Here's the January, 2015 Update. This is the first update, since meetings haven't started yet, it focuses on background information and the plans for moving forward.
LEARNING BY DOING
Members Participating: LBD committee: Denver Water, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Municipal Subdistrict), Colorado River Water Conservation District, Grand County, Middle Park Water Conservancy District, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited. Also attending meetings this year were the US Forest Service (Hot Sulphur District), Bureau of Reclamation and Grand County Water and Sanitation District #1. These representatives participate in an advisory capacity. they are not members of the LBD committee and cannot vote.
Implementation of LBD does not officially begin until after acceptable permits have been issued for the Moffat Project and the Windy Gap Firming Project. However, the LBD Committee unanimously decided to start limited operations before the permits are issued, including beginning the process of organization, prioritizing, continuing ongoing monitoring and outlining a long term monitoring plan. The LBD Committee has met six times in 2014.
The duties of establishing the structure of LBD have been divided between 2 committees. The Governing Committee meets to write the ground rules that LBD will operate by and to make final decisions. The Technical Committee meets to discuss the physical problems in each stream reach, make recommendations on specific monitoring in the troubled reaches, prioritize projects and oversee the projects recommended by the scientists doing the monitoring.
Work in 2014 has been to start identifying troubled reaches of stream. Cooperation has been very positive among all parties. Monitoring for temperature and macroinvertebrate counts have been conducted in 2014 and data collected will be submitted to the Grand County Stream Flow Management Plan. The GCSFMP is the guiding document that LBD is using to establish monitoring sites and potential project locations. DW is allowing this monitoring information to help set the baseline for existing river conditions which is very important because their EIS set the baseline after the future diversions take place. DW has been contributing to monitoring under the GCSTMP every year for the last 3 years. DW paid a third of the cost of the data collected in 2014, with the rest paid for by Grand County, Northern, the River District and Trout Unlimited. . The TU contribution came from National TU, Colorado TU and the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The Headwaters Chapter spent 40% of their annual income in 2014 on this stream monitoring. These contributions gave TU “skin in the game”, improving our ability to push for better, more comprehensive monitoring. At the first LBD meeting in 2015 the group will be discussing how all entities involved can help contribute to the 2015 monitoring programs that will help define the future of stream improvement projects. Northern and Denver have agreed to help fund monitoring before all of their permits are granted.
The representatives on LBD for TU are Mely Whiting, an attorney with National TU and Kirk Klancke, the President of the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Using his local knowledge of stream status in Grand County, Kirk participates on the Technical Committee and is presently one of the most vocal participants in helping all the agencies involved get up to speed on the issues. As legal counsel for TU from the beginning of the fight for fair mitigation, Mely sits on both committees. Her experience is invaluable in representing fairness for our heavily diverted rivers. Her participation in establishing the LBD structure and participating in the Technical Committee to make sure that we continue to move forward is paramount. She is one of the most outspoken participants on both committees. Mely’s funding comes from NTU who we are hoping will keep her on the Upper Colorado River project for at least the next 2 years while we are trying to get this plane off the ground. Helping NTU fund some of her time will help assure that they will assign her to these duties but it is no guarantee. There seems to be no shortage of rivers to fight for the West.
One of the main goals for the Headwaters Chapter in 2015 is to raise money that we can contribute to the LBD monitoring to assure that the baseline data used in LBD is pre Moffat Firming diversions. Our other goal is to work with NTU to come up with the funding that will keep Mely at the table and bring occasional expert scientific advise to help steer the process in the right direction until we are well down the road to success with LBD. It is evident that the pre negotiated mitigation was not the end of a long journey but the beginning of one.