June 16, 2016--After dam release, river runs through the Lower Dolores (Durango Herald)

The opening of the lower Dolores River for the first time in five years was a joyous occasion for boaters who could swing the impromptu release. However, it was also a sober realization that choke-hold restrictions are slowly transitioning the river into its altered state: Dolores Creek. Overgrown banks, loads of sediment in the waterway and a depleted fishery cast a pale backdrop to an otherwise awe-inspiring float down the lower Dolores River, known for its deep canyons, lush ponderosa forests and seemingly endless succession of whitewater. “And all of that is just a reflection of the channel starting to reflect the current hydrology,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White. “It has changed.” Before McPhee Reservoir was built in the 1980s, effectively plugging the river near the town of Dolores, flows were erratic at best: some years, after spring runoff, agricultural needs left the winding waterway completely dry. To meet the annual irrigation demands of more than 70,000 acres of otherwise arid land as well as the domestic water use of two communities – all located in another water basin – a dam was proposed. To view the full article visit the Durango Herald.