#GlenwoodSprings close to securing rights for new #whitewater parks — @AspenJournalism #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Upstream view of the Colorado River at the mouth of the Roaring fork River

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

The city of Glenwood Springs has paddled around the last of several big obstacles in its way to obtaining water rights for three potential whitewater parks in the Colorado River, at Two Rivers Park, Horseshoe Bend and No Name.

While final approvals are not expected from various entities until late January, the city’s water attorney, Mark Hamilton of Holland and Hart, told a state agency last week that general agreement in the water court case was at hand.

The proposed water rights are for “boating, rafting, kayaking, tubing, floating, canoeing, paddling and all other non-motorized recreational uses.”

Glenwood Springs made the crux move in its five-year journey on Wednesday, when Aurora and Colorado Springs signed off on a “call reduction provision” in the city’s proposed water rights decree.

The provision carves out 30,000 acre-feet from the city’s proposed 2013 water right to allow for future upstream transmountain diversions by the Front Range cities. Glenwood Springs had earlier offered a 20,000 acre-foot carve-out provision.

The city made another key maneuver on Thursday, when the directors of the Colorado Water Conservation Board agreed to amend a negative 2015 finding on the city’s water rights application, and agreed to settle with the city in water court.

“Forgive us for being cautious and careful and slow,” said Russ George, who represents the Colorado River basin at CWCB. “This one is not an ordinary [Recreational In-Channel Diversion]. It has its own complications, and overall it had become just a tricky, thorny, complicated project.”

It was also announced Thursday that the Colorado River District and the town of Gypsum support the settlement in concept and are working on final approvals.

The Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, upstream of Glenwood Springs. Colorado Water Parks and Wildlife has let the City of Glenwood Springs know that this is their least favorite of three potential whitewater parks the city is pursuing water rights for, due to the use of the area by bighorn sheep. Photo credit: Aspen Journalism/Brent Gardner-Smith

Horseshoe Bend lowest priority

Under the settlement, Glenwood Springs has agreed to consult with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on the location, size, design and construction at the three prospective whitewater park sites, including giving Horseshoe Bend the lowest priority of the three locations because of bighorn sheep in the area.

“Horseshoe Bend kind of sits in third position for a variety of reasons,” Jay Skinner, an instream flow specialist for CPW, told the CWCB directors on Thursday. “It certainly is our least favorite of the three sites.”

The Two Rivers Park location is just downstream from central Glenwood Springs, and just above a busy boat ramp at the park.

Horseshoe Bend and No Name are not far upstream from downtown in Glenwood Canyon. They are on a Class II stretch of river below the Class III-to-Class IV Shoshone run. The highway is separated from the river at Horseshoe Bend, and there is an I-70 rest stop next to the river at No Name.

The city has previously obtained settlements in the water court case from BLM, CDOT, Denver Water, Ute Water Conservancy District, Grand Valley Water Users Association, West Divide Water Conservancy District and the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Pool.

“This ends three years of really intense negotiations and collaborations with the applicant (Glenwood Springs) and a lot of work finding compromise and middle ground on this,” Pat Wells, general manager of water resources and demand management at Colorado Springs Utilities, told the CWCB Thursday.

Aurora and Colorado Springs, as partners in the Homestake storage and diversion project, have a high interest in the city’s claims for flow levels in the Colorado River, as they now intend to build a dam and reservoir on lower Homestake Creek as part of the “Eagle River MOU” project, according to an October report from the attorney of the Colorado River District to the district’s board.

That project includes diverting 20,000 acre-feet of additional water under the Continental Divide from the upper Eagle River basin. It also includes diverting 10,000 acre-feet of water for Western Slope uses.

In 2012, the two cities told federal officials “as much as 86,400 acre-feet of water supplies may be developed by completion of the Homestake Project.”

As such, Aurora and Colorado Springs wanted some protection from Glenwood Springs’ pending water right, which would carry a priority date of 2013.

The Colorado River at No Name, above Glenwood Springs, and just off of I-70 near the No Name rest stop. This is one of three sites where the City of Glenwood Springs is pursuing water rights for a potential whitewater park. Photo credit: Aspen Journalism/Brent Gardner-Smith

Protects flows

The city’s water right would span 183 days, from April 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

For 137 of those days, the water right calls for a steady flow 1,250 cubic feet per second, which is the same level of flow that the senior Shoshone hydropower right can call for on the river, above the proposed whitewater parks.

