Rifle “State of the River” meeting recap: We, “are all in this together” — Annie Whetzel

Colorado River Basin in Colorado via the Colorado Geological Survey

The Middle Colorado Watershed Council, MCWC, aims to protect the stretch of Colorado River from the mouth of Glenwood Canyon to De Beque at the western edge of Garfield County. We work with everyone who uses water from the agricultural community, to city water users (including tooth-brushers and lawn-waterers), to oil and gas developers and every governmental agency in between to encourage wise water use and ensure safe water quality for everyone involved.

Working with the Colorado River District for the State of the River was a great reminder that navigating these diverse interests and subsequent water uses is a common thread for the entire river, from the headwaters of the Colorado down to the river terminus. Through education, dialog and exchange of information we have a chance to better understand and manage the finite resource.

The MCWC has a few projects on the ground and on the horizon that aim to connect our stretch of river to the larger river system. These efforts involve riparian restoration, a nice term for fighting invasive species like tamarisk and ensuring native plants have a chance to grow back, and water quality management.


Tamarisk Coalition chose the MCWC as one of nine programs to join their Restore Our Rivers campaign. The campaign provides tools and funding for river restoration programs that combat tamarisk and Russian olive and more…

This summer the MCWC will begin a few restoration projects and will continue to monitor existing projects. It is our way of working along our 75 mile stretch of river and understanding how we fit into the larger picture.

As for water quality monitoring, we are undertaking a citizen science program to establish a baseline for what is in our water in the middle Colorado River and its tributaries. Upstream and downstream of us, many groups already test water quality, and therefore again, we are tasked with understanding how our section of river fits into the larger system. Our citizen science program is designed to find out what water quality looks like today, see how that compares to the past, and allows for the opportunity to evaluate trends into the future. How are we affecting water quality and are there opportunities to improve? The data we and our stakeholders collect will help us understand our basin better, but will also provide service to everyone downstream of us.

Our little, but significant, stretch of river is ours to take care of. Managing the entire Colorado River might seem like a daunting task, but we can be stewards for our stretch, from Glenwood Canyon to De Beque. The steps we take to protect our water helps our little basin, but also, we are working a much larger system throughout the west, because we are all in this together.

Annie Whetzel is community outreach coordinator at the Middle Colorado Watershed Council. To learn more about the council, go to http://www.midcowatershed.org. You can also find the council on Facebook at http://facebook.com/midcowatershed.

2017 River Sweep recap — The Greenway Foundation

Photo credit The Greenway Foundation.

Here’s the release from The Greenway Foundation:

Volunteers donated over 1,000 hours to 6 parks along the South Platte River. We were able to spread over 70 yards mulch to protect existing trees and plants. Volunteers collected 20 cubic yards of pant debris and 10 cubic yards of trash. Originateve, another local non-profit, sorted through the collected trash and sorted out 400 gallons of recyclable materials!

Over 30 families joined The Greenway Foundation SPREE Education team for the Publication Printers Family Event at City of Cuernavaca Park. We started the morning with a trash clean up along the South Platte River and removed invasive plants under the guidance of Arborforce staff. Families then came up to the pavilion for lawn games and fun guided nature crafts. We made butterflies out of coffee filters, clay stamps using natural materials, planted seeds, and drew with chalk. Thanks again to everyone who helped us clean up this beautiful park!

The Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) team picked up trash along the road and river in City of Cuernavaca Park. We had a great crew helping clean up the park, with a bunch of new faces and some familiar ones as well! We all spent a couple of hours diligently removing trash, and then some of us hung around to eat food and try our hand at giant Jenga.

Check out the pictures from both events!

Denver: Federal judge dismisses Water Supply & Storage Company lawsuit

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

A water-and-fish dispute that began in 1994 just ended. A federal judge in Denver on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed in 2011 by Fort Collins-based Water Supply & Storage Co. over a U.S. Forest Service decision about the management of Long Draw Reservoir and requirements to restore the native greenback cutthroat trout in the reservoir and surrounding streams.

Long Draw Reservoir sits below the east side of the Continental Divide, about 35 miles west of Fort Collins in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. Some of its water comes from the Western Slope via the Grand River Ditch, which traverses a section of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Water from the reservoir is released into La Poudre Pass Creek, a tributary to the Poudre River. The water goes toward downstream agricultural and municipal uses. The reservoir was built in 1929 and expanded in 1974.

