Colorado: Permits for river trips through Dinosaur National Monument going online

dbf

Floating past Tiger Wall on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Changes will enable boaters to apply for four launch dates

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Starting this year. boaters looking to garner a permit for the popular trip through Dinosaur National Monument will be able to apply online instead of via snail mail at Recreation.gov.

The application period runs Dec. 1, 2013 through Jan. 31, 2014 for high-season multi-day trips, and the online application system also opens up some new opportunities for boaters. Recreation.gov does require each applicant to register and create a profile with their unique email address and a password so that they can process payments.  Continue reading

Feds eye changes to Colorado River endangered fish conservation program

Recovery team eyes White River Basin

sdf

The Colorado pikeminnow is one of four endangered species that could benefit from a proposed new plan to boost flows during critical seasons. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Summit Voice

*More Summit Voice stories on the Colorado River native fish conservation program are online here.

FRISCO — State and federal biologists are considering some changes to the Colorado River Native Fish Recovery Program in the White River Basin after a discussion with stakeholders.

The endangered fish — colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail — are already protected in the White River Basin, according to The Nature Conservancy. The changes would be a firming up of management expectations.

A similar approach has been used in other basins to ensure that current and future water needs are met for people and endangered fish.  The White River management plan aims to:

  • identify existing and some level of future water depletions;
  • develop current hydrology and projected depletions to identify the effects of past and future water development on endangered fish habitat;
  • identify the role of the White River in recovery of endangered fish;
  • identify flow recommendations for endangered fish habitat in the White River; and
  • identify a broad range of recovery actions to be carried out by the Recovery Program to support a recovered endangered fish population in the White River.  Continue reading

Colorado River fish tracking goes high tech

Federal biologists partner with Utah pipeline company to install electronic monitoring antenna in the White River

The endangered Colorado pikeminnow is known to migrate up to 200 miles to spawn. The installation of a remote sensing antenna in the White River will enable researchers to determine their presence in the fishes’ historic range. Photo courtesy Joe Ferreira.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Biologists working to recover native Colorado River fish are going high tech this summer with installation of a thermoplastic antenna on the bottom of the White River in Utah. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently outlined the status of the recovery program in an annual report.

The antenna will register signals when specially tagged fish pass by, helping biologists with the recovery program gain a better understanding of how the fish are using the river. it also eliminates the stress associated with repeated capture and release.

The antenna will detect any endangered Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail and humpback chub that have a PIT tag,, (like those placed in a dog or cat at a veterinary clinic for individual identification). Continue reading

Feds issue report card on Colorado River fish recovery

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ben Schleicher holds an endangered bonytail captured in the Gunnison River in western Colorado in 2011. Bonytail are being raised in hatcheries and stocked in Upper Colorado River Basin rivers in an effort to establish self-sustaining populations. PHOTO COURTESY UPPER COLORADO RIVER ENDANGERED FISH RECOVERY PROGRAM.

Oil pipeline breaks, nonnative fish and low flows seen as key threats to recovery efforts

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials say they are generally satisfied with the progress on recovering four native Colorado River fish species, but concerned that the impacts of the 2012 drought could result in some setbacks to the program.

Issuing a “sufficient progress”memo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week that, “with continued cooperation by all Recovery Program participants, the Recovery Program will continue to make significant strides toward recovery of the four endangered fishes.”

But flows are a significant concern, especially in dry years.

“The Recovery Program still struggles to meet flow recommendations in drought years. The Service emphasizes the importance of meeting the flow recommendation,” according to the memo, which also says that the Colorado Water Conservation Board has not yet provided a required depletion accounting report. Continue reading

Colorado: Groundbreaking water deal to boost Yampa flows

The Yampa River. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Short-term leasing program program authorized under 2003 law

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The dim outlook for the Yampa River in this summer of drought just got a little brighter, thanks to a water deal announced this week by the Colorado Water Trust, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Under a law passed back in 2003 in response to the last serious statewide drought, the water trust will lease 4,000 acre feet of water stored in Stagecoach Reservoir to try and sustain some flows in the Yampa, in the worst-case scenario potentially preventing the river from going dry.

The water will be released strategically to meet hydropower demands and for streamflow benefits below the reservoir. The water trust has been working on the short-term water leasing pilot program, Request for Water 2012, for about three months. Continue reading

Colorado: Some rivers, fish already on life support

Wildlife managers implement voluntary fishing closure on the Yampa

Some Colorado rivers and streams will take a hit from the drought this summer, but fishing should be fine at high elevation reservoirs like Clinton Gulch.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — During what should be the peak of the runoff season, some of Colorado’s streams and river are already on life support, including the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, where state officials have asked anglers to observe a voluntary fishing closure.

The closure will be in effect from the upstream boundary of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area downstream through the city limits of Steamboat Springs, and anglers are asked to avoid this area.

Ron Velarde, regional manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said the closure is voluntary for now and anglers are asked to avoid fishing there during the hottest part of the day, or preferably, to fish in other areas. If conditions worsen and several criteria established by regulation are met, a strict emergency closure enforced by law may become necessary. Continue reading

Colorado: Low flows hit endangered fish recovery efforts

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological technician Rick Smaniotto captured this endangered Colorado pikeminnow in a fish passage at the Redlands Water and Power Company Diversion Dam on the Gunnison River near Grand Junction, Colo., on July 3, 2002. The fish weighed 16.8 pounds and measured 37 inches. After collecting research data, the fish was tagged and returned to the river. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

Agencies won’t be able to operate crucial fish passages this summer

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Historic low river flows already have put the squeeze on endangered native Colorado River fish in key tributaries like the Yampa, and the fish could take another hit because there won’t be enough water during parts of the summer to operate fish passages that enable species like the Colorado pikeminnow to reach spawning areas.

Along with the pikeminnow, the razorback sucker, bonytail and humpback chub are listed as endangered and under the jurisdiction of a cooperative, federal-led recovery effort. The four fish once ranged widely throughout the Colorado River Basin, but construction of dams and massive diversions destroyed most of their habitat. The native fish have also faced fierce competition from non-native fish. Continue reading

BLM finalizes plan for northwest Colorado lands

The Vermillion Basin in northwest Colorado will be protected from energy development under a new BLM management plan for the area. PHOTO COURTESY CENTER FOR NATIVE ECOSYSTEMS/ROCKY MOUNTAIN WILD.

Vermillion Basin protected; 22 miles of Yampa  identified as suitable for wild and scenic status

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new plan for 2.3 million acres BLM lands in northwestern Colorado protects some of the region’s natural resources but still leaves 90 percent of the land open to potential oil and gas drilling.

In a key victory for conservation groups and local residents, the prized 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin will be protected, along with Cold Springs Mountain, and the Diamond Breaks. The plan also found that 22 miles of the Yampa River are suitable for inclusion in the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers system, good news for the thousands of visitors that come to the region every year to float or fish on this iconic western river.

“While we are pleased to see Vermillion Basin protected, we are dismayed that the plan still opens around 90 percent of the resource area to oil and gas drilling, leaving 10 percent for the myriad other uses of these amazing lands,” said Soren Jespersen of The Wilderness Society. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,975 other followers