So, for the bulk of the time, the Glenwood’s new water right would make no difference on the river, as it is in the shadow of Shoshone.

But the city wants to step out of that shadow and call for 2,500 cfs of water for 46 days, from June 8 to July 23. And it could call for 4,000 cfs of flow on five days around the Fourth of July, in order to hold competitive boating events.

It is in the 46-day high-flow period when the carve-out will kick in, and reduce by about 25 percent the amount of water the city was pursuing.

“It does limit, significantly, the amount of time that this water right is going to be able to call,” Rob Harris, an attorney representing both Western Resource Advocates and American Whitewater, in support of Glenwood Springs, told the CWCB. “But frankly, that’s the nature of compromise.”

Harris said the remaining flow levels in the river still work for the whitewater parks.

“These are the proper flow rates,” he said. “These rates are the rates that stakeholders in the city and in the community have asked for, and balancing that with this carve out is appropriate.”

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism covers rivers and water in collaboration with The Aspen Times, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, and other Swift newspapers. Both the Times and the Post published this story on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

City of Glenwood Springs proposed whitewater parks via Aspen Journalism

#Runoff news: High elevation #snowpack and transmountain water should keep #ArkansasRiver mainstem streamflow adequate for boating season

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

“Much of the state experienced lower-than-average snowfall and snowpack,” said Rob White, park manager for the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area which encompasses the Arkansas River from Lake County to Lake Pueblo.

“Luckily, the Upper Arkansas River Valley and the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project area received some of the best snow in the state. This means there should be plenty of water for rafters, kayakers, anglers and all the people who enjoy the Arkansas River,” he said.

Whitewater enthusiasts, who make the Arkansas River the most rafted river in the state, received more good news this week from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages flows in the river.

The bureau’s May forecast regarding the availability of water for releases in July and August indicates a minimum of 10,000 acre-feet of water will be available for recreational purposes.

As part of the Voluntary Flow Management Program, the bureau will use the water to help maintain flows of at least 700 cubic feet per second from July 1 to Aug. 15 which is the peak of the summer vacation season.

That flow gives the river enough volume to ensure plenty of exciting whitewater rapids for both adrenaline junkies and those seeking a calmer family adventure…

Last year, close to 50 different commercial outfitters along the Arkansas River provided trips for more than 223,00 guests who tested the mild to wild waters of the Arkansas through Pine Creek, the Numbers, Browns Canyon National Monument, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge. That is big business for the Upper Arkansas River Valley, resulting in $29 million in direct expenditures and an overall economic impact of $74.4 million, according to the annual report complied for Colorado River Outfitters Association.

“The Arkansas continues to be the most popular river in Colorado with a market share of 38.6 percent of all Colorado rafting use. Market share on the Arkansas has been declining, however, primarily due to increased use on Clear Creek and the Upper Colorado,” the report said…

For more information, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea.

2018 #COleg: Governor Hickenlooper signs SB18-066 (Extend Operation Of State Lottery Division)

The upper Colorado River, above State Bridge. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From Governor Hickenlooper’s office via The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-066 into law Monday, reauthorizing the Colorado Lottery through 2049.

“The Colorado Lottery is the only lottery in the nation that commits nearly all of its yearly proceeds to outdoor recreation or habitat and wildlife conservation,” Michael Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, said in a press release. “Coloradans can rest assured that their lottery game spending will continue to support the incredible resources that make our state so special, including supporting the capital needs of our state’s great school systems.”

According to the release, in the last five fiscal years, the lottery has distributed more than $670 million to its four beneficiaries — the Conservation Trust Fund, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado and the Building Excellent Schools Today program.

Since its start in 1983 through fiscal year 2017, the Colorado Lottery has returned to more than $3.1 billion to its beneficiaries.

The money is distributed 50 percent to the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, 40 percent to the Conservation Trust Fund, and 10 percent to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. GOCO funds in fiscal year 2018 are capped at $66.2 million and funds that exceed the cap will go to the Colorado Department of Education’s Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund, according to the lottery website.

The current structure of the primary lottery beneficiaries has been in place since 1992, when the people of Colorado voted to the amend the Colorado constitution and create the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund.

Lottery funds have been used to create and restore hundreds of miles of trails, protect hundreds of miles of rivers, create thousands of jobs, add thousands of acres to the state parks system, create more than 1,000 parks and recreation areas, and protect over 1 million acres of land.

