Glenwood Canyon daytime closure Tuesday | SkyHiNews.com

Glenwood Canyon daytime closure Tuesday

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will move forward with a full closure of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8. Daytime closure will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m from exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) to exit 133 (Dotsero). Weather permitting, crews are planning to utilize a helicopter to put rockfall netting in place on the slope where the original slide occurred. The construction team will also take the opportunity to continue road repairs on both the westbound and eastbound decks. Safety closures of the Hanging Lake, Grizzly Creek and Shoshone rest areas remain in effect while traffic is in the head-to-head configuration. Bair Ranch (on the east side) and No Name (west side) rest areas will remain open. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well. (Please note, local traffic coming from the west can travel as far as No Name; local traffic from the east can travel as far as Bair Ranch during this daytime closure.) ALTERNATE ROUTES/TRAFFIC IMPACTS: Front Range motorists/Summit County/westbound motorists CO 9 (Silverthorne) to US 40 (Steamboat Springs) west on US 40 (Craig) south to CO 13 (Rifle) Eagle County/westbound motorists CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes. South alternate route Uses US 50. Access to US 50 is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of US 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range. (Please note, there is construction on US 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March; some blasting and up to 30-minute delays may be encountered.)

Upper Colo. deemed 2nd most endangered river

For a second year, the Upper Colorado made it on American River's list of most endangered rivers. The environmental advocacy group ranked the river and its tributaries at the No. 2 spot, meaning it at least dropped a notch compared to last year. The Upper Colorado's primary threat is new transmountain diversions as the state's metro population continues to grow. "Having tapped the headwaters of the Colorado mainstem, some Front Range water interests are currently considering diversions from rivers farther away, like the Yampa and Gunnison rivers — rivers not yet impaired by transmountain diversions," the American Rivers report said. The annual America's Most Endangered Rivers report selects rivers considered to be at a "crossroads," where pending management decisions can influence river health for better or worse. In 2013, the group listed the Colorado River as the No. 1 most endangered river because of outdated water management policies throughout the river's basin. Last May, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order demanding a statewide water plan by December 2014. Representatives with American Rivers and other environmental groups have urged the governor to make river protection a high priority in future water considerations. "We can solve the puzzle of meeting water demands of new Colorado residents with an increased focus on conservation, recycling and sharing agreements between irrigators and cities," said Bart Miller, water program director with conservation group Wester Resources Advocates, in a press release. "The pieces are there, we just have to put them together." While the bulk of Colorado's population lives on the Front Range, 80 percent of its precipitation falls on the West Slope, mostly draining into the Colorado River. Agricultural irrigation accounts for most of the state's water use. Some estimates set agriculture at consuming 86 percent of Colorado's water. To help prevent more transmountain water diversions like the Colorado-Big Thompson Project in Grand County, the American Rivers report urges Hickenlooper and the state's water managers to "modernize agricultural practices and make it easier for irrigators … to share water with urban areas." "The 'America's Most Endangered Rivers' report is a call to action to save rivers that are at a critical tipping point," said Ken Neubeck of American Rivers in a press release. "We cannot afford more outdated, expensive and harmful water development schemes that drain and divert rivers and streams across the Upper Colorado Basin." Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

Grand County Real Estate Transactions, Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, 2015

