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hwcover16Explore the state and meet Coloradans who are devoted to protecting wildlife through this issue of Headwaters.

Read through select articles below or view the full wildlife issue of Headwaters online.

Watermarks--Letter from the Editor

While working on this Headwaters issue, my close friend and colleague Lisa Everitt joked that many of the writers we know write about food and fashion.

I was excited because I got to talk to a University of Colorado ecologist who figured out what was deforming frogs and a Division of Wildlife fish researcher who was about to drop German-American crossbred rainbow trout out of a helicopter into the Gunnison River. He couldn't get a truck into the canyon.

The current Headwaters cuts a swath across the state and illustrates how devoted Coloradans are to protecting wildlife and finding creative solutions to complicated problems.

Peter Roessmann traveled the Colorado River to interview water users who collaborated to avert a crisis. The people Peter talked with aren't always on the same side, of the Divide or the argument.

A disaster at the Shoshone Power Plant cut off the most senior call on the Colorado. That call is the drawstring that holds statewide economies, systems and delicate relationships together. The groups put West Slope communities, recreation and four endangered fish ahead of their interests.

Along the Platte—North, South and Central—another story of cooperation unfolds. Jayla Poppleton recaps the plan to send more water to Nebraska to help whooping cranes and three other species. Two of them are small unassuming brown, white and black birds, no match for the whooping cranes' grace, beauty or mystique, but important nonetheless. The fourth is a fish named the pallid sturgeon.

On the Republican River, as corn prices climb, the basin faces a river compact shortfall and tough decisions. Dave Loftis explains how people like Assistant State Engineer Ken Knox work tirelessly behind the scenes to be fair while delivering a hard message. Knox, water managers and farmers in the basin are trying to figure out the conundrum. One part of the solution is to retire irrigated farmland. The other is to dry up Bonny Lake, an important stop on the Central Flyway and a popular warm water recreation spot.

Then it's south to John Martin, where Lisa Everitt examines an eastern plains oasis. She also explains what it means to mitigate.

All of these stories speak to beauty as our fellow creatures inhabit the land, waters and sky of this great state.
With this issue we also introduce a new executive director. Nicole Seltzer took the Colorado Foundation for Water Education reins Dec. 3. Many in the water community already know her and her work on reservoir development, conservation and watersheds. She'll do well.

Her appointment reminded me of a conversation a group of women in the water industry had a few years ago. If men in the business were known as water buffalos, what should we call the women?


Lori Ozzello

A Bonny Farewell?

By Dave Loftis

‘The current proposal to release 900 acre feet will have us going dry within one or two years,’ says Howard Paul, Bonny Lake State Park manager. ‘The dead pool will be around a 2- or 3-acre mud puddle.’

Read more: A Bonny Farewell?

On the Edge

By Lisa Everitt

Nature bats last on the Eastern Plains

Zebulon Pike and his team of geographers made a careful map in 1806 as they headed west along what they called the Arkansaw River. ‘Here the Mountains are first seen,’ they wrote at the point where the John Martin Reservoir now lies.

Read more: On the Edge

A Permanent Pool for Recreation and Wildlife in John Martin Reservoir

They're trying to buy a little assurance.

The Colorado's Division of Wildlife and State Parks, along with the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, have money and a deal to firm up a permanent pool for recreation and wildlife in John Martin Reservoir.

Read more: A Permanent Pool for Recreation and Wildlife in John Martin Reservoir

The Day the Birds Hired Lawyers

By Lisa Everitt

How wildlife mitigation went from afterthought to prime mover

When it comes to wildlife mitigation, it's not enough for water project managers to do a good turn. They want to do a tern good.

Least terns, to be precise—not to mention piping plovers, bald eagles and bonytail chub.
That's what Mike Francis does for a living. He's a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and his job for the last seven years has been to ensure that the Animas-La Plata Project does not mess up the lives of birds, fish or humans.

Read more: The Day the Birds Hired Lawyers

The Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program

The Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program, established 20 years ago, is a collaborative effort to restore four endangered fish species and continue water development in compliance with state and federal laws and interstate compacts.

Read more: The Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program

Lost: Historic Call Found: Creative Solution

Story by Peter Roessmann

In the early morning hours of June 20th, 2007, a 98-year-old section of penstock gave way, unleashing a torrent of water on the Shoshone Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon. The penstock, a riveted steel tube directing diverted Colorado River water into the plant's turbines, was a victim of undetected corrosion.

Read more: Lost: Historic Call Found: Creative Solution

What a Nuisance

Story by Lori Ozzello | Photographs by Kevin Moloney

Whirling disease seemed unbeatable.

The disease stumped aquatic researchers in the mid 1990s and decimated the state's wild rainbow trout population. It tolerated extreme temperatures and could lie dormant in silt for years. Biologists devised ways to rid state hatcheries of the invasive disease, but they struggled to somehow inoculate or protect the wild trout.

Read more: What a Nuisance

Water for the Birds

How Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and the Feds Figured It Out

Story by Jayla Ryan Poppleton

It's no wonder, once you understand the competing interests involved, that it took 12 years for Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska to hash out a deal to send water downstream on the Platte River for three rare birds and a fish. The three-state agreement, formally the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, officially began in January 2007.

Read more: Water for the Birds

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Connecting the Drops Partners

Connecting the Drops is a radio collaboration between Water Education Colorado and Colorado Community Radio Stations KGNU, KDNK and KRCC.


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