Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "Labor Day weekend is upon us and I wanted to give you some water level info before you head out, this weekend.

"At Carter, we have one ramp left in the water, the North Ramp. We have the pump on over the weekend so the ramp stays in the water through Labor Day. It will most likely go out of the water next week, after the holiday. The water level elevation is currently 5672.

"At Horsetooth, a little more water is going out of the reservoir than is coming in and we have a current water level elevation of 5389. All ramps are in the water except for the very south ramp in South Bay. The main five lane ramp in South Bay will remain in the water well into September, if not longer. The Inlet Bay (marina) boat ramp is still in the water and remains useable until an elevation of 5385. We anticipate it will remain in the water well into September, as well."

Green Mountain Reservoir and the Blue River: "This morning, we received a call for Green Mountain water from the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. As a result, we are bumping up releases about 40 cfs from the reservoir to the Lower Blue. This will put close to 800 cfs in the Lower Blue by this afternoon. We are anticipating that the 800 cfs in the Lower Blue will last through Labor Day weekend. Of course, changes can happen, but 800 cfs is what we are anticipating for the next several days."

And Ruedi (from August 30th): "Last night, we reduced releases by 40 cfs. There should be just under 250 cfs in the Fryingpan this morning."

"colorado water
11:48:43 AM    

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Here's an update on the die-off of aspen trees down in the San Juan National Forest, from The Cortez Journal. The research so far, hasn't identified a cause. From the article:

Up on top of Haycamp Mesa near Dolores, San Juan National Forest Supervisory Forester Mark Krabath pointed out the signs of an ailing aspen stand. "See up there, at the top," he said, pointing to a 100-foot-tall tree with no leaves at the very top. "They die from the top down," he said. "See here. The bark is coming loose," he said, pulling off the bark of a dead tree that was nearly 100 years old. And if you look down, he pointed out, few if any, aspen seedlings are popping up. That spells trouble in an aspen stand that is estimated to have about 30 percent of its trees either dead or dying. Aspen trees are not doing well in the lower elevations of Southwest Colorado, Krabath said, and the problem is getting worse. A high mortality rate in aspens was first observed about two years ago and since then foresters have been keeping a close eye on the trees and been working.

There are about 130,687 acres of aspen in the San Juan National Forest's Mancos-Dolores Ranger District, and in 2007 about 12 percent are considered dead or diseased. A few stands inventoried, mainly the lower elevation ones, have a mortality rate as high as 60 percent. Just two years ago, the average aspen tree mortality rate was 9 percent and the lower elevation stands saw as much as 40 percent mortality rate. In hopes of stopping the die-off in its tracks, foresters have been preparing about 700 acres of diseased stands for logging operations next year that will essentially clear-cut stands and hopefully give the trees a chance to rejuvenate. Loggers who do the clear-cutting will be required to leave about 10 percent to 15 percent of the trees in "wildlife clumps," Krabath said. "When you cut an aspen it releases an auxin, something similar to a hormone, that tells the roots the trees have been severed and to send up shoots," Krabath said. Aspen trees are unique in that they have a lateral root system and can send up shoots, or clones, across the distance of the system. A stand of aspen trees in Utah is said to be the largest clone in the world with nearly 47,000 trees. Cloned stands tend to leaf out at the exact same time and change colors at the same time too. If the clear-cutting works, the stands should regenerate and have trees about 6 feet tall in less than six years, Krabath said.

Although they don't know exactly what is causing the death of aspen trees, it is likely a variety of factors, one of which is drought and fire suppression. Jim Worrall, United States Forest Service Forest Health Manager, wrote in a paper recently that the aspen trees need to be managed more effectively. "Because of fire suppression, coupled with lack of aspen management until recently, the age structure regionally is strongly skewed to old stands," Worrall wrote. "Unless aspen stands are managed or subjected to natural disturbance regime, they will continue to deteriorate gradually and in most cases be replaced by conifers." While those things might contribute to the trees' demise, three things seem to be finishing them off, Worrall pointed out. Those are a canker or fungus that invades and kills the bark of weakened trees, the poplar borer and the aspen bark beetle.

