Upper Colorado River makes list of endangered rivers

June 3, 2010

By Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Upper Colorado River has secured a spot on America’s Most Endangered Rivers list, released today by American Rivers.

The threat of two new water diversion projects that could “sap the life from the Upper Colorado” was a main reason the river was chosen for the report’s No. 6 spot.

“The most endangered river listings get the attention of media and policy-makers,” said Randy Scholfield, spokesperson of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project. “It does help to highlight some of the threats facing these rivers and helps them get the grassroots support they need.”


Colorado & Western Water Project Notes

April 15, 2010

April 2010

WWP staff testified about the SECURE Water Act in mid-March in D.C. While in DC, staff met w/ Asst Secretary of the Interior for Water & Science, about TU’s approach to hydro. Staff also presented on SECURE at the University of Denver Water Law Review annual conference.

We had a month stocked full of meetings with both our NGO partners, consultants and the Bureau on how we’re going to get the Basin Study — and other decision making in the Basin — to incorporate some level of protection for environmental flows, and how the rest of the study is moving along. Colorado released its final water availability study for the CO R Basin in CO.

CTU had its big annual auction in Denver and national staff bought a table. Later this week, various members of the Water Project staff will be attending and making presentations at the CTU Rendezvous.

We’ve been working on responses to the Million pipeline project, which threatens Flaming Gorge fishery and other sensitive habitat: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20100406/OPINION04/4060303/Plan-has-economic-environmental-pitfalls

CWP staff submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on the proposed expansion of Denver Water’s trans-basin Moffat Collection System Project. If the expansion moves forward, cumulative depletions to the headwaters of the Fraser River and Colorado River mainstem could reach 70% to 80% of native flows. CWP staff recommended that the project not move forward unless an adaptive management plan can be agreed to by east and west slope interests.

The CWP staff also continues to provide environmental perspective on several large cooperative endeavors including the Colorado River Wild and Scenic Management Plan Alternative, Halligan Seaman Shared Vision Plan and the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation process.

The CWP staff is cooperating with the United States Forest Service, Colorado Division of Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management staffs to reconnect several headwater streams containing conservation populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout. In general, these projects involve either barrier removal (i.e., culvert removal and replacement) and/or installation of fencing to exclude cattle from the riparian areas. These projects will start back up early this spring once funding and access become available.

We are working with the Forest Service and a private contractor on preparation of an RFP seeking bids for a watershed restoration plan focusing on Colorado River cutthroat trout for the Elkhead Creek Basin.

The CWP staff and local Colorado Trout Unlimited Chapter members worked with Colorado Division of Wildlife staff to sample fish in the Eagle River. The sampling has been conducted for several years to evaluate improvements to the trout fishery attributable to past mine reclamation activities and stream habitat improvements in the Eagle River. Based on the results of this sampling effort, the trout fishery in the Eagle appears to be doing quite well with some 200 meter sample reaches holding up to 490 fish including lots of trout within the 14” to 16” range.

‘Islands of moisture’

February 22, 2010

Groups work to restore wildlife protection in wetlands

The groups support federal legislation, S.787, which was introduced last year to clarify the Corps role in enforcing the Clean Water Act, said Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation.

The bill, as introduced, would give the Corps permit authority over habitats like those of concern to the wildlife groups.

“The legislation would get regulation back to where it was,” said Steve Moyer of Trout Unlimited.


Colorado & Western Water Project Notes

December 9, 2009

December 2009

We attended a national staff communications meeting in Santa Fe, NM, and brainstormed with the group on a range of communications issues, including how to better coordinate messaging themes across programs, how to make better use of video and social media, and new ideas for the Web site and Trout magazine.

TU staff continues to provide environmental perspective on several large cooperative endeavors including the Halligan Seaman Shared Vision Plan and the Colorado River Wild and Scenic Management Plan Alternative. TU  is also continuing to evaluate and/or monitor the progress of several Environmental Impact Statements for various water development projects around the state such as the Windy Gap Firming, Denver Moffat Expansion, and Northern Integrated Supply Project. The deadline for submitting comments on Denver’s Moffat Expansion is currently set for the end of January 2010.

TU staff continues to work with state and local governments, water providers and other environmental groups to draft an Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Management Plan Alternative (MPA). Most recently, the east slope and west slope water users have been trying to finalize a concept for protecting the outstandingly remarkable recreational fishing and floatboating opportunities.

We have been working with several other conservation groups and a contractor on an analysis of the gap between water supply and demand on Colorado’s Front Range. We submitted two letters to the state – one on future water demands and the other on tools for meeting that demand.

TU staff and local chapter members are working within the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation process to negotiate winter baseflows in the South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir.

We have had several discussions with other conservation groups, the Yampa Valley Agricultural Alliance and faculty of Colorado State University about designing a study of opportunities for making irrigation water available for stream flows without requiring the complete dry-up of irrigated lands.

TU and the Forest Service completed a number of culvert removal projects in Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat in the South Fork Slater Creek basin. We will be removing a number of additional barriers in cutthroat habitat in the Elkhead Creek drainage next summer. We recently submitted a pre-proposal for an exclusionary fencing project to benefit cutthroat on the South Fork Little Snake River.

Meyers: No easy solution for fish kill

December 2, 2009

By Charlie Meyers
The Denver Post

Help may be on the way in a Denver Water plan to boost West Slope diversion through the Moffat Tunnel, boosting storage in Gross Reservoir. A companion arrangement would allow the water suppliers for the cities of Boulder and Lafayette to utilize storage in the reservoir.

The potential to use this to enhance winter flows has caught the attention of Trout Unlimited, which long has sought a solution to the South Boulder Creek puzzle.

“If we can use this increased storage to boost flows in the creek,” this would be something we could support,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Western Water Project.

But Peternell’s concern also extends to a larger matter, which is a Denver Water push to acquire more water from the upper Fraser River basin, then deliver it through the Continental Divide via its Moffat Tunnel complex.


Colorado Supreme Court clamps down on water rights

November 13, 2009
By Bob Berwyn
summit daily news

According to Drew Peternell, of Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project, the Supreme Court laid out a new test for public utilities. In the Pagosa Springs case, the court ruled that the city’s claim for water based on a 100-year planning horizon was not reasonable.

“They have to show that claim for water is based on realistic projections for population growth. They can’t just pull numbers out the air,” Peternell said.


New storage eyed as Colorado confronts more people & less water

October 20, 2009
By Allen Best
special to the Summit Daily
Representatives of environmental groups concede the need for additional storage but also call for restraint.

“There are projects that have significant adverse environmental impact that we could not support,” said Melinda Kassen, managing director of the Western Water Project for Trout Unlimited. “And there are projects that have substantially fewer environmental impacts that we can support,” she said, if mitigation measures are included.