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drought

Aspen Public Radio

While most local rivers are flowing at levels far below average, the Fryingpan is the exception. Releases from Ruedi Reservoir are supplementing low flows downstream, in the Colorado River.

Courtesy photo

This week, scientists are gathered in Aspen to discuss “flash droughts,” which last under 30 days. Dr. Roger Pulwarty, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be giving a public lecture Tuesday as part of the workshop put on by the Aspen Global Change Institute.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Earlier this month, Aspen City Council declared a stage 2 water shortage, restricting outdoor irrigation and water use. But several city properties are exempted from the rules.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

 

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Pitkin County is now experiencing severe-to-extreme drought and, on Monday, city council agreed to implement Stage Two water restrictions. It's the first time the city has taken this step, which is meant to protect area rivers and preserve the city’s water supply.

  This week: The triple threat of fire, droughts flooding throughout the valley.

www.instagram.com/packywestfeldt

Low water levels and high temperatures are causing stress to fish in the Roaring Fork Valley, so experts are asking anglers to stop fishing in the mid-afternoon.

www.instagram.com/packywestfeldt

Low river flows and hot weather could be particularly tough on area fish. A local organization is asking boaters and anglers to chip in on a science project aimed at protecting trout.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

The City of Aspen has cut back on irrigation at most parks across town to meet a goal of reducing water consumption by 10 to 15 percent. But Wagner Park, in the city core, is managed pretty differently.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Earlier this month, Aspen city council declared a "stage one" drought. This means the city is asking residents to voluntarily cut back on irrigation and water consumption and is requiring that city government do the same.

Marci Krivonen

Dry February weather melted snow in the high country, but snowpack levels are still substantial. A healthy level of snow up high is important for everyone down low, particularly farmers and ranchers. A crew of snow surveyors and high-tech systems are already sending readings about snowmelt. Marci Krivonen explains.

It’s a calm and sunny February day at 8700 feet above sea level. Snow surveyor Derrick Wyle plunges a long metal tube into deep snow on McClure Pass, south of Carbondale.

Marci Krivonen

High school students from around the valley got a lesson on drought and water scarcity in the West Thursday. The organization Ecoflight brought in experts, and college students just returned from a flight over the Colorado River basin. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

droughtmonitor.unl.edu

Even with all of the recent rain and snow in Western Colorado, the region continues to be in a drought. Some areas have “severe drought” conditions, including the southwest section of Pitkin County. Wildfire season typically gets underway in May and June. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Doug Paul from the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit about the wildfire outlook.

Doug Paul is with the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit, which manages fire on federal lands. 

Creative Commons/Flickr/TheBoyFromFindlay

The Garfield County Commissioners are working to send a powerful message that they’re against new transmountain diversions. 

The commissioners are organizing a meeting of Western Slope elected leaders to draw up a unified message ahead of the completion of Governor Hickenlooper’s statewide water plan. Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky:

Ruedi Water and Power Authority

An effort is underway to get people to conserve water across the Roaring Fork Valley. On Tuesday a public meeting will be held in El Jebel on the Regional Water Efficiency Plan.

For more than a year, major water suppliers in the Valley like the Cities of Aspen and Glenwood Springs, have been creating their own water efficiency plans. Those plans make up a larger effort. It lays out ways to use less water.

West Slope Back On Drought Index

In the dry month of January, snowpack levels in nearly every river basin in Colorado declined. In the Roaring Fork Valley, not only did the amount of snow diminish but drought conditions returned. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday puts the Western Slope in the “abnormally dry” category, including the majority of Eagle and Pitkin Counties and all of Garfield County. “Abnormally dry” is the least severe of five categories.

Colorado River Water Conservation District

NOTE: In the on-air version of this story we incorrectly stated the date of a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announcement about Colorado River cut-backs to lower basin states. That announcement happened in 2013, not this year. (8/26/14)

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced this month water releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead will increase next year, after historically low releases in 2014. Lake Mead has reached record low levels this summer. The Colorado River supplies these large reservoirs. At a water conference in Snowmass Village last week, drought and the Colorado River were discussed. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Marci Krivonen

This Fall, a local river conservation group is keeping a close eye on the Fryingpan River. This follows last year's drought that brought the levels on the river down. The low flows affected fish, aquatic insects and possibly the local economy. The Fryingpan is considered Gold Medal fishing waters. It draws people from around the world to fly fish there. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

CU Boulder

Large swathes of spruce forests in the Northern Colorado mountains are dying due to the Spruce Beetle. Now, researchers are linking these massive beetle outbreaks to drought. The beetles’ impact on forests has the potential to be more devastating in Colorado than the mountain pine beetle. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Sarah Hart, the lead author of the study. She says her team went over 300 years of drought data.

Facebook/Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District

The Red Canyon Fire burning southeast of Glenwood Springs didn’t see any growth yesterday. Favorable weather and more resources allowed firefighters to get a handle on the blaze. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

So far, about 390 acres have burned in the rugged area, three miles outside of Glenwood Springs. As of yesterday evening, nearly 30 percent of the fire had been contained.

Colorado River Fire Rescue

Residents who were evacuated near Rifle for a wildfire, were allowed to return to their homes yesterday. The Ward Gulch Fire north of town has burned about 480 acres and forced the closure of the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, which is managed by the state. The public is not allowed into Rifle Falls State Park. Helicopters have been dipping into the nearby Rifle Gap reservoir to fight the flames.

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