Lights are on…

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Hydromet site, from where data is pulled regarding flows on the river and other lake level information, is up, but queries aren’t working. It appears to have stopped about 7:45pm Friday night. The appropriate authorities have been notified, but no response. This is the Federal Gov’t after all, and it is SuperBowl weekend. Hopefully, things will be back up Monday. Until then river discharge and lake level graphs most likely won’t work.

San Juan gets some love

My friend and counterpart, Andy Novak, who is fighting the BOR on New Mexico’s San Juan River, finally was shown a little love. Andy’s a great guy and absolutely dedicated to that river, and I just want to wish him congrats and ask him to keep up the great work. Take a moment and read the followng article from The Daily Times. You’ll note they have half the number of angler days and hours than the Bighorn, and still figure the economic benefit from a healthy fishery to be $40 million. Way to go, Andy! Gov. loves San Juan River: Will introduce fishing improvement projects to LegislatureBy Steve Gill For The Daily TimesPosted: 01/14/2009 10:58:22 PM MSTDuring his press conference at San Juan College on Wednesday, Governor Bill Richardson spoke briefly about his administration’s plans to help restore the San Juan River. Richardson visited the famous fishery in October, and told the press conference crowd that he had a wonderful day on the water with his buddies, the guides. Farmington was the first stop on the governor’s sweep of the state as he outlines his initiatives for the upcoming legislative session. Nearly a dozen San Juan River fishing guides attended the conference, and listened as the governor described the San Juan as one of the crown jewels of the Four Corners, and the state, and promised a $400,000 allocation for river restoration and river habitat improvements. The state of New Mexico already has spent $400,000 on habitat improvement projects in the San Juan, including placing of boulders and log jams. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Deputy Director, Robert Jenks, highlighted the fact that the San Juan is a premier fly fishing destination that attracts anglers from all over the world. He stated that the San Juan sees an estimated 300,000 hours of angling per year or 45,000 angler-days for an economic benefit of $40 million per year.Jenks believes the governor’s initiative will help the river by ensuring it is managed for the true value of its resources. He said future projects will be, in a broad sense, similar to previous projects and will include in-stream work, habitat enhancement and a plan for strategic water flows to help control siltation.The San Juan is one of the most famous trout rivers in the world and often ranked among the top ten fisheries by anglers and outdoor writers. In years past, the river was regarded by many to be the best trout stream in the world, based upon the concentration of fish and above average size of San Juan rainbows. However, beginning in the mid 90s, anglers and guides began reporting a decrease in both the numbers and size of trout caught in the river, a disturbing trend that has raised concerns about habitat degradation and siltation.Recent habitat projects and stocking programs have helped the San Juan fishery, but according to Concerned Citizens for The San Juan River Quality Trout Waters, the river is only a shadow of its former self. Andreas Novak, known as DryFly on various fishing message boards and online chat rooms, has spearheaded letter writing projects and meetings hoping to find support for changes in the management of the fishery. He often has cited low water flows and erosion as the main reasons for the decline of the San Juan. The Concerned Citizens and the San Juan River Guide Association are hoping Governor Richardson’s involvement will help restore the river to it’s glory days condition.San Juan River guides will aid the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in stocking 500 16-inch trout into the Quality Waters today. This stocking of fish, which are much larger than typical stockers, is the first step in the governor’s program for the river.

Long Term Issues Group Meeting

Thursday I joined FWP’s Ken Frazer and Brian Marotz along with Mark from DNRC for the trip to Lovell. The weather cooperated and the roads were excellent. We made it through Fromberg without a visit from local law enforcement this time. Anticipation was high as the results of the sedimentation study and raising the flood pool were on the agenda. It wasn’t much surprise that options regarding sedimentation were few although a number of solutions and/or band-aids were reviewed. In short, while some relief is possible, all are economically unfeasible or impossible. The study did show that higher lake levels will increase siltation in the Horseshoe Bend area and southward, while lower lake elevations will cause silt to be carried past HB. No one from Lovell seemed to favor lower lake elevations, so silt will continue to be a cancer for the south end of the lake until it eventually chokes the life from the south end of the lake. BOR’s Gordon Aycock has been working with FWP’s Brian Marotz to take advantage of the lessons learned on the VARQ model, and both men gave presentations that showed tremendous promise. Friends of the Bighorn River believes reservoir management based on a good set of rule curves will help take political pressure out of the equation and make life easier for all shareholders. In the afternoon, we heard some preliminary results of the study looking at raising the flood pool. While it shows promise, and BOR is optimistic the flood pool will be raised at least a few feet (if not all five feet), it will still be a while before any sort of approval comes from the Corps of Engineers. FOBR asked for two agenda items for next meeting: 1) Have a representative from BLM in Wyoming give a presentation demonstrating their efforts, if any, to help reduce sedimentation in the Bighorn Basin and 2) have BOR Area Managers Dan Jewell from Billings and John Lawson from Casper explain in detail how efforts between Yellowtail and Buffalo Bill and Boysen are coordinated. -Doug

Got carried away a bit…

Ok, so I got carried away a little bit… There’s so much interesting data out there, I just wanted to share because a lot of you have been asking for an easy way to view some of this data. Anywway, where possible, I’ve included historical averages, such as in the lake elevation graphs. Enjoy, and let me know if you have questions or concerns.

New graph

One upside to this lousy weather is that I’ve been stuck indoors getting some real work done. One project I wanted to tackle was coming up with a better graph showing releases for this water year, and a current flow value that didn’t rely on the often inaccurate and untimely USGS value. My result now shows the mean daily releases for the entire year (water year 2009) as well as the current real time Hydromet day plot of today’s current release. Have a look and see what you think. To access it, click the link in the upper right hand corner labeled 2009 Releases or click here. With a bit of luck, I’ll try and make another graph showing lake levels along with desired minimum boat launch levels, as well as the Reclamation’s forecast.

January 2008 Conference Call

I happened to be downtown today attending a meeting that ran late, so rather than miss the conference call, I dashed over to the BOR offices to attend in person. Many thanks to Dan, Tim, Dick, Lenny, and Tom for making me feel welcome and answering a few questions. The conference call didn’t yield any surprises, as was expected. We’re looking good right now heading in to the spring, and BOR is optimistic they’ll make their spring lake level target elevation. The Long Term Issues Group meeting is next week, and I’ll post comments on that shortly after.