That 53-acre expansion was the root cause of the ensuing fight. The original 300-acre reservoir was permitted under a permanent easement, said Dennis Harmon, general manager of the irrigation company: The expansion required a separate, renewable easement and permit.

In 1994, Trout Unlimited sued the Forest Service over an Environmental Impact Statement for the permit that would have allowed La Poudre Pass Creek to be dry during the winter.

In 2004, a U.S. District Court threw out the permit, forcing the Forest Service to start the permitting process over and include a plan to protect trout habitat and restore the greenback cutthroat trout to the watershed.

A deal to make that happen involving Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Water Supply & Storage was reached in 2010. But the forest supervisor at the time said the irrigation company would have to be responsible for full cost of the restoration project.

That prompted another lawsuit and more years of haggling. Under the new deal, Water Supply & Storage will put $1,250,000 into a trust that will pay for the restoration program.

Trout Unlimited will be the trustee. It will work closely with the Forest Service, the National Park Service and Colorado agencies to implement the largest trout restoration project in state history.

The work will entail building barriers in the reservoir and more than 40 miles of streams to block out non-native fish species. Once non-native fish are eliminated section-section from streams, the waters will be restocked with greenback cutthroat trout.

The project is likely to last more than 10 years, said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. It could cost more than the earmarked $1,250,000, he said, but fundraising and in-kind donations from volunteers and government entities should help get the work done.

Water Supply & Storage is glad to have the matter settled after so many years, Harmon said. It wound up with a 30-year easement agreement to continue managing the reservoir.

He declined to say how much the company paid in legal fees.

Nickum said the restoration work will be challenging, especially given the limitations on equipment that may be used inside designated wilderness areas. But it will be worthwhile for the environment and people who enjoy fishing.

And the greenback cutthroat trout – the Colorado state fish and a threatened species – will be back in it home waters.

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

@COHighLineCanal: High Line Canal Community Vision Plan reveal Today

Celebration and tree planting acknowledge multi-jurisdictional
endorsement and launch membership program

Who: District 4 Councilwoman Kendra Black, Denver; Nina Beardsley Itin, High Line Canal Conservancy Board Chair; Chris Castilian, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Executive Director; and Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO.

What: A press conference with Jim Lochhead and other dignitaries marks the completion of the first phase of planning for the High Line Canal – a critical first step to ensuring a vibrant future for the 71-mile recreational and ecological corridor. The vision has been endorsed by Denver Water and all 10 jurisdictions along the Canal’s reach – Arapahoe County, City of Aurora, City of Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, Greenwood Village, High Line Canal Conservancy, Highlands Ranch Metro District, City of Littleton, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District.

Following the press conference, Jim Lochhead, along with key elected officials, will plant a tree and reveal a stone engraved with the community-driven vision statement to be placed along the Canal.

Anyone can participate throughout the event on social media by following @COHighLineCanal and using the hashtag #71Miles.

Where: Mamie D Eisenhower Park (east end) and High Line Canal, 4300 Dartmouth Ave, Denver, CO 80222

When: Friday, April 28, 2017
9:30 am – 9:50: Press conference
9:50 am: Stone reveal and tree planting
10:00 am: Celebration

Why: Tackling the challenges of a growing region requires different ways of thinking, increased collaboration and new types of partnerships. The Community Vision Plan for the High Line Canal represents a model of regional cooperation – led by an effective partnership between the High Line Canal Conservancy, Denver Water and representatives from every jurisdiction actively and eagerly “at the table.” Thousands of community members actively participated in the writing of the Vision Plan, helping to shape the next 100 years for the beloved regional greenway.

