‘It can be kind of political’
A community facing the loss of hundreds of jobs as nearby coal-fired power plants and coal mines are set to be decommissioned is investing in the Yampa River as the backbone of future economic growth.
Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett visited Craig, located about 90 miles north of Rifle, in her reporting for our story first published in the Craig Press on Friday about proposed river corridor improvements along the Yampa as it flows past town. The plan to add amenities in support of recreation is “part of a multi-pronged approach to help rural Moffat County transition from an extraction-based economy to one that includes outdoor and river recreation as one of its main pillars,” Sackett writes.
The $2.7 million project includes boat ramps, parking areas, river channel improvements and man-made waves, which have been created in “whitewater parks” across Colorado. These engineered waves often are associated with a “recreational in-channel diversion” (RICD) water right, which could protect river flows from future water development projects.
But the jury is still out on whether or not local officials will pursue the water right for Craig. Such rights have been controversial in the past, with water providers in Aurora and Colorado Springs challenging the size of Glenwood Springs’ RICD application, warning in 2015 that it would “dramatically and adversely affect the future of water use in the Colorado River drainage.” (Glenwood eventually made concessions to satisfy opposers.) According to Craig’s city manager, officials are looking closely at the RICD concept, and finding that “it can be kind of political.”
Whether or not a new water right is associated with the project, there’s hope that making the river more accessible will help foster the community’s identity in a future where the industries of the past have faded.
Also this week, Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle’s Tracking the Curve posts showed continuing low COVID-19 case numbers in Eagle and Pitkin counties. However, in Garfield County, where a variant originating in India has been discovered, 21 new cases have been reported since Wednesday and there’s been an increase in hospitalizations. Nearby Mesa County has one of the highest seven-day incidence rates in the state at 234 per 100,000 people.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
Craig betting on Yampa River to help transition from coal economy
By Heather Sackett | June 11, 2021
Although city officials are moving forward with plans to build the whitewater park, they are — for now at least — forgoing a step that could help protect their newly built asset and keep water in the river.
Tracking the Curve
By Laurine Lassalle | June 11, 2021
Garfield County reported 21 new cases since Wednesday and has seen a spike in hospitalizations this week. Nearby Mesa County has one of the highest incidence rates in the state.
‘Red alert’: Lake Mead falls to record-low level, a milestone in Colorado River’s crisis
“Its surface reached a new low Wednesday night when it dipped past the elevation of 1,071.6 feet, a record set in 2016. But unlike that year, when inflows helped push the lake levels back up, the watershed is now so parched and depleted that Mead is projected to continue dropping next year and into 2023.”
Source: azcentral.com | Read more
State tax official who is required to be neutral advised luxury resort owners on how to minimize property taxes
“The argument raised by the hotels involves privately owned units, which the hotels say should be assessed as residences, not commercial properties. … The county argues that since the units often are rented like hotel rooms, they should be part of an assessment as a commercial property. The distinction can mean millions in tax payments.”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
With new law, Las Vegas water agency bets on ‘aggressive municipal water conservation measure’ to remove decorative turf, conserve Colorado River supply
“Roerink, who leads the Great Basin Water Network, said it was not lost on him that the business community, including homebuilders and the Vegas Chamber, came out in strong support of the legislation to remove decorative turf. But he warned about the rush to put conserved water back into use for homes or new developments.”
Source: thenevadaindependent.com | Read more
The secret IRS files: Trove of never-before-seen records reveal how the wealthiest avoid income tax
The results are stark. According to Forbes, the 25 richest Americans saw their worth rise a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That’s a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4%.
Source: propublica.org | Read more
The drought in the western U.S. is getting bad. Climate change is making it worse
“Almost half the country’s population is facing dry conditions. Soils are parched. Mountain snowpacks produce less water. Wildfire risk is already extreme. The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, is headed to its lowest level since it was first filled in the 1930s.”
Source: npr.org | Read more
Mullins mulls her eight years of service to Aspen residents
“A 2012 article by Aspen Journalism revealed that the city was maintaining its right to build dams over 150 feet tall and reservoirs in the upper ends of both Castle and Maroon creek valleys, in protected wilderness areas. … Because of that press coverage and legal challenges by those who live along the creeks, the city found alternative storage sites, including the purchase of a gravel pit in Woody Creek.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
North Star floats not recommended due to frequent moose sightings east of Aspen
“Moose are territorial animals and will not run off at the sight of humans like bears or other animals, Quinn said. In addition, they are very quick, agile and large animals that can be unpredictable. Boaters can easily come upon the moose as they come around blind river bends and should be on their toes, especially when approaching areas of willows, he said.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
The Roundup | June 4, 2021 Edition
Aspen Journalism’s editor, Curtis Wackerle, on our history desk’s wondrous work and the scheming and innovation of the Hunter Creek corridor, plus the return of The Bucket. Read more
The Roundup | May 28, 2021 Edition
Covering the roundtables has long been central to Aspen Journalism’s mission and Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett filed a story this week about an interesting new development. Read more
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