Colorado

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Colorado’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan: 2019-2023

Colorado Parks & Wildlife, in conjunction with the Colorado Outdoor Partnership, have finalized a 5-year plan which has the goal of continuing to develop Colorado’s outdoor recreational industry, introducing more Coloradans to the outdoors, and also maintaining environmental and cultural conservation.

The 5-year plan lays out four priorities which will help it achieve it’s goal.

  • Maintain and enhance sustainable access and opportunity for all Coloradans to enjoy the outdoors
  • Create a stewardship of care amongst Coloradans and visitors for our outdoors
  • Conservation of land, water, and wildlife for future generations
  • Create sustainable funding for Colorado’s outdoor future

This 5-year plan is fantastic news on all fronts. From a financial perspective, Colorado’s outdoor industry is responsible for 511,000 jobs in the state, $37 billion in consumer spending, and $21 billion in wages paid to Coloradans. So it’s absolutely imperative that we maintain our outdoor industry.

The plan also lays out environmental conservational steps which will help sustain the state’s natural beauty in the face of population growth and other environmental threats.

As departing Gov. John Hickenlooper recently stated, “Outdoor recreation opportunities contribute to increased quality of life, economic prosperity, and the health of Colorado communities and residents.” Regardless of where you fall on Hickenlooper’s other policies, he’s spot-on on this one. Colorado’s future is tied hand-in-hand to its outdoor/environmental policies.

As Coloradans, regardless of our political affiliation, we should support this measure. Protecting our outdoors, while planning for our future financial stability is the type of move that unites all of us together.

The Colorado River Basin’s Great Crisis

The Colorado River Basin– which supplies water across 7 states and roughly 40 million residents– is in serious drought and in danger of running dry.

Red signifies extreme drought while dark red signifies exceptional drought.

From Colorado, and westward to California, the amount of water taken from the Colorado River is far outpacing the supply that Mother Nature is giving us. Many of us that ski during the winter, fish during run-off, or farm on the Western Slope have known that moisture levels haven’t been up to par recently. But a recent study by The Colorado River Research Group stated that the current and prolonged drought that the entire river basin is in shouldn’t even be considered a drought, because the word drought implies that the condition is temporary. Rather, their data shows that those of us that live in the multi-state Colorado River Basin are in a period of aridification. Which basically means that hotter and dryer conditions are here to stay. If you look at the most recent drought map published in late December 2018, by the US Drought Monitor, it doesn’t take a scientific eye to see that much of our state is hurting for more moisture.

Climate change, population growth, and mismanaged water supplies have led to this dire situation. From the year 2000 to 2014, the Colorado River experienced drought conditions that scientists say is unrivaled in the past 1,250 years. Couple that with population growth– which requires more drinking water to be drawn from the river for cities and more water used for agricultural production– and you’ll find a situation where the river and it’s reservoirs are disappearing. Lake Powell, located in southern Utah, is currently sitting at 48% capacity while Lake Mead, just outside of Las Vegas, NV, is at a dangerously low 38% of capacity. Here’s another scary number from a NASA led study, dating from 2004 to 2013, concluded that the river basin lost 17.3 trillion gallons of water! Compounding the issue even further, 75% of that lost water in the river basin is actually from ground water aquifers. That’s especially bad because ground water is irreplaceable– once it’s used it’s gone.

The new normal in Colorado River Basin reservoirs

The good news is that this problem is not going unrecognized. 6 of the 7 river basin states have agreed to sign drought contingency plans (DCPs), which would limit each state’s water consumption in the hopes of re-filling reservoirs before they reach critically low levels. Arizona is the only state which has yet to come to an agreement ratifying their DCP.

Regardless of if, or when, the 7 Colorado River Basin states implement a drought contingency plan, it’s not a long-term solution. It’s exactly what it says it is– a contingency plan. Contingencies are last case scenarios to avoid disaster.

We as Coloradans, and as a society, need to realize that this aridification that is strangling the American West is the new normal. Key studies show that the world is hotter and dryer which makes water storage and management more important than ever before. Our water planning and storage cannot be managed based on the assumption that precipitation is going to solve our problem.

We must conserve and reuse our water, carry out more efficient agricultural practices, and replace the hydroelectric energy created by Lakes Mead and Powell with other clean energies. Our quality of life and possible existence depend on immediate action.