Grand County transactions Oct. 4 to Oct. 10 TRT D/E SEC 1 TWP 1N R 77W Partial Legal – See Document – John B Murphy Revocable Living Trust, Carolyn Hudak Murphy Revocable Living Trust to ST Ranch LLC, $858,627 Hot Sulphur Springs 1st Addn Block 16, Lots 5,6,7,8,9,10 – Rick Myers to Matthew and Jeannine Swatzki, $170,000 Columbine Lake Lot 82, Block 8 – Gregory and Susan Glass to Stephen and Tessa Tarr, $217,500 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 332 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Kevin and Anne Dingle, $381,377 Eagle Addition to Kremmling Lot 4, Block 3 – Craig and Cindy Naill to Shane and Kimberly Bodemann, $35,000 Sun River Townhomes Lot 3 – John Bartley, Jerome and Joyce Turrin to Douglas Holt and Tuba Ustuner, $200,000 Trade Exchange Rockies Inc Minor Subdivision 1, Lot 11A, Block 3 – Gregory Browne to Andrea and Jess Buller, $172,000 Meadow Ridge Lodges Court 10, Unit 8 – Larry and Sandra Glasser to Christopher and Kathryn Purcell, $184,250 Lakeside at Pole Creek Townhomes Unit 25B – G3 LLC to Lyle and Sue Pfeifer, $394,900 Timbers Condominiums Unit 1, Bldg 8 – Michael Juhnke to Kenneth and Angela Mackey, $242,000 Nobel Outright Exemption Lot B – Daniel and Denise Verdoorn, Denise Overhardt to Jacquelyn K Beaver Trust, $1,074,000 Winter Park Meadows Condo Unit 1C – Wilbur and Nichole Sameshima to Kim Turnbo, $71,900 Frontier Investment Company Addition to Kremmling Block 27, Lots 7,8,9,10 – J D Ward to Steven Hatcher and Lannette Eastep, $120,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 322 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Andrew and Beth Inhelder, $359,900 Sawmill Station Townhomes Unit 1D – Peter Edwards to Esteban and Imelda Rocha, $340,000 Columbine Lake Lot 89, Block 8 – Richard Williams to Joseph and Stephanie Osborn, $242,000 Whistlestop Townhomes Exemption No 1, Unit E2 – Cabin Properties LLC to Dulce and Jose Munoz, Dulce Maricela Llamosas Demunoz, $615,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 311 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Frederick and Lisa Schuth, $234,125.64 Mountainside at SilverCreek C U 97 Timeshare 097617 – Stone Living Trust to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500 Telemark Condominiums Unit 578 – Stephanie Christensen and Ryan Hunter to Kevin and Jillaine Horn, $312,500 Soda Springs Ranch Filing 2, Unit 5, TRT C – Anthony and Lynette Belfiore to Thomas Lathers, $102,500 Lot 18 SEC 22 TWP 3N R 76W Partial Legal – See Document – Michael and Janet Wickenheiser to Starnes Family, $85,000 Fairways at Pole Creek PH 1 & Open Space Unit 2 22 – Gary and Margaret Alcorn to Shane Harvey and Kathryn Reilly, $649,000 East Mountain Filing 3, Lot 28 – Kirk Olson and Brenda Drake to Patrick and Joanna Ball, $445,000 Meadow Ridge Lodges Court 3, Unit 6 – Mary Kennedy to Jason and Karen Bristow, $137,750 Columbine Lake Lot 2, Block 15, State Columbine Subdivision Lot 28 – Dorothy Fine to Sean Holamon, $222.000 First Valley Addn to Granby Lot 4, Block 1 – Robb and Molly Rankin to George and Alexandra McGuan, $260,000 Robbers Roost on Balsh Lot 2 – Robbers Roost LLC to David Griffus, $506,917 Lyons Homestead Subdivision Lot G, Block 3 – Wayne and Victor Grider to Gerald and Jean Lammers, $57,000 Slopeside Village Unit 2, Bldg H – Thomas J Vessels Revocable Trust, Tina H Vessels Revocable Trust to Rodney Valdez, $570,000 Grand Lake Lot 14, Block 22 – LJH LLC to Sandy Waters, $365,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 312 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Taft Valley LLC, $367,480 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 333 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Dean and Maxine Funk, $503,178 East Mountain Filing 5, Lots 104,115,116,123; East Mountain Filing 7, Lots 88,89,90,91,92,93,109,110,111 – Rendezvous Colorado LLC to Rendezvous Homes LLC, $750,000 Shadow Mountain Yacht Club Unit 5, Bldg Wescott, Garage No 5 – Peter Muncaster and Carol Lehr Muncaster to John and Louise Dillon, $315,000 SEC 23 TWP 3N R 76W Partial Legal – See Document – Alan and Evelyn Wentworth, Carol Hanna to Michael and Beth Minnick, $70,000 Granby Ranch Filing 1B, Lot 58 – William Lyon Homes Inc, Village Homes, NVH INV LLC to Ginger and William Oliver III, $563,467 Summit at SilverCreek Bldg 4, Unit 4301 – Peter and Annette Frith to Polly Gaskill, $95,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 314 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Michael and Stacey Messer, $358,781 Pole Creek Valley Addition Lot 63 – Darren and Leslie Dines to Robb and Molly Rankin, $435,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 313 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Paul and Leslie Hartmann, $474,900 SEC 25 TWP 1S R 75W Partial Legal – See Document – Robert and Ann Hinds to Shawna Yaussi, $30,000 Trailhead Lodges Lodge 3, Unit 324 – Summit Legend Trailhead Inc to Michael and Lisa Early, $367,748.94

