Trout group: Shoshone deal short-sighted
GLENWOOD SPRINGS A deal to maintain flows in the Colorado River for the benefit of fish and the rafting industry doesn’t go far enough, according to an attorney for Trout Unlimited.The Colorado River District last week announced the agreement, which will maintain flows on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon through October at sufficient levels to protect endangered fish and ensure the rafting industry can continue running boats on the river during the shutdown of the Shoshone hydroelectric plant in the canyon.Groups on both sides of the Continental Divide agreed to shoot for flows of 1,200 cubic feet per second in the canyon through Labor Day, and 810 cfs for endangered fish in the Grand Junction area through October.The agreement fails to address adequate flows in the Colorado to protect its fishery come late fall and winter, according to Mely Whiting, an attorney for Trout Unlimited who concentrates on Colorado water issues. Trout Unlimited has a Colorado chapter, but is a national group focused on trout and salmon habitat conservation.”The deal is not complete. There’s a piece missing,” she said.Whiting said Tuesday she is working to call various entities back to the table to establish a plan to keep sufficient water flowing in the river this winter, assuming Shoshone is not back on line by then. The plant, currently closed for repairs, has a senior water right dating back to 1905 that has traditionally helped maintain adequate water flows for the Glenwood-area rafting industry through the summer.But Williams Fork Reservoir, which the Denver Water Board operates, typically releases water in late fall and winter, as well. That release is in question, given Shoshone’s status, Whiting said.”If the Shoshone call is not on, we’re not sure how much water will be released,” she said.Protecting trout habitat in the upper Colorado, below Williams Fork in Grand County, through the winter is the group’s goal, she said.