Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

February 13, 2008

February 2008 

We gave two more presentations on the bog of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, and while it’s clear that everyone thinks the system is a mess, we do not all agree on what the fixes are, which is one reason that the Clean Water Restoration Act is not moving in the House. The courts, meanwhile, have not been uniform in their rulings, but have ruled in a way that would harm the environment in only a very few cases (most recently in the 11th Circuit regarding Avondale Creek, but early on in one case in the 9th Circuit, which has otherwise done a pretty good job). 

TU and the other parties to the Colorado water court proceedings to quantify the Black Canyon reserved water right are engaged in mediation. The court has stayed proceedings until April to allow negotiations to continue. 

TU and others from the conservation community have helped to draft a bill that would that would more closely tie land use development (growth) to sustainable water supplies. 

The water court judge in the Dry Gulch remand has ordered the parties to submit briefs outlining positions on how the case should be decided. 

We have been preparing written testimony on Bear Creek, a semi-urban trout stream in the transition of the South Platte that is going to be removed from the 303(d) list. This stream is particularly prized by the local chapter of TU who have done extensive restoration work on the stream. Our testimony focuses on the need for continued vigilance on the part of the state, especially given that the improvements that have been observed in the fishery since the stream was originally listed have been short-lived. 

We are evaluating available information on the Windy Gap Firming process in anticipation of the upcoming draft EIS. 

We will be advocating for three bills to strengthen the instream flow program in the 2008 legislative session. The press release for the bills can be found at: http://www.cotrout.org/News/MediaRoom/TULegislativeAgenda/tabid/249/Default.aspx 

We are working on sheepherding last year’s Instream Flow (ISF) proposals through the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and preparing to bring 5 more streams forward in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Wildlife at the CWCB’s February ISF workshop.

Carbondale man named to new state forest panel

February 13, 2008


Staff Report
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

February 13, 2008

CARBONDALE — Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter named Ken Neubecker, a Carbondale resident and vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited, to a newly created state group called the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council.

The multi-agency group will help “coordinate and lead efforts to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic” and other threats to forest lands in Colorado, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“Colorado’s forests are vital to our environment, to our communities, to our economy and to our overall quality of life,” Ritter said in a prepared statement. “But our forests are at risk, and one of the biggest risks is the mountain pine beetle. This epidemic has decimated more than 1.5 million acres of mature lodge-pole pines over the past decade and could wipe them out in another three to five years.”

The council will develop a short-term action plan and will address many issues, including the implementation of priorities identified in community wildfire protection plans, methods to encourage establishment of forest improvement districts, and implementation of landscape-scale stewardship projects. The council will also establish long-term strategies for sustainable forest health that will address a “state-wide vision to protect communities from fire and restore forest health,” according to the governor’s statement.

The council will report back to the governor and the legislature annually. If recommendations require legislative action, those recommendations will be submitted by Oct. 1 prior to the January start of the legislative session, according to the statement.

Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, will co-chair the council.