The State of the Colorado River

Things are looking relatively good this summer for the upper Colorado River Basin though the seemingly good news is tempered by the broader view of water levels and droughts hampering much of the American west as well as a sobering outlook at what lies ahead. Officials from the Colorado River District, along with representatives from Denver Water, Northern Water, Grand County Water Information Network and local conservationists like Kirk Klancke, President of the Grand County Chapter of Trout Unlimited, outlined the current state of the rivers, streams and tributaries in Grand County as well as broader discussions of the overall state of the Colorado River Basin at a recent State of the River meeting held at Mountain Parks Electric in Granby. General Manager for the Colorado River District Eric Kuhn cut right to the point during his presentation saying, "In Colorado conditions are okay to wet with full reservoirs, decent stream flows and few supply problems." The broader picture is not so rosy though. "Basin wide system storage is declining. Lower Basin states are facing shortages and Upper Basin states are planning for them." It is a tale of two separate realities with the Upper Basin and Lower Basin experiencing significantly different conditions. According to Kuhn's presentation Colorado and the Front Range area of the State have been wet for the last two-and-a-half-years. The relatively high amounts of precipitation seen on the eastern side of the continental divide, including deluges in the fall of 2013 that caused significant road damage, have kept reservoirs and water storage sites east of the divide fairly full. This has kept transmountain diversions of water through places like the Alva B. Adams Tunnel and Moffat Tunnel to a minimal level. The Lower Basin region however is dealing with a structural deficit and several portions of the basin are dry. Much of the structural deficit felt in the Lower Basin comes down to simple math. According to figures provided by Kuhn Lake Mead receives roughly 9-million-acre-feet each year in inflows from the Colorado River and other local tributary inflows while releasing roughly 9.6-million-acre-feet per year. Additionally Mead loses roughly 600,000 acre-feet per year to evaporation, leaving the lower Basin with a structural deficit of about 1.2 million-acre-feet annually. In layman's terms this means that each year Lake Mead's storage level declines by about 12 feet. Looking at the math for the entire Colorado River Basin shows use levels at around 16 to 17.5 million-acre-feet annually. The structural deficit of the Lower Basin is made additionally concerning by two factors: intense droughts that have plagued the western US and southern California especially leading to depleted ground water and diminished aquifers, and historic weather trends where significant droughts have followed behind El Nino weather systems. El Nino is the term for a regularly occurring weather system affecting the Pacific Ocean marked by warm ocean currents and often resulting in higher than average precipitation. El Nino events typically last multiple years at a time and recur every few years. We are currently in an El Nino cycle that is expected to end this year. In 2000 when Colorado began experiencing a significant drought that lasted several years the drought immediately followed a wet El Nino cycle in the late 1990s. Similar trends have occurred historically and officials who oversee the flow of the Colorado River are additionally concerned because of the already diminished storage levels in the River's reservoir storage system. The Colorado River Basin can hold a total of roughly 60 million-acre-feet of water among all the large Bureau of Reclamation Reservoirs such as Mead and Powell, which together have a capacity of 50 million-acre-feet. The 60 million-acre-feet storage capacity does not take into account smaller local reservoirs such as Granby and Wolford Mountain. During his presentation Kuhn explained how not a single drop of water from the Colorado River has reached the ocean for the last 18 years. If historic weather patterns hold and predictions come true the next few years could prove troublesome for the Colorado River Basin, and the entire western US as a whole.

