Coyote Gulch


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  Sunday, April 22, 2007

Udall for U.S. Senate?

Colorado Confidential: "Last week Rep. Mark Udall announced that he had formed a committee to run for the U.S. Senate in 2008, which had long been his stated intentions. Colorado Confidential has now confirmed that Udall will hire Mike Melanson as his campaign manager for a statewide run."

"denver 2008"
3:41:03 PM     

Earth Day
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Today is Earth Day. Use the day to reflect on your impact on the planet. Ask the hard questions about what you can do individually to help restore the environment. Resolve to be smarter with water throughout the year. Plant a tree.

Here's a call to action for Coloradoans from today's Denver Post. From the article, "Today, Earth Day 2007, we have announced a new coalition of conservation, sportsmen, agriculture and business groups to push for bold and dramatic action, right here in Colorado, to stem the tide of global warming. The Colorado Climate Action Network will work with scientists, policymakers and others to craft and implement a Colorado-specific strategy on climate change. The science is clear that immediate action to reduce pollution will have a big impact. By taking protective action now, we can stabilize worldwide global warming pollution in the atmosphere at nearly twice pre-industrial levels by 2050. This is the critical threshold scientists are warning we must not cross to avoid potentially irreversible effects, such as the melting of major ice sheets and dramatic rise in sea levels. To put it simply, what we do now matters. As with so many issues, bold action in Washington, D.C., on climate change has been stifled by partisan politics and a president in denial. Hopefully, compelling science and the law will bring fresh momentum to the issue. An extensive body of science documents the clear and present danger of global warming. The Supreme Court recently rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to address global warming pollution. Support for a mandatory, comprehensive, market-based solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is building inside the Beltway and real progress appears to be on the horizon."

More Earth Day coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain. They write, "The Earth needs your help. Here are four ways to help make our corner of the Earth a healthier place: Volunteer to work in national parks, national monuments and other conservation areas; Support conservation by checking out the Wilderness Society's WildAlert list of natural places; Know the score by finding out how your federal representatives vote on environmental issues; Reduce your 'carbon footprint' - the amount of carbon dioxide, CO2, one of the global-warming-causing gases, that your daily life generates from the consumption of fossil fuels."

"2008 pres"
9:54:44 AM     

? for President?

Political Wire: "Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) 'said Saturday that if she is elected president, she would make her husband a roaming ambassador to the world, using his skills to repair the nation's tattered image abroad,' according to the AP."

"2008 pres"
9:28:11 AM     

Federal water grab on the Gunnison?
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Here's an update on the looming dispute over stream flow in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "Shock and outrage over the fate of water flowing down the Gunnison River continue to echo across the Western Slope like the thunder of crashing boulders in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Three legislators met at a Grand Junction coffee shop Saturday morning to turn up the political heat on state officials who played a part in Attorney General John Suthers' filing of objections to stipulations created to resolve the fight over how much water eventually will be allowed to flow through Black Canyon National Park. Standing beside Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, and Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, minced no words Saturday: 'The funding for the Colorado Water Conservation Board projects is in the appropriations committee that I chair. That bill was up for hearing yesterday morning, and I took it off the table. And I will not allow it to be considered until such time as we get answers about why the attorney general intervened in this case that we thought was settled.'

"Buescher said he's afraid the state's primacy over its own water will erode because of Black Canyon's federal reserve water right. Western Slope legislators, he said, are united in their opposition to the objections. 'This is Colorado standing up to the federal government,' Penry said, adding that Suthers claims he was acting at the behest of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the State Water Board. Penry said the board's projects bill should be passed, but with the provision that money won't be released until Suthers withdraws his objections...

"There is much at stake. Black Canyon National Park and environmental groups won a federal court case last year with a decision that said the 300 cubic-foot-per-second minimum flow through Black Canyon settled upon in a 2003 agreement between the federal government and the state was inadequate to protect the ecological integrity of the canyon. The decision, which required the state and federal government to forge a new agreement, also said the 2003 agreement violated environmental laws and illegally disposed of federal property. But in an April 19 letter to Gov. Bill Ritter, Robert Drexel, president of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, said the park's senior water right could place a call on the Gunnison River that would 'virtually de-water the Upper Gunnison Basin,' possibly reducing the level of water in thousands of domestic wells and 75 percent of the Gunnison Basin's irrigators. 'Shock and outrage' over Suthers' objections, Drexel wrote, are 'rippling through our community.' In his objections, Suthers wrote that the stipulations, among other things, make it unclear how Black Canyon's water right should be administered, create uncertainty about the legal status of that right and require selective administration of a call from Black Canyon in favor only of Gunnison Basin water rights...

