Environmental briefs: Summit County hosts 22nd annual State of the River | SummitDaily.com

Environmental briefs: Summit County hosts 22nd annual State of the River

Summit County has been a sweet spot for snowpack this season, but the entire Colorado River Basin that feeds seven states can’t claim as much.

Inflow to Lake Powell is predicted to be 47 percent of average as the region enters its 16th year of drought. The reservoir’s declining water storage impacts the Upper Basin states, including Colorado, which use Lake Powell as a savings account for meeting Colorado River Compact water obligations to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada.

Continuing to pay out more from that account than what goes in is foretelling a crisis as low reservoir levels endanger power generation at Lake Powell and threaten the water supply for Las Vegas farther downstream at Lake Mead.

At the 22nd annual Summit County State of the River, the public can learn more about this issue and what it means for Colorado and the Southwest.

The meeting will go from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, at a new location this year, the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District, will discuss the hydrology causing the problem and a contingency plan the states on the Colorado River are formulating to avert a crisis.

Denver Water will present its plans for Dillon Reservoir operations and what they mean for Denver’s water supply and Summit County’s enjoyment of the lake. The Bureau of Reclamation will address its plans and forecasts for Green Mountain Reservoir.

Troy Wineland, Summit County’s water commissioner, will discuss local water conditions and priorities for local water administration. The Blue River Watershed Group will update the public on its initiatives in Summit.

For more information, contact water commissioner Troy Wineland, at troy.wineland@state.co.us or 970-355-4516, or Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River District, at jpokrandt@crwcd.org or 970-945-8522 x 236.

Polis’ Grand County ‘wedge’ bill passes

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) to protect a wedge of land between Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest.

The bill passed by a vote of 381-30, making it the first Democratic bill out of the House Natural Resources Committee to be approved by the full House.

The bill, titled the Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015, will incorporate 10 parcels of land into the Arapaho National Forest, enabling the U.S. Forest Service to preserve an area that serves millions annually as they travel west along the Trail Ridge scenic byway from the 13,000-foot apex of the Rocky Mountains to the destination town of Grand Lake.

“Protecting the wedge is critical to maintaining the natural beauty and recreational value of Rocky Mountain National Park and the adjacent Arapaho National Forest for future generations,” Polis said. “We’re thrilled by its bipartisan support and swift passage.”

This bill was supported by the Grand County Board of County Commissioners, the town of Grand Lake, the Headwaters Trails Alliance, Rocky Mountain Nature Conservancy and Conservation Colorado, along with all affected private landowners.

Time again to be bear aware, move for moose

Colorado’s bears have awoken from their winter hibernation and are again active throughout the state.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges residents in bear country to make sure they aren’t leaving any food or other attractants around homes.

To prevent unnecessary bear deaths, the agency recommends that residents, visitors and businesses keep garbage in well-secured enclosures, only put out garbage on the morning of pickup, take down bird feeders, attract birds instead with flowers and water baths, clean garbage cans regularly and freeze smelly items until trash day.

People should also keep pet food inside, secure compost piles, fully enclose bee hives and chicken coops, burn grease and odors off outdoor grills, clean thoroughly after eating outdoors, close unattended bottom-floor windows and avoid storing food or food containers in vehicle.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife also reminds people to give plenty of room to wildlife, especially moose.

The state’s moose population is thriving, which means increased chances for human interaction.

Moose are not typically aggressive but they do not fear humans and will defend their young and their territory. Dogs can provoke attacks because of their resemblance to wolves, a moose’s only natural predator.

People hiking in moose country are encouraged to keep their dogs on a leash. A charging moose will likely follow a dog running back to its owners and can end up injuring them as well.

Moose can grow up to 1,200 pounds and can run up to 35 miles per hour.

If a moose appears agitated — raised hackles, lowered head, ears back, swaying, licking snout — leave the area and avoid cornering the animal.

If charged, run and try to get behind a tree, vehicle or other large object. If knocked down, get up and try to get away; do not stay on the ground.

Send local environment news to reporter Alli Langley at alangley@summitdaily.com.

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