Kremming’s inaugural Redneck Mudshuffle a success

Engines roared and the mud flew through the air as drivers attempted to race their pickup trucks over the muddy course of the Redneck Mudshuffle & Calcutta at the fairgrounds in Kremmling on Sunday, May 25. A total of 28 teams competed in Sundays contest. Under the rules of the competition, each team had to make two runs over the course with the combined time determining the teams results. Each team was required to have two drivers, each of whom had to make one of the runs.Another requirement under the races rules was that none of the vehicles were allowed to be more than 500 horsepower. The success of each team was based on teamwork and driving skill, not horsepower.The complete results for last Sundays Redneck Mudshuffle & Calcutta are: 1. Gully/Scuzzaro, 78.23; 2. Timmerman/Fobert, 82.01; 3. Valencia, 82.57; 4. McMahon/Debroot, 82.64; 5. Shirado, 82.89; 6. Bauer, 84.98; 7. Redding/Soefker, 85.67; 8. Suppes/Ulrick, 87.68; 9. Omara/Keim, 88.35; 10. Kennedy, 88.55; 11. Phipps, 92.27; 12. Docheff/Gore, 94.2; 13. Higgins/Terryberry, 95.4; 14. Onken/VanNatta, 95.42; 15. Sheppardson/Colter, 98.72; 16. Cherry/Davis, 99.85; 17. Scott, 101.03; 17. Collins/Cherry, 103.91; 18. Johnson/Barr, 104.07; 19. Tamburelli/Scuzzaro, 104.79; 20. Johnson/Menhennett, 106.66; 21. Smith, 109.74; 22. Meyer/Rusher, 110.17; 23. Smith/Reckker, 112.15; 24. Blakesky/Deschene, 113.22; 25. Jones/Wilson, 115.6; 26. Acord/Reed, 117.58; 27. Docheff, 117.82; Higgins/Joyce, DQ.

Fish video portrays lost trout from Upper Colorado River

A lovable lost-looking trout trying to hitch a ride after abandoning a dried-up Upper Colorado riverbed is the subject of a video being circulated to tens of thousands of Coloradans. The new video, produced by Trout Unlimited and the Defend the Colorado group, shows the trout panhandling in downtown Denver, where one driver hands the troubled fish a bottle of water, which the trout takes to desperately splash himself. Commentary on the video addresses Denver Water’s plans to siphon more water out of the Fraser and Upper Colorado rivers. The short video was released starting last week “to raise public awareness about the plight of the Fraser River and Upper Colorado rivers, which are being depleted to death by water diversions to the Front Range,” states a press release from Trout Unlimited. “It’s getting some pretty good play,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. So far the video is being sent to Trout Unlimited’s membership, but starting this week, the organization is spreading it to a broader audience by reaching out to other conservation organizations such as the Colorado Wildlife Federation and American Rivers. Colorado’s Trout Unlimited officials also hope the video and message spreads via social media. “It’s a lighthearted effort to highlight a serious problem: diversions are killing the Fraser River,” Nickum said. “We’re in danger of destroying a priceless state resource and major recreation area for Front Range residents. Coloradans need to tell Denver Water: Don’t kill the river.” The video is intended to make more Denver residents aware of the river’s plight. River advocates are also circulating a petition with the video, asking Coloradans to tell Denver Water to “finish the job” of protecting the Fraser by including safeguards for river habitat and water quality before moving forward with the Moffat Firming Project. The defendthecolorado.org online petition calls for “flushing flows, water quality safeguards, habitat restoration, and long-term monitoring and accountability in the Moffat expansion proposal.” As of Wednesday, as many as 950 people had signed the petition, according to Nickum. Trout Unlimited eventually plans to present the petition to Denver Water to try and influence its actions concerning the project. A poll on the same web page, presumably directed to Front Range and Denver residents, asks, “Is your household willing to do more to protect Colorado’s rivers and wildlife?” and, should “Denver Water go the extra mile to protect the Fraser River and keep the source of our drinking water clean and healthy?” “Colorado’s quality of life and economy are tied to healthy rivers,” said Jon Kahn of Confluence Kayaks in Denver. “I am just one of hundreds of business owners whose livelihoods depend on healthy flows and water quality in Colorado’s rivers, including the Fraser.”

