 500 dollars.

The bill will be heard next in the senate appropriations committee.

2018 #COleg: SB18-143 (Parks And Wildlife Measures To Increase Revenue) introduced

From KOAA.com (Tyler Dumas):

A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers has introduced a new bill with the hopes of ensuring access to Colorado’s natural resources for future generations, by finding a long-term funding solution for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

Senate Bill 18-143, or the Hunting, Fishing, and Parks for Future Generations Act was introduced on Monday, Jan. 29.

The bill is sponsored by two Republicans – Sen. Don Coram of Montrose and Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida – as well as two Democrats – Sen. Stephen Fenberg of Boulder and Rep. Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins.

CPW said the bill was introduced after roughly three years of public meetings with legislators and outdoor enthusiasts, regarding the agency’s financial challenges and the future of Colorado’s outdoor recreation, state parks, and wildlife.

CPW receives less than one percent of it’s annual budget from general fund tax revenue. They rely primarily on sales of hunting and fishing licenses, park passes, and camping fees. With the proposed bill, the agency is seeking approval to adjust fees to cover the rising costs associated with managing wildlife, protecting habitat, and maintaining and improving state parks to meet the needs of a growing population.

With new funding the bill would bring, CPW said they are committed to pursuing the following goals and objectives by 2025:

  • Grow the number of hunters and anglers in Colorado through investments in programs such as hunter education, Fishing is Fun, and the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, and grants for shooting ranges in all regions of the state.
  • Expand access for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists by renewing existing high-priority leases and supporting additional public access programs on public and private lands.
  • Increase and improve big game populations through investments in habitat and conservation, including building more highway wildlife crossings to protect wildlife and motorists.
  • Improve species distribution and abundance monitoring and disease prevention efforts through partnerships with private landowners.
  • Increase the number of fish stocked in Colorado waters to above 90 million through hatchery modernization and renovations.
  • Identify and begin planning the development of Colorado’s next state park.
  • Reduce risks to life and property and sustain water-based recreation opportunities by reducing CPW’s dam maintenance and repair backlog by 50 percent.
  • Engage all outdoor recreationists, such as hikers, bikers, and wildlife watchers, in the maintenance of state lands and facilities and the management of wildlife.
  • Recruit and retain qualified employees to manage wildlife, park, recreational and aquatic resources.
    Provide quality infrastructure at CPW properties by completing much needed construction and maintenance.
  • In order to achieve these objectives, the bill would adjust fees for hunting and fishing licenses, as well as park passes. Hunting and fishing licenses would increase by $8. For example, an annual fishing license would increase from $26 to $33, and an elk tag would increase from $45 to $53. The bill would however reduce the price of an annual fishing license for those 16 and 17-years-old to $8. It would also allow the Parks and Wildlife Commission to implement other license discounts, in order to introduce a new generation of hunters and anglers to the outdoors.

    In addition to licenses, the proposed bill would CPW to raise state park entrance fees. Any increase though would be capped at $1/year for a daily pass, and $10/year for an annual pass.

    For more information on the Future Generations Act, you can visit the CPW website at the following link: Future Generations Act

    Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention @COWaterCongress #cwcac2018

    Coyote Albuquerque February 2015 photo by Roberto E. Rosales via the Albuquerque Journal.

    I’ll be live-tweeting from the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention today. Follow along on Twitter @CoyoteGulch or better yet, follow the conference hash tag #CWCAC2018.

    2018 #COleg: HB 18-1008 (The Mussel-free #Colorado Act) sails out of committee

    One valve of Dreissena bugensis. Photo credit: Wikimedia

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

    Colorado has done well keeping aquatic nuisance species out of its lakes and rivers, but that won’t continue to be the case if it doesn’t properly fund a program combating them, sponsors of a bill to raise fees to pay for that program said Monday.

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing establishing a $25 annual fee for a special boat stamp — $50 for out-of-state boaters — that would come on top of the annual boat registration fee the state already assesses on the more than 90,000 boats that use Colorado waters.

    The fee is expected to raise about $2.3 million a year, which is about half of what the program costs, said Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, who’s sponsoring the bill along with Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Don Coram, R-Montrose.

    “It’s better to have a sustainable source of income coming from the people who use the waterways to fund this,” Arndt told the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee, which approved the measure 10-3…

    While some state lawmakers said the bill didn’t properly address the program’s entire funding needs, others said the fee should be higher.

    “I’m not a wild fan of fee increases or a large fan of government intervention; however, I can tell you that this fee amount is a compromise,” said Kellen Friedlander, who testified on behalf of the Colorado Marine Dealers Association. “Colorado registrations are still one of the lowest, so we’re not asking for something that’s … totally out of whack with other states. We’re still relatively inexpensive to register boats.”

    Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, said it would be worse for Colorado’s rural economy if the state were forced to close lakes because of such nuisance species as the zebra mussel.

    “If we are not successful at this … everybody is going to pay to get those little buggers off the pipes,” Catlin said. “I really think the state of Colorado has a serious problem, and if we don’t get with it we’re going to have one we can never solve.”

