People & Organizations

Connor: Find a Fix or We Will

At the 70th Annual Conference of the Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA), Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor implied that if the lower basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada can’t find a fix for their Colorado River’s problems, the interior secretary will find it for them. In an Arizona Daily Star article, Connor referenced the need to prevent Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels. Should this be the case there would be huge cutbacks in water deliveries to the agricultural sector, cities, and Indian tribes.


DNR Director Resigns

In mid-December Mike King, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (CDNR), stepped down from his position. He had led the CDNR since 2010. King plans to take a new job with Denver Water as the Director of Planning. In this new position, he will oversee their climate change preparations, demand and supply management, environmental compliance, long-range planning for raw water and treated supplies, water rights, and watershed management. In a press release from Governor Hickenlooper’s office, he praised King for all the work he’s done during his administration, including helping to devise a statewide water plan and merging the department’s parks and wildlife divisions.


CWCB/CWA Healthy Rivers Fund Eliminated but Alternative Funding Sources Available

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) staff received a letter from the Department of Revenue dated November 12, 2015 stating that the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund (CHRF) did not receive the $75,000 threshold amount of donations between January 1 and September 30, 2015. The program requires that the funding threshold level be met to stay in the voluntary tax checkoff program. The program was short of the mark with only $61,348 donated during that time period. It will not appear on the 2015 tax form. This is unfortunate news. However, in many ways the CHRF was the model for CWCB’s Colorado Watershed Restoration Program (CWRP).


High Desert Conservation District, by Susan Thornton, Special Districts Association

In an effort to avoid confusion, the Dolores Conservation District recently changed their name to the High Desert Conservation District (HDCD). Among the services that the newly named HDCD provides is information about cover crops, erosion and salinity control, flood damage, irrigation management, noxious weeds, and practical management of crops and pastures. The District also publishes a resource handbook, Rural Living in Southwest Colorado. In addition, the District has hired an agricultural consultant to provide free on-site consultations with ranchers and farmers to help them establish best practices, which aids with more efficient water use. The free consultations are paid in part by a matching grant from the Southwestern Water Conservation District.


Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs Steps Down

After almost two decades on the bench, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs officially retired on August 31st. When Governor Romer appointed Hobbs to the state’s highest court in 1996, it was the realization of a career-long goal for the attorney. But Greg jokes a little about the day he learned he would be Romer’s pick. When asked why he should appoint Hobbs to the Court, Greg replied that he holds the institutional knowledge of the various panels that work on natural resources issues, he’s drafted bills for the Legislature, and he has worked collaboratively with citizens’ boards and commissions. That’s what Romer wanted—someone who knew how to get along with what was then a fractious group. Upon appointing him, however, Romer said “Get a tie—a real tie.” Twenty years later Greg is still known for wearing his characteristic bolo ties. “Like Sam did!” says Greg. While counsel for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District for 17 years, Greg worked closely with Frank “Sam” Maynes on many pieces of state and federal water legislation affecting the state.


U.S. Forest Service & Wildfires

According to a recently released report, costs to battle ever-increasing and massive wildfires have “decimated” the budget of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) charged with fighting the blazes. For the first time in its 110-year history, the USFS reports it spends more than 50% of its annual budget on firefighting at the expense of other programs to prevent the infernos.


CWCB Finalizes Dry Gulch Loan

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) officially approved an agreement with the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) to restructure the financing of the Dry Gulch water storage project. In 2002, after a severe drought and massive wildfires, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) began working with the SJWCD to develop a water storage facility at Dry Gulch.


Mancos Water Conservancy District

At a September public meeting, the Mancos Water Conservancy District (MWCD) board continued discussion about obtaining title transfer of irrigation facilities from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). At the meeting they heard from two out-of-state irrigation managers who benefited from title transfer. Invited guests were Gary Esslinger, Manager for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in New Mexico, and Tom Knutson, retired General Manager of the Farwell Irrigation District in Nebraska. Both reported that the title process was time consuming and not easy but that it was worth it in the end for their districts.


Telluride’s San Miguel River Restoration Project

In July, the Town of Telluride Open Space Commission approved nearly $1 million in funding for a project to reroute the San Miguel River back to its original course on the Valley Floor. Approximately 125 years ago, the river was channelized, or straightened, to hug the southern edge of the valley and make transportation of goods down the waterway easier. In 2008, the town purchased the Valley Floor, and one of the main goals of that purchase was to restore the river to its original, meandering course across the conservation easement west of town.


Dolores Conservation District Changes Name

According to a recent Mancos Times article, the Dolores Conservation District (a WIP participating entity) is changing its name and embarking on a marketing campaign to raise awareness of its agricultural services. The first step is the name change to High Desert Conservation District. "The old name has been confusing for people," said district manager Judy Garrigues. "It's hard to promote ourselves when the public isn't clear about what we do." The High Desert Conservation District provides farmers and ranchers with resources to better manage their operations.


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