State water plan: New Colorado River diversion possible

Western Slope water interests still reeling from the Gross Expansion Project may barely have enough time to catch their breath before they're again summoned to the bargaining table. The Colorado Water Conservation Board presented the first full draft of its 2014 Colorado Water Plan to Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday, Dec. 10, and the document identifies an additional trans-mountain diversion as a possible solution for growing demands on the Front Range. The water plan is the result of a 2013 executive order from Hickenlooper, which sought to establish a cohesive plan for the state's future water use in the face of a growing population. Regarding another diversion, the plan "seeks to find a path forward that considers the option of developing a new (trans-mountain diversion), while addressing many of the concerns expressed by the Colorado Basin roundtable and others." The threat of another trans-mountain diversion has loomed behind the development of localized basin implementation plans for each of Colorado's eight largest river basins. The South Platte/Metro Basin roundtables have called for new Colorado River water supplies since their draft plan was released this summer. The state water plan outlines seven "points of consensus" for a new diversion, one of which states that the Eastern Slope isn't seeking firm yield from a new diversion, and that it "would accept hydrologic risk for that project." But Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran said many of those points are overly vague. "What does risk mean?," Curran said. "What does a new (trans-mountain diversion) mean? What does that mean when you have millions of people relying on it? The devil is in the details." Grand County has been active in the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which has actively opposed any new trans-mountain diversion from the Colorado River. Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, said in an email that the Western Slope basin roundtables would probably draft an official response at their Dec. 18 meeting in Grand Junction. Pokrandt did provide a list of points from a November discussion, in which the Colorado Basin Roundtable calls it "premature" to include the seven points in the state water plan. "We need to recognize that there may come a point where we cannot back down," the document states, "where we will need to take a stand for the sake of the West Slope and Colorado as a whole." In past discussions, Pokrandt has maintained that any additional diversions from the Colorado River could trigger a compact call, in which junior water rights holders must stop diverting to supply Lower Basin states with water. A compact call could impact municipal and other users on the West Slope, including the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Each basin will submit its final basin implementation plan to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in April 2015. The board will submit its final state water plan to the governor in December 2015. To view the draft state water plan, visit http://coloradowaterplan.com

