Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
I don’t care what your political persuasion is…if you’re a fly fisher, this should concern you, because any threat to habitat is a threat to opportunity. – Kirk Deeter, Field and Stream
Need to get a good sense of your chapter’s attendance for the Redstone Spring Rendezvous, April 11 – 14 in Redstone Colorado. We are trying to gauge what level of experience (have members attending been to the event before, or are they new) who will be there, so that we can structure the event accordingly.
Please email Steve Craig or David Nickum with who from your chapter is going to be there, and if they have been there before or not as soon as you can find out. It will really help the planning process.
The potential recreational and environmental effects of the planned Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs will be the topic under discussion at the March 13 meeting of Trout Unlimited in Pueblo. Drew Peternell, Colorado Trout Unlimited’s lawyer and the Director of the Colorado Water Project, will address concerns about the pipeline as it is currently presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. See Southern Delivery System EIS. This is an important meeting to the future of recreation on the AK River through Pueblo! Please attend, if at all possible!
THURSDAY, March 13, 7:00 p.m.
Jones-Healy Realty, 119 W. 6th, Pueblo
Everyone welcome – FREE to the public.
Donate a raffle item to defray chapter expenses
He says he will opt for “modifications” of the plan – sure to rattle business interests or activists.
Article Last Updated: 12/07/2007 12:45:47 AM MST
Gov. Bill Ritter said Thursday that it’s unlikely he will recommend a “wholesale” adoption of the federal drilling plan for the Roan Plateau.
“Our recommendations will be a modification, or some may say a departure,” said Ritter, who is nearing the end of a 120-day review of the Bureau of Land Management’s drilling proposal. “I’ve never been a person opposed to drilling on the Roan. But we need to make sure any modifications are environmentally sound and we maximize the economic benefit to the state.”
No matter what recommendations the first-term governor suggests, he faces a no-win situation, some say. By taking a position, he will probably infuriate either a core constituency, such as environmentalists, or hefty business interests, which are already angry about some of Ritter’s recent decisions.
If he’s seen as too eager to allow drilling, he also could alienate those who regularly use the area for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Many of them, and other Western Slope voters, lean Republican but played a critical role in Ritter’s win last year.
Additionally, the governor has to find a way to balance the concerns of powerful leaders in his own party, such as U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who is trying to stall drilling on the Roan for a year.
For all the risk, the payoff may be small. The governor’s recommendations aren’t legally binding and have questionable influence. In the end, the decision is solely controlled by the federal government.
“He is really walking a tightrope,” said John Redifer, a political science professor at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. “I don’t know where he stands to gain much in any decision he makes.”
Ritter, however, says his recommendations are not guided by special-interest groups and his concerns aren’t focused on possible political fallout.
“The question is how does the state protect a pristine place and, at same time, extract resources that can have economic benefit to the state?” Ritter said.
And while the governor acknowledges the federal government doesn’t have to heed his suggestions, he said he’s had a number of conversations with the Interior Department and believes that officials there will take his recommendations seriously.
Years of negotiations
The 52,000-acre development plan, announced in June, was hammered out by the BLM and the state’s Natural Resources Department after years of negotiations. It limits drilling operations to no more than 1 percent of the plateau’s surface land at any given time and requires that area to be restored before a new area can be drilled. Additionally, half the public lands on the plateau must be free of roads, drilling and pipelines.
After some political wrangling by Salazar last summer, Ritter was granted 120 days by the Interior Department to review the plan.
The plan’s 1 percent drilling requirement irked the oil and gas industry, which has a $23 billion economic impact on the state, according to the Colorado Energy Research Institute. However, that is a better alternative than a recommendation from the governor that may further limit drilling.
“If that happens, there will be a continued negative political chill out there that gives companies pause as to whether they want to justify multibillion-dollar investments in projects,” said Greg Schnacke, president of Americans for American Energy, which advocates for domestic drilling.
Environmentalists and recreation users are upset with the plan released in June because it permits drilling atop the Roan. Many advocate horizontal drilling from remote locations to avoid disturbing the surface. The energy industry contends horizontal drilling is much more costly and not perfected.