Spread the word. Make personal changes. Call your local political leaders. This issue is too important to be ignored.

Colorado First Day Hikes

I have a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions I should tackle but one of them at the very top of the list is to not feel like complete death on New Year’s day. Cause nothing brings in the new year better than nursing a massive hangover, right?

Colorado Parks & Wildlife is here to help! Over 30 state parks will be offering free organized hikes on New Year’s day. Most of the parks will have raffles for various prizes as well.

The organized hikes are free but participants must have a park pass. Daily passes are $8.00 per vehicle while the annual pass is $80.00.

What sounds better: waking up on New Year’s day to a pounding headache, a lighter wallet, and possibly a few regrets from the night before or enjoying the beautiful panoramic view atop Carpenter Peak in Roxborough Park? Yeah, first day hike it is!

A complete list of participating parks can be found here.

Colorado’s Current Snow Pack Levels

Let’s start by saying this; snow is important! Nothing is better than shredding 80″ of fresh pow pow, but the snow we need is for far more important reasons than a good day on the mountain.

The snow that is accumulated over winter will in turn melt into our rivers and will irrigate our farms, become drinking water, and help keep our rivers healthy. It can’t be stated enough how important our winter snow pack is to all of us.

As of this writing, 5 of the state’s 8 river basins are above 100% of average. That is good. But not nearly good enough to help bump us out of the statewide drought we find ourselves in. The three river basin’s in the southwestern part of the state are hurting for more moisture.

Us mere mortals can’t change the forecast for more snow but we can stay up to date on the snow pack levels and conserve this precious resource as we wait for more snow to come.

Hiring Fly Fishing Guides for 2019 Season

Are you looking to get into the fly fishing industry for the first time? Are you a knowledgeable angler but lacking guide experience? Are you an experienced guide looking to join the Front Range’s best team? Do you have what it takes to deliver excellent fly fishing service and instruction?

We are hiring professional fly fishing guides, both new to the profession and seasoned veterans alike, to join our Denver based operation. For those new to guiding we offer top-notch training and for those that have been in the industry you’ll quickly realize what an opportunity this is.

Our philosophy aims to deliver the finest customer service, friendliest smile, and best fly fishing instruction that the Front Range has to offer. This is a fantastic opportunity to make great money, meet awesome clients, and guide on Colorado’s beautiful waters.

Please email me your resume and why you’d be a good fit. Make sure that you include a phone number and email address so I can contact you immediately. Tight lines!

Mike@theflyfisher.com

847-612-4961

Public Land Leasing in the American West

The fact of the matter is that we as American’s are a divided people right now. Left vs Right, Snowflake vs Fascist, Clintonista vs Trumpette. Labels too loosely thrown around from one side to another, but which underscore the fissure in our society. And now Western states, Colorado included, face another divisive issue; the leasing of public land for the development of oil and gas drilling.

Do current economic gains outweigh future loss of lands and environmental degradation?

The Department of the Interior will begin a 2.4 million acre auction of public lands in the American West over the next couple of months to oil and gas companies.

At the heart of the matter, we have to ask ourselves this very important question: do the economic gains of drilling, fracking, and refinement outweigh the loss of public land usage and the environmental consequences that come with it?

Proponents of leasing public land will point to American energy independence, job creation, and economic surpluses that will go to each individual state that leases their land. In Colorado alone, oil and gas revenue from publicly leased land produced $2.3 billion in 2017.

Opponents will argue that the loss of land that Theodore Roosevelt promised future generations is irreplaceable. They will also argue that many of the parcels of land up for auction are directly adjacent to precious national parks like *the Great Sand Dunes here in Colorado or the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. There were 619 reported oil and gas spills in 2017, up 17% from the previous year, in Colorado alone. That combined to spill 93,000 gallons of oil into our state’s environment.

This is where it becomes sticky. Where do your priorities lay? The economic gains Colorado could see will help develop our infrastructure, add a much needed boost to our schools, and of course, create many more jobs. But an important question us Coloradans need to ask ourselves, government agencies, and elected officials is this; is there evidence of our enormously important outdoor tourism/recreational economy taking a hit from land lost that used to be used for hiking, hunting, fishing, mountain biking and so on?