Category: Colorado Water

11:36:49 AM    

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The comment period for Powertech's proposed uranium operation in Weld County has been extended by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to The Fort Collins Coloradoan. They write:

The Nuclear Regulator Commission announced today it will accept public comments about the proposed in-situ uranium mine east of Wellington until Oct. 8, according to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's office. Musgrave, a Fort Morgan Republican, sent a second letter last week expressing concern about the potential uranium mine, which is between Wellington and Nunn, and petitioned for an extended public comment period...Last week, Musgrave told NRC Chairman Dale Klein the impacts to the rural communities 'are too significant to not allow residents ample time to study the ramifications of the proposed uranium mining on their health, quality of livelihoods,' according to the news release."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

11:06:40 AM    

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Cases of Cryptosporidiosis are way up this year in Colorado, according to The Boulder Daily Camera. From the article:

Health officials last month reported about 50 cases of cryptosporidiosis -- which causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and fever. That's about four times the number of cases typically reported this time of year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In a normal year, the state gets about 12 cases in August, said Alicia Cronquist, epidemiologist with the state's public-health department...

The illness can spread from person to person or through swimming pools, lakes or streams; contaminated drinking water; or food tainted with human or animal feces. State health experts said the parasite can spread easily in homes and day-care centers.

Category: Colorado Water

10:55:09 AM    

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It's hard to guess when you'll get some good monsoon moisture in Colorado. Combine summer storms with extra releases by Northern, Denver Water and Reclamation and it all added up to a good rafting year on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, according to The Aspen Times (free registration required). From the article:

"It seems like what's happening isn't been what we've been expecting," said Susi Larson, a partner in Whitewater Rafting LLC in Glenwood Springs. In fact, flows have been higher than average in August, she said. "There have been some great rains that have bolstered the flows. Mother Nature has been generous," said Jim Pokrandt, spokesman for the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District.

Pokrandt said the moisture in higher elevations reduced the need for those entities to dip into their reservoirs to maintain river flows. "Nobody had to go too deep because the rains saved us," he said. The groups had agreed to shoot for flows of 1,200 cubic feet per second in Glenwood Canyon through Labor Day and 810 cfs for endangered fish through October.

Enough additional rain, combined with water releases for the endangered fish and for irrigators in the Grand Junction area with senior water rights, could be sufficient to meet rafting outfitters' needs through the end of the season. Today, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is scheduled to begin releasing from Lake Granby for those irrigators and the endangered fish. The releases, which eventually will total 1,000 acre feet, also are intended to bolster flows in the upper reaches of the Colorado River, Pokrandt said. Denver Water and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation also agreed to participate in this summer's coordinated releases to offset the loss of flows from the shutdown of the Shoshone plant.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

10:28:48 AM    

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife knocked off a few thousand suckers in Summit Reservoir, according to The Cortez Journal. From the article:

Small fish and large fish floated to the surface and drifted toward the edge as the nearly 40 employees of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, dressed in protective suits and breathing masks, dumped rotenone in the reservoir - part of a plan to reclaim the reservoir from non-native fish. "It basically inhibits the fish's ability to take in oxygen," said Joe Lewandowski, public information specialist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Durango. The target was the non-native white sucker, a fish that over the years has nearly taken over the reservoir. And because they are bottom feeders, they stir up the reservoir's murky bottom, making the lake cloudy and difficult for other species to survive. But in order to kill the white sucker, all the fish in the lake needed to be killed. And that is exactly what happened Wednesday, said Jim White, aquatic biologist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

"Everything went according to plan," White said. White said when he pulled up a cage of test fish at the deepest part of the lake Thursday morning, they were dead. Lewandowski was one of a handful of people who stood on the shores of Summit Wednesday as gallons of liquid and powdered rotenone were loaded onto boats before it was pumped into the lake. When the day was finished, 113 gallons of liquid rotenone was sprayed into the 170-surface-acre lake and 3,900 pounds of powdered rotenone were mixed into the murky water. Lewandowski said the first dead fish started to appear about 20 minutes after the pesticide derived from a tropical plant was first pumped into the water. The chemical is expected to break down in about a week. "We will probably have bears and eagles feeding on the fish and it won't affect them," Lewandowski said.

It will be restocked with catchable rainbow trout, large mouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish and blue gill in the spring. The water should clear a bit too because the white suckers stirred up the clay bottom. "It will be good fishing next spring," White said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

10:10:49 AM    

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