Killing The Colorado

This series of articles curated by the non-profit journalism organization ProPublica is fascinating reading for anyone interested in water issues. It features articles on the issues surrounding water including dams, agriculture, how much water there really is, Las Vegas’ growth, an historical look at how we got to the dangerous position we find ourselves in today and much more. Visit the Killing the Colorado website by clicking here.

Colorado Headwaters Connectivity Project

Reconnecting the headwaters of the Colorado through the Windy Gap area is something TU sees as critical.

Colorado Headwaters Connectivity Project To Receive Funding 

February, 2019 Update
In a recent, wonderful development, funding has been appropriated for this project!A project is underway to reconnect portions of the Upper Colorado at the Windy Gap Reservoir and nearby areas. The Windy Gap Dam area of the Colorado and Fraser rivers in the vicinity have suffered over the years from the impacts of the dam, weirs and the Granby Diversion. The combined impact of the present structures has been to prevent the normal movement of fish and other aquatic life in the area. Another result has been the "armoring" of the river bed below Windy Gap Dam, resulting in what amounts to a dead zone below the dam.  

On August 15, 2018, a Public Scoping Open House for the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project was held in Granby. The meeting was well-publicized and open to everyone. About 15  interested people attended the informative meeting. Most attendees were stakeholders with a serious interest in the proposed process. At the meeting, they had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the proposed Windy Gap by-pass and other issues impacting connectivity on the upper Colorado River. TU strongly supports the proposed Windy Gap By-Pass and improvements to the Fraser River and is one of the sponsors of the project. Although there were questions and concerns expressed, everyone in the room seemed enthusiastic about the proposal. There was some concern about "the Devil being in the details" but the tone of the crowd was optimistic.

This was the first in a series of expected local meetings about the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project. If you were unable to be at the meeting, you can still express your thoughts. There will be future opportunities for comment as the plan evolves as well.

An in-depth article about the meeting, including a history of the Windy Gap project, was published in the August 24, 2018 Winter Park Times. To read the entire article,  click here for a link to the paper online.

For more information about the meeting, click here.

In a concerning development, a Front Range environmental group has come out against reconnecting this portion of the upper Colorado. They've announced a lawsuit intended to stop these proposed improvements to the health of the river. Their opinion appears to be that anything allowing diversion of water from the Colorado is unacceptable, even if that water is owned by an entity with a clearly established right to that water. Trout Unlimited (and everyone at the Scoping Meeting) knows that the some of the river's water is owned by the diverters and that water will be diverted. TU and most others believe that conversation with the entities who own the water will ultimately be better for the river than litigation we believe is doomed to fail. At TU, we'd love to have more water in our rivers but we acknowledge reality: A substantial portion of the water has been sold and will be diverted. Our goal is to work with the diverters, government entities, irrigators and other stakeholders to make the best of the real-world situation. Projects like this will quickly have a positive impact on the health of the river. Never-ending litigation won't help the river. We're disappointed that we need to work to save the Colorado from Save The Colorado and other non-local groups.

UN On Climate Change

The United Nations has determined that the threats from climate change are even greater than expected.

Climate Threat Greater Than Expected

The UN Climate Change Conference clearly stated that the rate of climate change is faster than anticipated. Listen to, or read the text, of an excellent and very informative fact-based interview on PBS. William Brangham interviewed David Victor, author of Global Warming Gridlock and professor of international relations at University of California, San Diego, on December 6, 2018. Click here for the link .

Sucking the River Dry

If you only want to read ONE article to get the "big picture" on the threat to the Colorado River, this is the best one we've found so far. On Sunday, April 8, the Denver Post published this article summarizing the plight of the upper Colorado. The Article is titled "Sucking the River Dry". Just click on this link to see the entire article. 

Two other articles worthy of your attention were associated with this topic in the same paper, but don't appear in the online link:

  • The brief sidebar to the above article titled "A River on The Brink" pointed out the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife findings below Windy Gap reservoir at Granby. In it, the author points out the 38% loss of aquatic insect life, the complete elimination of some native fish seen as indicators of stream health, the near elimination of stoneflies (a major source of fish food) and the destruction of the river bottom by silt.

  • A second article, by Walter Hecox, described the impressions and ideas of two Colorado College students who kayaked the Colorado to the point at which it dies near its former estuary in the Sea of Cortez. Click here for the link.

Grand County Drought Plan

TU is working with Grand County to formulate a plan for the next inevitable drought.

Drought Plan For Grand County
Our Trout Unlimited Chapter wants to help us here in Grand County to set the example in being water-wise. We want to be able to hold our area up as a shining example of responsible use. We'll be working with local town and county officials to create sensible, responsible recommendations and encourage smart water usage in our communities.

Letter from fishing guide on fishing in drought years

The letter below is from our good friend, Jack Bombadier, from the summer of 2018. Due to an improved snowpack in the spring of 2019, we're hopeful this summer will not repeat the same conditions. We are keeping this letter here because as our climate continues to change and large amounts of water are diverted from the Western Slope, the problems discussed here will certainly reoccur.

 

To all those with an interest in the health of the Colorado River,

 As of June 28th,the Upper Colorado River is experiencing some low water conditions, which in turn have contributed to warmer water temperatures and some algea blooms. The blindingly hot weather hasn't helped, either.  There isn't any additional water coming for another week or more, but by mid-month big water releases from Wolford Mountain and other sources should see us through.  Odds are we'll have the some summer monsoons rolling in too, which should cool things off.

 The make or break it period will be over the next week or two.  There isn't much cooler weather predicted for that period, and there will be a lot more people on the river.  The temperatures have gone up to 71 degrees farenheit over the past two days, as registered by the new USGS gauge at Catamount. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/co/nwis/uv?cb_00010=on&cb_00020=on&cb_00060=on&format=gif_default&site_no=0 

 If there's one factor I hope mitigates things a little, it's that's there are some exceptionally deep holes along the Upper Colorado River.  There are three holes down this way that are twenty feet deep, and one that that is a least forty.  If the fish can make their way to these refuges, they should be fine. 

The point of this email is to raise awareness about what will hopefully be a short-term problem.  Almost every reservoir on the Upper Colorado System is close to full, so its not like the resources  aren't there should things take a turn for the worse.  But please try to do your fishing earlier in the day, before afternoon temperatures climb.  If you have to wet a line,  do it near those deeper holes where the fish will be in better shape.  Obviously don't play fish to exhaustion, and give'em a little love when you put them back, making sure they're ready to swim away on their own steam before releasing them. 

Lets help our precious fish make it through this tough stretch! 

 

                                                             Jack Bombardier

 

 

 

Jack Bombardier
Confluence Casting LLC
970-524-2775
Mail - 14503 Colorado River Road
Shop - 13403 Colorado River Road
Gypsum CO 81637
Jack@confluencecasting.com