Dear Friends of the Gunnison River Basin,
As I sit here writing this the temperature at the ranch at 7:00 am is minus 22 degrees.
We are debating whether or not the thermometer is malfunctioning…prior to this, it hasn’t been so cold, more like minus 3-4 degrees, so we have been lucky so far.
This is agriculture in the Upper Gunnison Basin; cattle need fed, vehicles don’t want to start, the wood pile all of a sudden doesn’t look big enough and all the projects you wanted to do just went on hold for the next several months.
In many ways I am glad for the winter setting in because that means this year is finally coming to an end. We are so thankful that no one in our immediate family has contracted Covid-19. I am so ready for the nagging apprehension to be done with and for life free of constant disruption to return.
Although cattle prices were not great when we sold our yearlings this fall – the business is hanging in there. I can’t imagine being a restaurant owner in Gunnison – outdoor dining is not an option here for a good 6-8 months out of the year! I honestly don’t know how our local businesses will survive this.
In addition to the sense of concern every time someone coughs while I am in the grocery store line, I am haunted by drought map images with red areas that seemingly continue to expand. This is on top of heartbreaking newspaper stories that recount the loss of the fruit crops in the Grand Valley, the low levels at Lake Powell, the fires adjacent to our waterways, the dry range country here and the loss of productive ag land. And Colorado’s population has increased 54% in the last 25 years, with no end in sight.
Ok, so are there any bright spots to talk about this holiday season?
I still say “yes”!
The voters recently approved the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s proposed mil levy increase. This new revenue will be redistributed back to communities and water users to address infrastructure needs within the 15-county District that includes the entire Gunnison River Basin.
The timing couldn’t have been better, now with near elimination of funding that the state used to provide for water-related improvements, due to Covid. Even though the state’s resources have diminished, the needs have not. Thanks to the excellent vision and leadership on the part of the River District – this new funding opportunity comes in the nick of time and will be much appreciated.
I think the coming year will be a good one. I hope that in time we will be able to see each other in person again – I sure do miss that!
I also hope that everyone is getting through this situation ok, it is bound to get better.
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter, and thank you to Dave Kanzer and Martha Moore for their efforts to produce it. Especially in these trying times and at this time of year, it is so important to value and appreciate all of our friends of the Gunnison Basin.
Happy New Year to All!
Kathleen Curry, Gunnison Basin Roundtable Chairperson
Recent Water News
STATEWIDE EDUCATION ACTION PLAN ENDORSED
At last month’s Gunnison Basin Roundtable public meeting. Water Education Colorado’s Executive Director, Jayla Poppleton and Education and Outreach Coordinator, Scott Williamson gave an overview of the state’s Statewide Education Action Plan (SWEAP), a 5-year plan that aims to strengthen local and regional water education activities through a shared vision to advance Colorado’s water plan. Recognizing the value of the SWEAP vision and framework, the voting members of the roundtable unanimously voted to formally endorse SWEAP. More information.
GUNNISON RIVER, WITH ELEVATED SELENIUM LEVELS. FACES REVIEW FOR RECLASSIFICATION
State water-quality officials will soon evaluate whether two water-improvement programs in the Gunnison River basin have successfully reduced a chemical that is toxic to endangered fish. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Division is analyzing five years of data on selenium levels in the Gunnison, where heightened selenium and salinity have harmed Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker populations.
Gunnison Basin Roundtable, Monday, January 18th, 4:00-6:30pm
Please join us via GoToMeeting
Nine basin roundtables were established by the state to facilitate discussions on water management and strive for locally-driven collaborative solutions. Your participation is encouraged.
Additional Water-Related Events & Opportunities
Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District Board Meeting – January 18, via Zoom conference
Colorado Water Conservation Board Meeting – January 25-26, streamed live via YouTube
Funding Opportunities in the Gunnison River Basin
GRANT FUNDING FOR WATER USE EFFICIENCY PROJECTS
The Colorado River District, in association with the Delta Conservation District, is making up to $500K available to qualifying agricultural producers for planning and potential implementation of irrigation efficiency improvement projects in the Lower Gunnison Basin.
Landowners within the Bostwick Park, North Fork, Crawford, and Uncompahgre Valley areas will be considered for grant funding for projects that that increase water use efficiency. More info.
Looking for more water projects funding that help improve and conserve water and land resources? Check out our website: GunnisonRiverBasin.org, for info on Colorado Water Plan Grants, US Department of Agriculture federal grants and loans, and Colorado Water Conservation Board state grants and loans.
River Resources and Social Media Connections
River levels and real-time data, Facebook and Twitter.
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We are always looking for feedback, water news & event information. Please send thoughts & contributions to [email protected]. Thank you!