"If the federal government can get a senior water right on the Gunnison River, he said, it can do it on other Western Slope rivers, too."

"colorad water"
8:48:58 AM     

Tough times forecast for the Gunnison River this summer
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What's the water forecast for the Gunnison Basin? Here's a look from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "Hopes to fill Blue Mesa Reservoir continue to shrink with the Gunnison Basin's fast-disappearing snowpack. In an e-mail message last week from the Bureau of Reclamation's Dan Crabtree, he noted that with a snowpack hovering around 69 percent of long-term average and March precipitation only 60 percent of average, Blue Mesa isn't going to fill. 'Currently the weather pattern has cooled off somewhat and has provided some additional snow to the late seasonal total,' wrote Crabtree, noting that a warm March led to an early snowmelt and water poured into Blue Mesa at 156 percent of average. '(H)owever,' Crabtree continues, 'the snowpack has probably already peaked and it looks as though the basin will be much drier than normal this runoff season.'

"According to the Bureau of Reclamation's latest Water Supply Forecast for Water Year 2007, unregulated inflow into Blue Mesa from all groundwater sources is forecast at a meager 64 percent of normal. Demands from the Uncompahgre Valley irrigators are sure to increase as they get further into the growing season, and until they reach their maximum allotment of 1,100 cfs, there won't be a lot of water available for the Gunnison River. The flows below the tunnel may change, but it's not likely there will be major bump up since there isn't expected to be much of a late runoff surge. All of which means Blue Mesa likely won't fill and there are some tough times ahead for the Gunnison River and those who love it."

"colorado water"
8:30:30 AM     

Energy policy: Oil and gas development
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Here's a look at the changing attitudes towards oil and gas development from the Denver Post. From the article, "Legislators in Western states are reacting to constituents' complaints about the impacts of oil and gas drilling. The major impetus for these efforts has been split estates, a common situation where mineral rights have been severed from the surface and are owned by someone else. Laws have historically favored mineral owners' rights to use the surface. However, a spate of recent bills in different states is trying to protect the surface owner.

"New Mexico's newly enacted Surface Owner's Protection Act will be the nation's strongest when it goes into effect July 1. Unless they can reach an agreement with the surface owner, developers will be required to post a bond with the state to cover potential damages. In 2005, Wyoming was the first state to explicitly set a lower bound for efforts at communication and compensation. A key fact in both states is that developers typically offer more than the law requires. Even if a positive relationship is not possible, at least non-combative relations with the landowner are in the interests of the developer. The laws are targeted at a few bad actors who give the industry a black eye."

"Oil and gas has long been an important part of the Colorado economy. However, the natural surface amenities of Colorado are also responsible for the state's economic success. People want to enjoy clean air and water, beautiful vistas, wildlife and solitude. Many people have moved to Colorado for these reasons, bolstering the economy in the process. If we didn't also need energy, then the tradeoff wouldn't be as tough. Eroding the legal precedence that energy developers have long enjoyed is likely to raise costs and perhaps energy prices. However, the recent energy boom has spawned an insistence by residents that surface values be protected while the energy beneath is tapped. So, the legal framework is shifting toward recognizing the tradeoff as well."

"2008 pres"
8:21:00 AM     

Southern Delivery System
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Here's a status report about the proposed Southern Delivery System from the Colorado Springs Gazette. They write, "Eleven years and $59.6 million after the city settled on a plan to build a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, the project remains just that, a plan. Not one leg of the 43-mile line has been laid, a reservoir hasn't been built and the water treatment plant is still a vision. Many Colorado water projects have been planned, but few have been built since a wave of environmental laws went on the books in the early 1970s. Add to that the increasing competition among cities, and it seems hard to assume Colorado Springs' Southern Delivery System will leave the drawing board. Substantial roadblocks have stymied the city's effort to bring 78 million gallons a day of water it owns from Pueblo Dam.