Grand County Real Estate Transactions

Scanloch Subdivision Lot 1, Block 2 – Gerald and Jo Ann Shumaker to Dylan and Gabrielle Taylor, $79,000 Winter Park Ranch 3rd Filing, Lot 62, Block 1 – Luanne Kay to Adam Gould and Veronica Callinan, $250,000 Winter Park Highlands Greenridge Lot 16 – Paul and Karen True Trust to Justin and Deborah Bridge, $207,000 Rio Rancho Small Tracts Sub Exempt Lot 1 – Larry and Judith Ware to Hadley and Joan Bradbury, $898,000 Columbine Lake Block 3, Lots 14,15 – Gerald and Kathryne Vanner to Benny and Susan Law, $285,000 Aspen Meadows Condominiums Unit 207, Block C – Aspen Meadows Condominiums LLC to Gordon McGlinchey and Brenda Kraft, $116,900 Winter Park Lodge II Bldg F, Unit 201 – Raymond and Judith Hall to Kenneth Richardson and Kelly Fraser, $137,500 Grand Country Estates TRT 77 – Richard Timothy Parry Living Trust to Cozens Pointe LLC, $65,000 Cozens Pointe at Grand Park Unit 201, Bldg B, Garage Unit B – Cozens Pointe LLC to Richard Parry and Abby Bleistein, $324,000 Villa Harbor Subdivision Lot 18 – Bell Crest Enterprises LLLP to William Henry Peltier III, $365,000 River Run Condominiums Unit 203, Bldg B – PennyMac Loan Services LLC to John and Barbara Rankin, $89,120 Copper Creek Lot 46 – John and Nancy Rice to Bruce Campbell, $299,999 Meadow Ridge Lodges Court 27, Unit 8 – Smith Family Trust to James Reasor and Margaret Copeland, $160,600 Mountainside at SilverCreek C U 111, Timeshare No 111504 – Tom and Louise Massoni to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500 Mountainside at SilverCreek C U 99, Timeshare No 099649 – Leo and Ann Lussier to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500 Mountainside at SilverCreek C U 91, Timeshare No. 091535 – Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association to Michael B Ensley Revocable Trust, $500 E.J. Vulgamotts 1st Block 5, Lots 1,2, Tabernash – Steven and Charlene Hayward to Chuck and Marie Huston, $52,000 Yacht Club Estates Lot 5 – FDIC, Firstier Bank to Gary and Linda Knippa, $1,250,000 Lakota Flg 3, Tract C, Lot 33 – SNAD II LP to M6 Capital LLC, $975,000 Longview Addn/Hot Sulphur Springs Block 15, Lots 10,11,12 – John and Taura Perdue to Roger and Michelle Gable, $213,000 Exhibit “A” Not Attached for Legal Description – Liberty Savings Bank FSB to Allen Schrieber and Suzette Kynor, $13,000 Lakeview Subdivision Unit 2, Lot 1, Bldg B – Fannie Mae Federal National Mortgage Association to Kenneth and Paulette Nolan, $106,000 Hamilton Hills Subdivision Exempt TRT 2 – Patricia Jacques to John and Florice Lietzke, $285,471 Mountainside at SilverCreek B U 064, Timeshare No. 064128 – David and Sharon Anderson to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500 Mountainside at SilverCreek B U 035, Timeshare No. 035126 – Thomas Farrel and Joann Debruin-Farrell to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500 Cozens Meadow at Grand Park Lot 3 – Grand Park Homes LLC to Robert and Debra Gnuse, $523,000 Pines at Meadow Ridge Court B U 6, Week 38 – Stephen and Susan Clemens to Naomi Yahn, $1,500 Slopeside Village Unit 113A, Bldg E – Stephen and Cary Paul to James Byerrum, $382,500 Fraser Crossing-Founders Pointe Condominium Unit 3611 – Smith Living Trust to Hyo and Jina Kim, $360,000

