The Year of the Flood — Platte Basin Timelapse

Screenshot of the Platte Basin Timelapse “Year of the Flood” story map January 17, 2020.

Click here to view the story map from Platte Basin Timelapse. Here’s the preface:

The flood event of 2019 was historic and devastating for parts of Nebraska and the Midwest.

Platte Basin Timelapse team members Grant Reiner, Carlee Koehler, Ethan Freese, and Mariah Lundgren traveled to parts of the state to explore questions they had about this historic weather event. What happens to wildlife during these big weather events? How were people affected by the floodwaters? What does this mean for the birds that nest on the river? How many PBT cameras survived? These are our stories.

@CWCB_DNR: Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extended 13 Years

Platte River Recomery Implemtation Program area map.

Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

A victory for wildlife and Colorado water, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and the Governors of Nebraska and Wyoming signed a Cooperative Agreement to extend the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) with $156 million.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has played a major role in this Program’s creation and ongoing efforts, including policy and financial support.

“This collaborative program supports the recovery of four threatened and endangered species by improving and maintaining habitat in the Platte River in Nebraska while allowing for continued water use in Colorado,” said Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell. “We look forward to continuing our role in the upcoming years of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.”

“The commitment by the states and the U.S. Department of the Interior to continue the program’s innovative approach to species recovery and Endangered Species Act compliance is a win-win for the future of Colorado’s citizens and the environment,” said Governor Polis.

The Program was set to expire at the end of 2019. However, with support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; the Department of Natural Resources; and other state, federal, and non-governmental partners; a bill supported by the entire Congressional delegation from Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming was passed and signed by the President before the New Year.

Together with its water users, the Colorado Water Conservation Board is celebrating the Program’s more than a decade record of success. As the Program enters into its next 13 years, it has momentum to continue to recover threatened and endangered species, which provides assurance for future water use in Colorado.

Sandhill crane migration, Platte River via the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Four States Irrigation Council annual meeting, January 8-10, 2020, set to take place in Fort Collins — The Greeley Tribune

Irrigation sprinklers run over a farm in Longmont in the South Platte River basin. Photo credit: Lindsay Fendt/Aspen Journalism

From The Greeley Tribune (Cuyler Meade):

The Colorado River Compact and water infrastructure projects will be among the items discussed at the annual Four States Irrigation Council meeting held Wednesday through Friday in Fort Collins.

the Four States Irrigation Council is a group of irrigators, irrigation and water districts, ditch companies and others looking to discuss water-delivery and irrigation-related issues affecting the Four States region, which encompasses Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Exhibitors at the event will showcase some of the latest innovations and provide attendees with up-to-date information on new products and services. Awards will also be presented.

Membership in the Four States Irrigation Council is open to anyone and free of dues or fees. Someone can become a member by attending the annual meeting or visiting 4-states-irrigation.org and requesting to be added to mailing list.

More information about the meeting is also available on the website.

@Interior Extends #PlatteRiver Recovery Implementation Program to Protect Endangered Species

Platte River Recomery Implemtation Program area map.

Here’s the release from the Department of Interior (Brock Merrill):

Secretary of the Interior, along with Governors of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, commit an additional $156 million for recovering threatened and endangered species in the Platte River Basin

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed an amendment to the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Cooperative Agreement, along with the governors of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, committing resources to extend the program through Dec. 31, 2032. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program utilizes federal- and state-provided financial resources, water and scientific monitoring and research to support and protect four threatened and endangered species that inhabit areas of the Central and Lower Platte rivers in Nebraska while allowing for continued water and hydropower project operations in the Platte River basin.

“This program is truly an important partnership that has been successful because of the broad collaboration between federal and state representatives, water and power users and conservation groups,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “All of these stakeholders working together to help recover imperiled species is critical as new water and power projects are continued and developed in the Platte River Basin.”

The program provides compliance for four species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for new and existing water-related projects in the Platte River Basin. Examples of existing water related projects include the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado Big-Thompson Project on the South Platte River in Colorado and the North Platte Project in Wyoming and Nebraska.

“Programs like the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program are critical to ensuring that Reclamation is able to deliver water and power in an environmentally and economically sound manner,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman “This program is a true success story of how stakeholders and government from across state lines can work together for the common good.”

The program began in 2007 and is managed by a governance committee comprised of representatives from Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, water users, environmental groups and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program has brought together three states, environmental groups, water users, and two federal agencies to forge a common goal of balancing existing use with an eye towards recovery for four threatened and endangered species,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. “This program has ensured that Wyoming continues existing water uses in the South and North Platte River Basins while making measurable contributions to species recovery.”

“The signing of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Cooperative Agreement Amendment marks the celebration of more than a decade of success,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “The commitment by the states and the U.S. Department of the Interior to continue the program’s innovative approach to species recovery and Endangered Species Act compliance is a win-win for the future of Colorado’s citizens and the environment. We look forward to the next 13 years working with our partners to lead in this national model of collaboration.”

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry. Extending the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program gives Nebraska’s ag producers certainty around water and land use in the coming years,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “We appreciate the collaboration we enjoy with the other states who are party to this agreement, and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.”

The estimated total value of federal and state contributions to the program during the first extension is $156 million. The U.S. Department of the Interior will provide one half of the funding necessary for the extension, which will be matched by states through contributions of non-federal funding and water from state-sponsored projects that is provided for the benefit of target threatened and endangered species.

To learn more please visit the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program target species (L to R), Piping plover, Least tern, Whooping crane, Pallid sturgeon

#PlatteRiver Recovery Implementation Program funding included in funding bill

Platte River Recomery Implemtation Program area map.

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The people of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska got an early Christmas present from the U.S. Senate on Thursday, and it has Don Ament breathing a sigh of relief.

Ament has said he was delighted to hear that the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill Thursday to extend the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program as part of the year-end spending package. The bill was introduced by Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R). The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week and will now go to the president’s desk to be signed into law…

The first increment of the program is set to expire on at the end of this year; Senate Bill 990 extends the program by an additional 13 years. PRRIP is a cooperative agreement among the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the Secretary of the Interior to achieve Endangered Species Act compliance on the Platte River.

Ament, who represents Colorado’s governor on the four-entity board that oversees the program, has been concerned since April about whether PRRIP would be extended. That’s when Bennet and Gardner, along with U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), introduced the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extension Act.

Since then, however, Washington, D.C., has been somewhat distracted by political conflict between Republicans and Democrats, making any kind of bipartisanship seem to be impossible. That has had Ament concerned that funding for the program would lapse after Dec. 31, leaving the program’s future in doubt…

In addition to addressing protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, PRRIP has allowed the three states and the Department of Interior to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation involving the Endangered Species Act. According to a statement released by the U.S. Interior Department, “The program has provided a level of certainty to water users in the Platte River drainage that litigation would not have afforded.”

Governor Gordon Requests Disaster Declaration for Five #Wyoming Counties

Here’s the release from Governor Gordon’s office:

Governor Mark Gordon has sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting a Disaster Designation for five Wyoming counties where agriculture producers were impacted by powerful early-season snowstorms.

The request covers Laramie, Goshen, Platte, Park and Big Horn counties. The scale, severity and timing of freezing and snow events that occurred in October were devastating to crops, particularly sugar beets. While producers did their best to maximize their harvest, damage from the storms was severe.

A copy of the Governor’s letter can be viewed here.

Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com