Newsletter Article

Rhees Named BOR’s Upper Colorado Regional Director

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) recently announced the selection of Brent Rhees, P.E., as Upper Colorado Regional Director. Rhees has served as the Salt Lake City-based region's deputy regional director since October 2007. "Brent Rhees has extensive knowledge and more than three decades of experience with the complex challenges in this important region," BOR Commissioner López stated. "Through his strong leadership and his ability to build solid partnerships, Brent is more than prepared to lead the Upper Colorado Region into the future." In his new role, Rhees will oversee BOR operations in most of Utah, New Mexico and western Colorado, as well as northern Arizona, a portion of west Texas, the southeast corner of Idaho and southwestern Wyoming. The responsibility includes oversight of BOR programs, projects, and facilities and encompasses 62 dams with a reservoir capacity of more than 32 million acre feet, 28 hydroelectric powerplants that meet electricity needs of more than 1.3 million people, and multiple recreation opportunities for about 12 million annual visitors.

Evans Selected USDA’s Colorado NRCS State Conservationist

Clint Evans, Assistant State Conservationist for Operations in Idaho, was recently selected as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) State Conservationist in Colorado. “It’s an exciting time,” shares Evans.  “I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with the NRCS employees, conservation partners, landowners and land managers across the state.” Evans started his career with NRCS in 2000, but his first experience with the Agency was in the late 1990s while working on the ranch where his then employer enrolled in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  As a result, Evans gained experience in conservation planning and practice implementation thru financial assistance programs from the customer’s perspective.  He enjoyed working with the NRCS field staff so much that he decided to pursue a career with the Agency. After his tenure as a technician, Evans served in two Kansas field offices, was promoted to District Conservationist in Kingman, Kansas, moved to the Kansas State Office where he served as a Resource Conservationist on the programs staff, and then was selected as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in 2009. He transferred to serve as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Operations in 2013. Additionally and in cooperation with his permanent assignments, Evans served on numerous details in other states and Washington, DC. Evans attended Kansas State University where he studied animal science, agri-business, and agronomy earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. 

Brown Named Colorado Agriculture Commissioner

In late January Governor Hickenlooper announced Don Brown will be the new Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture. He replaces John Salazar who retired in December, having served since 2011. “We are fortunate to welcome Don Brown to the team and thrilled to add his experience and leadership to Colorado’s thriving agriculture industry,” said Hickenlooper. “Agriculture is a critical sector for our economy, contributing $40 billion and providing nearly 173,000 jobs annually. Having Don at the helm, we know agriculture across Colorado will continue to grow.” As commissioner, Brown will lead the department’s daily operations, direct its 300 employees, and oversee the agency’s seven divisions. Brown, a third-generation farmer in Yuma County, has run several successful businesses while spending most of his career managing and growing his family’s extensive farm operations. He has also been active in water conservation, energy development, and technology innovation issues within the industry. Brown is a recipient of the Bill Seward Memorial Award--Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Cattle Producer. He is active in the National Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, National Corn Growers, and the Colorado Corn Growers Association. He also served as president of the Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association and state president of the Future Farmers of America. Brown graduated with a degree in agriculture from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, and received a vocational agriculture education degree with honors from Colorado State University.

Simpson Selected CDWR New Division 7 Assistant Manager

The Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR) has hired John Simpson as the new Assistant Division Engineer for the Dolores/San Juan River Basin, Durango Office. The CDWR is responsible for administering water rights, groundwater well permitting, hydrography, and dam safety in the Basin. Simpson is a Professional Engineer with 15 years experience in engineering and water resources. He received his undergraduate degree from the Colorado School of Mines in Engineering with a Civil Engineering emphasis. He received his master’s degree from Michigan Technological University in Civil Engineering with a specialty in Water Resources. John has previously worked in the private and public sectors on projects such as development projects in the Durango area to community water projects in Honduras with the Peace Corps. John worked extensively in the mountain and prairie states in water resource administration while with the United States Fish and Wildlife. While with the Fish and Wildlife, he was a Professional Engineer in Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Colorado. As a Durango High School graduate, John is excited to return to the Four Corners. John and his family live in Durango, where he is active in the community as a high school wrestling referee.

