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Colorado: Snowmaking impacts Snake River flows

Massive Snake River snowmaking diversions means tough times for trout after drought summer

This year’s snowpack is well below average and tracking just barely above last year’s.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The most recent snowstorm helped boost the overall Colorado snowpack just a bit, bringing it on par with last year’s level at this time, which is still well below average for mid-November. Statewide, the snowpack was at 57 percent of average, as of Nov. 15, with most West Slope basins between 50 and 60 percent of average. Even the North Platte drainage, which has seen some significant snows in the Never Summer Range, is only at 64 percent of average.

In Summit and Eagle counties, many streams are flowing at or below historic low levels, creating challenges for some ski areas that rely on direct stream diversions for snowmaking. Keystone, for example, has had to dial back its snow guns several times in the past week as the Snake River dropped to a flow of just six cubic feet per second, the minimum required under state regulations. Continue reading

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