Under a reauthorization passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2002, the Lottery division was extended 15 years from 2009 to 2024. The new bill adds 25 years, authorizing the lottery until 2049.

To learn more about where the funds go, visit http://coloradolottery.com/en/about/giving-back.

Pagosa Springs councillors approve seventh whitewater feature on the San Juan River

San Juan River from Wolf Creek Pass

From The Pagosa Sun (Marshall Dunham):

On Jan. 18, the Pagosa Springs Town Council unanimously voted to engage Wolf Creek Ski Area and Riverbend Engineering to complete a seventh whitewater feature on the San Juan River.

“Over the past several years, Wolf Creek Ski Area has donated heavy equipment and operators to build six of the seven whitewater features that were planned out many years ago through public input,” explained Town Manager Andrea Phillips to the council. “At this time, they are able and ready to complete the last feature, which is between the 1st Street bridge and Cotton Hole.”

Phillips stated that the feature would provide challenging condi- tions to kayakers and tubers.

She added that the project would involve concrete as well as stone work.

“In the past, the ski area has donated a lot of the equipment and the operators. The town’s covered the fuel costs as well as a pumper truck,” Phillips said. “This go around, the ski area is not able to provide as much of a donation as they have in the past. They’re still providing operators and assisting us with maintenance on our existing items and providing some of the equipment. However, they are asking for the town to step
up a bit more than we have on this other feature.”

Phillips went on to explain that $10,000 for construction manage- ment would be allotted, and that it would go to Riverbend Engineering.

Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers program Basalt Whitewater Park forum recap

Proposed Basalt whitewater park via the Aspen Daily News

From The Aspen Daily News ( M. John Fayhee):

From the get-go, the Basalt Whitewater Park was a balancing act designed to simultaneously enhance the riparian habitat of the Roaring Fork River, slow the flow of runoff, give anglers the opportunity to match wits with fish and provide kayakers and rafters with a means by which they could get their adrenal glands pumping.

While people seem to appreciate the effort, opinions expressed at a forum organized Tuesday evening by Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers program indicated there is work yet to be done.

The forum, which took place at the Basalt Library, brought together about 30 river enthusiasts covering the recreational gamut from fisherpeople to hard-core kayakers to boaters with a more recreational bent.

The consensus seemed to be that the engineers who did the work throughout last winter need to fine tune their efforts.

“It is more rowdy that we had hoped,” said Quinn Donnelly, a river engineer with Carbondale-based River Restoration, the company that designed and constructed the $800,000 whitewater park.

According to Donnelly, the park functioned at its best when the water levels went down from their peak of about 3,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) on June 19.

“At about 700 cfs, the flows worked really well for a wide range of skills,” Donnelly said.

But, when those water levels were higher, spam was definitely hitting the fan.

While Donnelly said the upper feature was classified at about Class-3 during the height of runoff, people in the audience begged to differ. One person speculated that the upper feature was closer to class-4, while another said it nudged up to class-5.

Several members of the audience related takes about spending significant time upside-down and bouncing off boulders while attempting to navigate the man-made rapids.

Designers busy enhancing Arkansas River features through Cañon City

Cañon City via DowntownCanonCity.com.

From The Cañon City Daily Record (Carie Canterbury):

The plan focuses on the whitewater park between First and Fourth streets, which is a small part of the overall Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan, which also meshes with the Centennial Park Master Plan.

The overall goal is river beautification by removing concrete debris and other hazardous materials from the site and then recreational and habitat enhancements, said Nathan Werner, a designer and engineer with S2O Design.

“For recreation, we are creating structures that give the river more character to create more eddies and pools for in-stream users,” he said. “Random boulders and jetties create this recreational enhancement, but they also create fish habitat.”

Right now the river is largely just uniform with not a lot of velocity breaks, Werner said, so designers are creating a more diverse river.

The estimated cost of this multi-user, multi-use project is about $700,000, half of which is expected to be funded through a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, said Will Colon, who spearheaded the fundraising and creation of the Whitewater Kayak & Recreation Park. The park, built at a cost of about $450,000, also includes a feature near Black Bridge. The annual Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival since 2010 helps to fund improvements on the river…

Construction is expected to begin in the fall and winter of 2018, making the area usable in the spring of 2019.