If there is one statement I can make with certainty it is this; we as humans are flawed. There will be errors and mistakes in the drilling/fracking process. It is not an if but rather a when. Can we live with ourselves knowing we were the generation that didn’t give this beautiful land of ours to our grandchildren?

This is an issue that needs dialogue and input. Engage your fellow Coloradan about this very important issue. But in doing so, try and be open-minded and open to other’s opinions. For make no mistake about it this issue of leasing public lands, one way or another, will affect our state and country for years to come. And remind yourself, we live in the greatest country on earth. We, The People, shape the direction of our future. Get involved. Please.

Colorado State Land Board

Colorado Bureau of Land Management 

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner

*Colorado’s Bureau of Land Management originally planned to auction the right’s on September 6th, 2018. The BLM decided to consult with the Navajo Nation, which owns land in the area, before deciding whether to sell drilling rights on 29 square miles of public land just east of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. 

 

 

Colorado Voluntary Fishing Closures

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued two new voluntary fishing closures around the state. They are asking anglers to stop fishing from noon through 6:00 am for the Conejos River and the Arkansas tail water below Pueblo Reservoir.

Extremely low flows combined with overly warm temperatures has raised the water temperatures in each river to dangerously high levels for trout survival.

Any time a river’s water temperature reaches 68 degrees and above that is the threshold to where all anglers should cease trout fishing. It is at that point that there has been too much oxygen dissolved in the river for a trout to be successfully released. Carp, bass, walleye and other warm water species are still good to be targeted but catching a trout at that water temperature will likely end in their death.

Voluntary closures remain in place in the following rivers: The Eagle, Roaring Fork, White River, Colorado from State Bridge to Rifle, Fraser River, Crystal River, Tomichi Creek, and Rio Grande River.

Please stay tuned for the latest updates on all rivers.

Fishing The Big Thompson River

Anglers please beware, as of this writing, the water temperature measured on the Big Thompson river is peaking at 71 degrees. We want to give notice to the entire Colorado fishing community that the river is reaching critically hot water temperatures. Please do not fish this river, or any river, once the temperature reaches 68 degrees and above.

As we reported earlier in the month, monitoring the water temperature of your river is very important in these types of conditions. The fact is, Colorado is in a severe drought so there isn’t a lot of water flowing through our rivers and the current heat wave we find ourselves in is exacerbating the situation.

When the river does reach the breaking point, 68 degrees and above, it does not mean that you have to hang up the rod. High alpine lakes and small creeks are still great options, with half of the angling pressure to boot.

For the sake of our river’s entire eco-system, thank you for your consideration.

Happy Colorado Day!

Our beautiful state is celebrating it’s 142nd birthday today! Colorado Day is a day for Coloradans to come together and celebrate our unique history as well as our beautiful outdoors that we all love and cherish.

one of our many beautiful state parks that will have free admission on 08/06/18

There are numerous museums offering free admission through their gates today, such as: The Colorado History Museum, El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, and the Fort Garland Museum down in the San Luis Valley.

In honor of Colorado Day, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be offering free admission to all state parks on Monday, Aug. 6th.

Today is a good day to get out on a hike or hit one of our many rivers and give a friendly hello and wave to your fellow Coloradan.

Happy birthday, Colorado!

 

Animas River Fish Kill

The 416 Fire, which up to this point has burned nearly 54,000 acres in the Durango area, reared it’s ugly head again this week. Massive rains hit the area on Tuesday causing mudslides to hit the river and fill the beautiful Animas river with ash, mud, and all sorts of debris. This has sparked a massive fish kill in the Animas River as rainbow and brown trout, along with flannel mouth and blue head suckers, struggle to find oxygen in the depleted river.

The affected section of river spans 15 miles north of Durango all the way down into New Mexico.

The fish of the Animas River are fighting for every breath they take right now

At this point, biologists are estimating the kill to be in the thousands of fish, but a clearer picture will not be available until the river’s flow subsides and clarity returns– which could be as late as September.

The cause of the 416 Fire is still under investigation but this travesty is the result of a wildfire in a very dry part of the state. Unfortunately, we are seeing way too many of these wildfires in our beautiful state. From one Coloradan to another, heck, from one human being to another– please do not have any camp fires this Summer and please exercise extreme caution when in Colorado’s outdoors this Summer. There is too much on the line for every one of us that live here, and our wildlife included, for reckless and irresponsible behavior.