    The bill also would increase penalties for boaters who fail to get inspected before launching, raising that fine from $150 for a first offense to $500.

    2018 #COleg: HB 18-1008 (The Mussel-free #Colorado Act) introduced

    Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

    The Colorado legislature will consider a bill that would provide stable funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife efforts to keep zebra and quagga mussels out of state waters.

    The Mussel-Free Colorado Act (HB 18-1008) was introduced Jan. 10 in the legislature.

    If passed, this bill will provide a funding source of $2.4 million for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Program in 2019 and beyond by requiring motorboats and sailboats to purchase an ANS stamp.

    Colorado residents will be charged $25 and non-residents will be charged $50.

    The bill also would continue Tier 2 Severance Tax appropriations, when available, to cover the remainder of the $4.5-$5 million annual cost of ANS program implementation, increase fines for violations and allow CPW to charge for labor and costs incurred to store and decontaminate intercepted vessels.

    “Zebra and quagga mussels pose a serious threat to our state’s water infrastructure, natural resources and recreation,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said in a press release. “As a headwater state with no adult mussel infestations, the only way zebra or quagga mussels can get into Colorado is overland by hitchhiking on watercraft.”

    The numbers of motorboats and sailboats found by inspectors each year infested with zebra and quagga mussels continues to rise, according to the release.

    In 2017, Colorado inspectors intercepted a record 26 boats infested with adult mussels coming in from out of state. They have intercepted 144 boats infested with adult mussels since the ANS Program began.

    Zebra and quagga mussels are not native to the nation’s rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Adult infestations harm aquatic ecosystems and fisheries by disrupting the food web and out-competing native species, according to CPW, as well as problems for water infrastructure used for municipal, agriculture and industrial purposes by attaching to, clogging and impairing water storage, treatment and distribution systems.

    “While the problem is getting worse in neighboring states, Colorado’s prevention program is working to keep mussels out of our waters,” Reid DeWalt, assistant director of wildlife and natural resources for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

    @GovofCO presents his final state of the state address

    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    Here’s the complete text of the speech from The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

    We created the country’s first and best methane regulations; a water plan that secures food production; protected the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species; and developed an electric vehicle infrastructure spanning 7,000 miles.

    We cut or modified almost half of our rules and regulations. And in doing so, saved businesses nearly eight million dollars and over two million hours last year alone.

    Two million hours!

    And we measured our progress on everything that matters.

    We trained thousands of employees who completed 600 LEAN process improvements…created more value for Coloradans and won several awards…

    So we will not let up. We won’t stop to enjoy the view. We have a lot to accomplish in the next 119 days:

    ● We need to find the right solution to PERA’s unfunded liability.
    ● We need to pass legislation to safely cap orphan wells.
    ● We need to halt the opioid epidemic that continues to destroy lives and families, and disproportionately affects our rural communities.
    ● We need to enact a K-12 and Infrastructure Funding Plan that will help make the Water Plan a reality.
    ● We need legislation and funds to ensure full broadband buildout in rural areas.
    ● And we need to protect our rural communities by addressing the intense, negative impact the Gallagher amendment has had, and will have, in the future.

    It’s a commonsense agenda…

    We need your support to get to the finish line. One of the most essential pieces of infrastructure in our economy is our natural landscape, our clean air and water — the things everyone thinks about when they hear the word “Colorado.”

    It’s one reason why companies of all sorts have been drawn to this place we love. And the reason why the outdoor recreation show is coming to Denver in a couple weeks along with its $110 million in economic impact.

    It’s why many of our farmers and ranchers, who live on the land, came here, and stay here.

    But the responsibility to be good stewards doesn’t only fall on rural parts of the state. It rests with all of us.

    Xcel has submitted a plan to close two coals plants in Pueblo. This will clean our air and lower costs for consumers – and lead to greater investments that support 21st-century careers.

    What is it the critics don’t like? Is it the cleaner air or the lower utility bills?

    Clean air matters.

    Xcel is also working with Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel — one of the cleanest steel plants in the world — to move toward renewable energy while protecting Pueblo’s future as a center for steel manufacturing. We need everyone’s support to make this a reality.

    Pueblo is known as steel city, but soon it could also be “solar and wind city.”

    Most of us agree that science shows climate change is happening at a significant rate in large part because of humans. But even those of us who disagree on climate change can agree that we need to protect the Colorado environment our grandchildren will grow to love with a strong economy where they can find jobs.

    This includes protecting our water for agriculture. If we don’t implement our water plan, rural agricultural communities will be hit first and hardest. We live in a state of open markets. They can never afford to match what Front Range homeowners pay for domestic water.

    Having a sustainable source of food — no matter what happens around the world — is an essential foundation for the future of our state.

    We’re one of the great food exporting states and that’s a resource we should continue to invest in…rather than put at risk.

    The Colorado Water Plan provides a framework but doesn’t include all the funding for the last $1 billion over the next 30 years. We need the support of the General Assembly.

    But the cost of water has been a small part of rising new housing prices along much of the Front Range and elsewhere. It strains one’s ability to love where they live when they can’t afford the price of a home or even rent near the jobs and communities they care about.