Wild & Scenic: working to keep river management local

Water issues are always contentious, but sometimes various organizations and competing interests come together to find solutions. One such group of local entities, known as the Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Stakeholders Group (WSSG), is looking to protect the Colorado River and is working to keep management of the rivers recreational resources under the auspices of local control. The group is focused entirely on the upper Colorado River from Gore Canyon downstream to Glenwood Canyon. The Colorado is one of the state's busiest bodies of water, with anglers, recreational boaters and sightseers congregating on the upper Colorado in large numbers. The headwaters of the Colorado start in Rocky Mountain National Park but it is below Kremmling, from Gore Canyon downstream, where the river sees its heaviest recreational use in the state. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service administer much of the Colorado River. Part of their regular administrative duties is the development of a management plan. As part of their management plans the potential exists for the Colorado to be designated as a "Wild and Scenic" river. Wild and Scenic designation is a function of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Official designation of a river as Wild and Scenic requires congressional approval but there are several steps in the process before official designation. Once a river has been officially designated as Wild and Scenic specific management tasks must be undertaken. Local stakeholders however want to defer any determinations related to a possible Wild and Scenic designation to allow local groups the opportunity to oversee management of recreational resources on the river. "The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act contemplates and puts forward a local option as preferred," said Rob Buirgy, Project Coordinator for the WSSG. "We believe if we have a local alternative we can accomplish more protection than we could with people fighting over federal involvement." The WSSG is made up of a large number of stakeholder entities such as American Whitewater, Trout Unlimited, Northern Water, Grand County government, the Colorado River District and many more. The various stakeholders sometimes have competing individual interests but all members of the group are invested in keeping management of recreational resources on the Colorado under local control. "The BLM and the (US) Forest Service have agreed to defer a suitability determination," Buirgy said. "This section of the river has not been found suitable for Wild and Scenic. It was not found unsuitable either. The decision was put on the shelf to honor the stakeholders commitment." WSSG has made an agreement with the federal agencies that any suitability determination can come off the shelf if the group fails to meet their commitments. The recreational resources on the river the WSSG is looking to protect are technically referred to as Outstanding Recreational Values, or ORVs. The ORVs on the Colorado vary within the separate segments that make up the river but are primarily focused on recreational fishing, float-boating, wildlife, historic sites and fossil beds among others factors. The WSSG has set up a Web site, http://www.upcowildandscenic.com, where people can view the management plan the group has developed. Included in the management plan is a breakdown of the seven segments of the river overseen by the plan and what specific ORVs exist on each segment. Assistant General Manager for Northern Water Alan Berryman spoke positively about the WSSG. "We have come up with a pretty good program where all the local stakeholders and state interests are there," said Berryman. "We are kind of starting a new era operating on a more formal basis. The main deal is trying to protect the ORVs." Berryman went on to explain the WSSG works to balance water uses with protection of the ORVs for future use. Legal Counsel for Trout Unlimited Mely Whiting discussed the balancing act a bit further. "This is a locally driven locally focused group of stakeholders trying to preserve the value of the river in a way that you can also have water diversion and water operations continue," Whiting said. "This group is trying to figure out how to manage the river and move forward the elements of the management plan. If we see any problems we have all the players at the table. The goal is that if something does start showing up we will be able to coordinate operations to make things better." Mike Eytel, Senior Water Resource Specialist with the Colorado River District explained some of the background of the group. "About every 15 years or so federal agencies update their management plans," Eytel said. "The real driver of this one was the BLM's Resource Management Plan. That kicked this whole thing off. We inserted ourselves in to the suitability phase. We finally got a record of decision about six months ago. The process has been going on about seven years." Eytel also said that the US Forest Service deemed the Colorado River eligible for designation in their last resource management plan. While WSSG was waiting on a record of decision from the federal agencies the organization developed a list of tasks to be undertaken by the group. According to Project Coordinator Buirgy several of those tasks have already been completed and the organization is looking to complete the remainder. "We are queuing up the honey-do list and are focused on accomplishing those tasks. We have given ourselves three to five years." The full list of the WSSG planned future tasks can be found under attachment B in the groups management plan.

Lack of March snow likely to bring drought to parts of Middle Park

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Matt Barnes took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March, when the monthly precipitation for the upper Colorado River Basin was a scant 68 percent of average. Snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 59 percent to 107 percent of the 30-year average, with the highest readings on the southeast side of the valley, and the lowest readings along Rabbit Ears Divide on the north side of the valley. This is slightly more snow than on April 1 in the drought years of 2002 or 2004. “This resumes the pattern of weak spring snows observed during 2005-2007, despite the fact that March is historically the snowiest month,” said Mark ‘Doctor’ Volt, District Conservationist. “The April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks during April.” Snow density is averaging 31 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.7 inches of water. This is less water than normal for this depth of snow on April 1. Muddy, Troublesome, Corral, and Willow creeks in Middle Park, and the North Platte River in North Park, have the lowest snowpack in the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of Grand County and adjacent parts of Jackson and Routt counties are now in moderate drought, with northern Summit County and most of the rest of northwest Colorado abnormally dry. The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the upper Rio Grande Basin in south-central Colorado. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: • Colorado River Basin, 76% • Gunnison River Basin, 94% • South Platte River Basin, 83 • Yampa and White River Basins, 77% • Arkansas River Basin, 111% • Upper Rio Grande Basin, 115% • San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 101% • Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 74% Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.