Reece Appointed New Club 20 Executive Director

Club 20 was founded in 1953 to enable Western Slope cities, counties and businesses to speak with one voice to the state legislature. Today, the 62-year-old lobbying organization is being led by one of its youngest executive directors, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CD 3), Christian Reece. Reece grew up in an Air Force family, traveling and relocating frequently, until her father retired and moved his family to Rifle, where she went to high school. She attended Colorado Mesa University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, planning to enter medical school. When she chose not to go to medical school, she worked for a year for a security agency, followed by four years in fundraising with Habitat for Humanity, then a couple of years assisting Congressman Tipton.  “I worked with Club 20 a lot in Tipton’s office,” she said, making her very familiar with issues of importance to the Western Slope. Club 20 has 10 policy committees concerned with Western Slope issues such as public lands management, oil and gas development, coal mining, forestry, water availability, severance taxes, agricultural tourism, and high-speed broadband service. Her duties as executive director are varied and somewhat intangible. “It’s public relations, lobbying, bill monitoring,” Reece stated. “It’s making sure our membership is being heard.”

Trampe Receives Prestigious 2015 Aspinall Award

In January 2015 the Colorado Water Congress (CWC) awarded Bill Trampe, a life-long Gunnison Rancher and Colorado water advocate, the 2015 Wayne N. Aspinall “Water Leader of the Year” Award. The Aspinall Award is given annually in recognition of a career of service and contribution to Colorado’s water community. It is awarded to a person who has dedicated a significant part of his or her career to the advancement of the state and its programs to protect, develop, and preserve the state’s water resources. Trampe was selected for the award by the previous Aspinall Award winners and CWC officers. CWC Board President, John McClow, said: “Bill Trampe’s leadership and original thinking in water and agriculture have had a tremendous positive impact in our community and the entire state. His modesty, wisdom and tireless commitment to achieving the best result, even when there is strong resistance, inspires everyone who has the opportunity to work with him.”

Huntington Passes

Long-time A-LP Project advocate Lawrence R. Huntington of Hesperus, CO passed on March 7, 2015, he was 96. Lawrence was born in Durango, raised in Hesperus, and graduated from Durango High School. After graduation he drove a propane delivery truck from Cortez to the San Luis Valley. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II where he served in the 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) and five major campaigns including the Battle of the Bulge. Lawrence returned home to the family ranch and diligently worked the land for his entire life. He was married to Leola Bacus in Gallup, NM in 1946. She preceded him in death in 1965. Together they raised their four children and he served his community on various boards to include: Basin Coop, Durango 9-R Schools, Farm Credit System, La Plata County Cattlemen’s Association, La Plata County Fair, La Plata Electric Association, and the La Plata Water Conservancy District. He married a high school classmate, Margaret O’Brien McDonald, in 1966 and she, too, preceded his passing in 1997. He is survived by his four children, two siblings, three stepchildren, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, as well as extended family and friends. Memorial contributions may be made to the La Plata County Cattlemen’s Scholarship Fund.

Harris Receives Club 20 Award

Steve Harris, with Durango-based Harris Water Engineering recently received the prestigious Club 20 Preston Walker award named for a former publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. The annual award is presented for service and dedication to the organization.

BOR Flow Recommendation Changes Proposed, by Steve Harris, Harris Water Engineering

An important component of the recovery of the endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback Sucker in the San Juan River is the magnitude and pattern of flows in the critical habitat downstream of Farmington. The first development of the flows was in 1999 that  primarily focused on the quantity of water and timing of releases from Navajo Reservoir. Also in 1999, a range of equally important flow ranges were estimated to be beneficial to recovery of the fish: base flows of 500 to 1000 cfs; peak intermediate flows of 2500/5000/8000 cfs; and peak flow of 10,000 cfs or more. The outlet works at Navajo Dam cannot release more than 5,000 cfs so in order to obtain flows downstream of Farmington approaching 10,000 cfs, Navajo releases need to be matched with high Animas River flows (i.e. spring runoff). 

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

In early January the Durango City Council signed a resolution supporting the delivery of water from Lake Nighthorse to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “This water would really help our future,” Chairman Manuel Heart said. The resolution stemmed from a series of recent meetings between city officials and the tribe about the potential recreational use of Lake Nighthorse. The city will likely send the resolution to Colorado’s US senators and House members to help support the tribe as it seeks funding for infrastructure to deliver the water. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has water rights to about 31 percent of the water stored in the lake. The additional water would allow for greater economic development on the reservation.

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