While the vision planning initiative was the public’s first real opportunity to engage with planning for the future of the Canal, the community’s voice and support moving forward is arguably even more important. The event will mark the soft launch of the High Line Canal Conservancy’s membership drive, an important next step for the public’s engagement.
BE A HIGH LINE HERO. Joinhighlinecanal.org


The High Line Canal Conservancy was formed in 2014 by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal. With support from each jurisdiction and in partnership with Denver Water, the Conservancy is connecting stakeholders in support of comprehensive planning to ensure that the Canal is protected and enhanced for future generations. The Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

Learn more about the Conservancy and planning initiative here: highlinecanal.org

#Colorado Springs: Flood mitigation and restoration on Camp Creek

Camp Creek channel via City of Colorado Springs

From KOAA.com (Zach Thaxton):

A group of around a half dozen southeastern Colorado water and wildlife leaders toured Phase One of a three-phase improvement project on flood-damaged Camp Creek in Garden of the Gods Wednesday. The tour was part of the two-day Arkansas Valley River Basin Water Forum, happening in Colorado Springs. The group observed part of the Camp Creek Stream Stabilization Project, which was completed last fall as Phase one of the Camp Creek Drainage Improvement Project.

“They’re protecting the channel and providing storage for stormwater, so that will benefit the community down below,” said Gary Bostrom with the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District. The $1 million project is designed to channel floodwater coming out of Queens Canyon, ravaged during 2012’s Waldo Canyon Fire, through Garden of the Gods and into the Camp Creek channel along 31st Street in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood. Flooding in 2015 spread coarse sediment through the northern section of the park, destroying trails.

Phase Two of the project is construction of an $8.5 million detention basin below The Navigators. “The detention facility is a huge part of holding back flows and making the lower reach much more safe,” said Richard Mulledy, Water Resources Engineering Division manager for the City of Colorado Springs. Construction on the basin is set to begin in late 2017 following the conclusion of monsoon season.

Phase Three includes rebuilding of the 31st Street channel and making landscaping improvements and adding sidewalks and bicycle paths. View details of the entire project HERE.

BLM accepting comments on Upper #ColoradoRiver management #COriver

Gore Canyon rafting via Blogspot.com

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Land Management:

The Bureau of Land Management seeks public input as it begins updating a management plan for about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge.

The Recreation Area Management Plan update will guide the specific management of the Upper Colorado River Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) within the Kremmling Field Office, an extremely popular area for commercial and private float-boating and fishing. More than 90,000 people visit the area each year.

“The original management plan for the area dates back to 2000, and a lot has changed since then,” said BLM Kremmling Field Manager Stephanie Odell. “We want to hear what the public would like us to address – things like ways to reduce crowding and user conflicts, potentially improving facilities, balancing use with conserving the natural resources of the area, or any other issues.”

The BLM is hosting three public open house meetings to answer questions and accept written comments:

• April 18 from 4-6 p.m. in Silverthorne at the Summit County Library, 651 Center Circle

• April 20 from 4-6 p.m. in Kremmling at the CSU Extension Hall, 210 11th St.

• April 21 from 6-8 p.m. in Denver at the REI Flagship Store, 1416 Platte St.

The BLM Kremmling Field Office collected more than $220,000 in commercial and recreation fees from the Upper Colorado River SRMA last year. These funds are used to manage the SRMA. Recreation on BLM lands in the Kremmling Field Office supports an estimated 280 jobs generating $8.4 million in labor income annually.

More information about the management plan update is available at: http://bit.ly/2obaSen

Comments must be received by May 15 and may be e-mailed to blm_co_kr_webmail@blm.gov or mailed to Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Shane Dittlinger, P.O. Box 68, Kremmling, CO 80459.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Glenwood Springs scores $200,000 from @EPA brownfield fund

Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

Glenwood was named as one of 19 recipients of an EPA Brownfield Area-Wide Planning Grant.

The grant will be used to develop a plan to revitalize so-called “brownfields” located in the area where the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers come together, including the city’s 5-acre former sewer plant property that was decommissioned several years ago.

Also included in the planning area is the Colorado Department of Transportation 5-acre facility across Devereux Road from Two Rivers Park, and the 27.4-acre Holly Quarry site below the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park that has been eyed by the Caverns owners for a hotel development.

The grant is intended to help the city create a strategy to tie together the confluence redevelopment, Two Rivers Park, the Sixth Street corridor master plan and the Seventh Street beautification project following the completion of the new Grand Avenue bridge…

Also participating in the planning process will be the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association, the nonprofit Community Builders, Colorado Brownfields Partnership, Colorado Mountain College, GlenX and Super School, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and other stakeholders…

Finally, the EPA grant will also help the city carry out its plan to restore the Colorado River shoreline at Two Rivers Park. Plans include interpretive signs, gathering spaces and landscaping.