More protections urged
“It would be a missed opportunity if the governor does not push further for more balanced oil and gas drilling,” said Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
On Thursday, a group of Democratic state lawmakers sent Ritter a letter asking that he recommend more protections for wildlife and the environment, as well as a ban on surface drilling.
However, the latter is a deal-breaker for some Republican lawmakers who see drilling atop the Roan as a way to generate millions of dollars for health care, transportation and education.
“If the governor supports a balanced approach to energy production on the Roan, we will sing his praises on the Capitol steps,” said Republican state Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction. “If he doesn’t go along with drilling on top of the Roan, we will continually remind him of the millions of dollars he walked away from that the state needs.”
Although Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar added an amendment to the energy bill that would have banned surface drilling, it was left out of the House energy bill approved Thursday.
Ken Salazar says he will seek a one-year moratorium on Roan drilling in the Senate, but that will probably not occur until next year.
Even if the BLM plan goes forward, it will take anywhere from “several months to a year” for the lease sales to go through, said BLM spokesman Jim Sample.
By Cory Hatch December 6, 2007
A survey of scientific studies on climate change and fish shows that Western populations of trout could diminish by as much as 60 percent as water warms, bugs disappear and droughts become more prevalent.
The report, compiled by Trout Unlimited, looks at the effects of climate change on trout and salmon habitat across the country. The report also suggests ways to make habitat more resilient to threats associated with a predicted 2 to 10 degree global temperature increase during the next 100 years.
Jack Williams, chief scientist for Trout Unlimited, said trout and salmon are good indicators of ecosystem health because they require cold, clean water for spawning, egg survival and rearing of young.
“We’re already seeing the effects of climate change,” said Williams, who pointed out that mayflies, an important food source for trout, are starting to emerge at an earlier time of year. “We’ve got a lot of trout populations that are poised to lose about half of their range.”
In addition to warmer water and impacts on insects, Williams said, climate change could mean greater floods, reduced snowpack, earlier runoffs, more wildfires and increased insect infestations in forests, all of which can hurt trout populations.
Bob Gresswell, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, studies cutthroat trout in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including one project below Jackson Lake Dam. Gresswell says trout across the West are so susceptible to climate change because development and irrigation pressures have already pushed populations into more isolated, high-elevation streams.
Further, humans have introduced non-native fish such as rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout and brown trout into cutthroat trout ecosystems, increasing the risk of hybridization and predation. Climate change could amplify the negative effects non-native fish have on trout, Gresswell said.
For instance, reproduction times for rainbow trout and cutthroat trout are somewhat isolated by the spring runoff. Cutthroat trout spawn just after the peak runoff and rainbow trout spawn just before. But with spring runoff coming earlier each year, Gresswell said, rainbow trout could eventually come to a point when they can’t spawn any earlier, and the chance of hybridization could increase.
Gresswell pointed to fish die-offs and fishing closures in Yellowstone and Montana as a probable sign that global warming is already affecting trout populations.
“I worked in the park for 17 years and we never closed the fishery even once [because of warm water],” he said.
Both Gresswell and Williams said that while it could be too late to stop climate change, it isn’t too late to make trout habitat more resilient to its effects.
“Let’s start working right now on things that we can do to our local stream systems to prepare for the kinds of impacts that we know are coming,” Williams said.
Restoration efforts include trying to reconnect larger low-elevation waterways to the smaller upper-elevation streams native trout now inhabit.
“That allows the fish to basically move around and find better habitat conditions,” Williams said.
Other ways to protect trout include removing old culverts, planting native trees and shrubs along streams to provide shade and protect stream banks, and placing logs and boulders in the stream to provide sections with deeper, cooler water.
Salmon, trout populations will be hurt by global warming, but it’s not too late to act, report statesDecember 6, 2007
December 5, 2007
Climate change will hurt trout and salmon populations, but there is still time to act before it’s too late, a report released today from Trout Unlimited states.
“Healing Troubled Waters” highlights how global warming will affect the nation’s game fish populations, stating that they are likely to decline by 50 percent or more, and some populations, such as the bull trout found in high-mountain areas in the West could be cut by as much as 90 percent.
But Congress could appropriate money in the future to find ways to help make coldwater fish populations sustainable despite the climate change, and in fact Congress is making some progress on that very issue even today, the report stated.
The complete report is available at www.tu.org/climatechange.