Boulder Creek gets massive makeover for fish habitat

April 29, 2009

Boulder Daily Camera

By Laura Snider (Contact)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

— As David Blauch stepped closer to the creek, he saw a couple of shadows dart under the eave of a big rock.

“That’s exactly what you want,” he said, pointing to the trout he’d just frightened into the shadows.

The massive rock now sitting in Boulder Creek, parting the frigid waters and creating an eddy of still water where a trout can hide, is new to the stream. Just a week ago, this section of the creek near the top of Boulder Canyon ran wide and shallow, with uniform ripples stretching for a half mile with barely a boulder in sight.

“All the larger rocks are placed to increase habitat,” said Blauch, vice president and senior ecologist for Ecological Resource Consultants in Boulder.

The $234,000 restoration project is the result of three years of hard work by Boulder Flycasters, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, to create a fish-friendly section of stream with stable banks, better recreational access and environmental education opportunities.

Salazar Seeks to Vacate Bush-Era Mining Rule

April 28, 2009

  By Juliet Eilperin

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar instructed the Justice Department yesterday to seek a court order to overturn a Bush administration regulation allowing mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams, calling the regulation “legally defective.”  Read More

Surge of water projects show little coordination

April 27, 2009
Some plans overlap rivers as federal officials worry about the potential impacts.

By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post

A $3 billion scrum of water projects is being developed along the Front Range — but their cumulative impacts, and whether there is water enough for all, remains to be sorted out.

Still, from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, the projects are moving forward, powered, attorneys and water managers say, by Colorado water law’s first-come-first-served principle.

“In water law, it is still the Wild West,” said Sarah Klahn, a water attorney and University of Denver law professor. “You can be a dreamer, and if you make it come true, it’s yours.”

The concentration of projects worries federal officials who are left to sort out the multiple impacts.

“It is the combined projects’ effect on water quality that concerns us,” said Larry Svoboda, environmental assessment director in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Denver office.

“There is also the risk of over-allocation. We really think this needs to be looked at carefully.”

“We don’t have a water plan; prior appropriation is our plan and it’s every man for himself,” said Melinda Kassen, a director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water project.

A volunteer group for every animal

April 27, 2009


Grand Junction Sentinel

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Of the many conservation groups I’ve been associated with or written about in my 25-plus years of covering outdoor causes and issues, none stand out as much as Trout Unlimited.

Sportsmen Urge USDA Intervention in Colorado Roadless Plan

April 24, 2009

From Fly Rod & Reel Online:

“To favorably resolve the Colorado rule, its problems must be addressed so that roadless area characteristics are conserved at a level comparable to the national roadless rule,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado TU. “Our groups want to conserve roadless values in the places where Americans hunt and fish – and ensure that our backcountry traditions are upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

Durango river steward honored

April 23, 2009

Durango Telegraph

One of Durango’s leading river stewards received national recognition last week. Ty Churchwell, of the Five Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, was recognized as Colorado Trout Unlimited’s 2009 Volunteer of the Year last weekend at the group’s Spring Rendezvous.

Churchwell commented that he volunteers out of a sense of obligation both to the Durango community and the Animas watershed. “Those trout keep me sane and our rivers are my ‘church,’” he said. “Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of our communities, and I’m thankful Durango recognizes the value of the Animas to our community.”

The award also spotlighted the Animas River Restoration Project, which Churchwell is helping to spearhead. The City of Durango was awarded an $86,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Wildlife for habitat improvements and bank stabilization for the stretch of river between 9th Street and the Highway 160 bridge. The project, which is planned for August, is meant to improve fish habitat while restoring riparian areas along the western river bank. With the high flows and increased use of the area in recent years, a number of native cottonwoods and shrubs along the banks have disappeared, leading to further erosion and habitat damage.

“The restoration project we are doing on the Animas is symbolic of the spirit of Durango,” he said. “The great success we are experiencing at the chapter is a function of the wonderful people in Durango who come out and donate to our causes. We could not do this type of project without the people who support us.”

The Five Rivers Chapter’s upcoming annual fund-raiser is scheduled for May 2 in the Fort Lewis College Ballroom.

Gas drillers must meet water law

April 23, 2009


The state is already taking steps to comply with a state Supreme Court decision that requires gas drillers to apply for a water right or replace stream flows for their coalbed methane wells.

The decision will have implications for the Arkansas Valley, since coalbed methane wells are operating in Las Animas and Huerfano counties.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday to uphold a decision by Durango Water Court Judge Gregory Lyman. In 2007, Lyman found that the water rights of Bayfield ranchers William and Elizabeth Vance and Jim and Mary Fitzgerald were adversely affected by coalbed methane wells operated by BP Petroleum near their ranches.

Prior to the ruling, the state considered the water produced in coalbed methane or other mining operations to be wastewater, which excluded it from administration under the state’s water-rights priority system.