"Among them: A far-reaching environmental study that began in 2003; Legal battles triggered by opposition from Pueblo County commissioners; Negotiations to acquire land for the pipeline from Pueblo Dam to northeast Colorado Springs and a reservoir...

"SDS, as the project is called, would be built in two phases. Utilities officials say the first is needed by 2012; estimated cost: $623 million in 2007 dollars for pipe, pump stations, a treatment plant and distribution lines capable of moving 50 million gallons a day. The second phase, estimated at up to $500 million, includes a storage reservoir, return flow reservoir and expanded treatment capacity to accommodate another 180 million gallons a day. Officials insist they'll deliver water when it's needed, but they're reluctant to pin down a date when SDS will be on line and have no other options for delivering a large amount of water in the meantime...

"The project takes no water from the West Slope, envisions no dam on a river and no endangered species have surfaced. But it does propose to draw water from the Bureau of Reclamation-owned Pueblo Dam. The dam is part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas project to which El Paso County residents have contributed by far the most of any county -- $65 million in property taxes in the past 47 years. The bureau's environmental review has been exhaustive. 'We've had thousands of components involved in hundreds of configurations,' bureau spokeswoman Kara Lamb said. After holding public meetings as far away as Buena Vista and La Junta, the bureau narrowed the pool to seven alternatives that bring water from the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs -- six via a pipeline adjacent to Interstate 25 and one with a pipeline along Colorado Highway 115. The bureau might add an eighth option -- 100 percent recycling and reclamation. The bureau is expected to issue a draft environmental impact statement late this year; a public comment period will follow...

"What Colorado Springs wants to do is lay pipe from the dam across Pueblo County, but a standoff has developed because of the other action that wasn't a factor 33 years ago. In 1974, the Legislature adopted House Bill 1041, empowering counties to establish regulations for 'areas and activities of state interest,' including municipal water and wastewater facilities. Eagle County imposed stringent 1041 rules that forced Utilities to abandon its effort to add a collection project to its Homestake system. Now, Pueblo County commissioners are poised to do the same to SDS. Pueblo County's 1041 rules were adopted soon after the bill was enacted and remained unchanged until 2005, when they were revised to make it more difficult for a pipeline project to be permitted, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said. Commissioner Loretta Kennedy disagreed the rules are oppressive...

"Aggravating the situation are Colorado Springs' chronic sewage spills into Fountain Creek, which joins the Arkansas River near downtown Pueblo. Pueblo commissioners and other residents are concerned any plan to infuse more water into the Springs system guarantees more water flushed into the creek, further polluting and eroding it. Colorado Springs has a court case pending that seeks an exemption from Pueblo's 1041 regulations and argues the matter should be decided by an El Paso County District judge because most of the pipeline will lie in El Paso County, not Pueblo County. The state Supreme Court disagreed, sending the matter to Pueblo District Court, which will decide if the 1041 rules apply to the city's project. Further complicating matters is a bill recently introduced by Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., that calls for a socioeconomic environmental impact study of water transfers from the Arkansas Basin before Pueblo Reservoir can be expanded. The bill may go nowhere, but Utilities thinks it undermines efforts to strike deals with lower basin water users where the city wants to marshal support for SDS...

"If and when approvals are obtained for SDS, the city would face the task of patching together right of way for the pipeline and acquiring land for a storage reservoir. For storage, the city has two options -- Upper Williams Creek southeast of town, which is owned by the state and a half-dozen citizens, and Jimmy Camp Creek in the northeast part of the city. The preferred site is Jimmy Camp Creek. The city paid $6.4 million for 400 Jimmy Camp acres from 2003 to 2005 in deals so controversial they triggered a rewrite of the city's real estate acquisition procedures. The remaining 1,400 acres are owned by Banning Lewis Ranch Management Co. The company, which has escorted council members on tours to explain the land's value, reportedly wants $150,000 an acre, or $210 million, the land's purported value 20 years from now. Utilities officials plan to hire a land firm within the next month to handle land acquisitions. That will consume part of the $9.7 million the city plans to spend this year on SDS."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
7:53:50 AM     

Crystal River Races
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Here's a short report about yesterday's Crystal River Races, from the Glenwood Springs Post Independent "reg".

"colorado water"
7:28:51 AM     

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