State wildlife agency plans to allocate $6 million for dam improvements, storage agreements that meet wildlife and water needs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Division of Wildlife will look for ways to prioritize investments in water projects that will benefit wildlife and wildlife-related recreation while also help other entities and individuals who depend on water resources in the state. The Division intends to allocate at least $6 million for these types of projects over the next five years.
The state wildlife agency owns 104 dams and has a program to maintain existing facilities for safety, storage, and release. Officials have identified 17 dams and associated infrastructure in need of repairs and improvements and is seeking storage agreements, exchange-of-use agreements and other water projects with water providers and water users for this purpose.
The five-year program was announced a few weeks after State Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) proposed a bill that would have diverted revenue from hunting and fishing licenses to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The wildlife agency now says it will work with Becker to explore opportunities that will first and foremost benefit wildlife and wildlife recreation, but will also help other entities and individuals who depend on water resources in the state.
“In the face of budget issues that are creating challenges throughout state government, it is especially challenging to plan for increasing water demand while protecting natural resources over the long term,” Department of Natural Resources director Mike King said. “There is a lot of overlap between healthy wildlife habitat and what sportsmen and agricultural communities need. We welcome the opportunity to combine these goals and find ways to make limited state funding go further.”
“We have several critical water development needs, such as repairing the dam at Beaver Reservoir to allow us to store water again,” said Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington. ”We also have some great opportunities, such as reaching a storage agreement with Rio Grande Reservoir operators to store Division of Wildlife water critical to our needs in the San Luis Valley.”
“I am glad to see the Division of Wildlife seeking additional opportunities for water development that will benefit both wildlife and sportsmen,” Rep. Becker said. ”At the same time, the ancillary benefit to agricultural and other interests across the state is a win-win for all involved.”
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, wildlife Tagged: | Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Division of Wildlife, conservation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Mike King, San Luis Valley, Summit County Colorado, water, wildlife