UWP volunteers share watershed lessons with hundreds of students

In May and June 2017, volunteers with the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership attended five different events around the watershed where they shared lessons and games about water ecology with youth of all ages from elementary to high school. The volunteers spent a total of 20-plus hours participating in watershed education during those two months, and reached up to 1,000 students. Here are some photos of the fun activities.

June 13, 2017 – UWP volunteer Brad Wallis at Voyager Youth Program in Ridgway, photographed by Judi Chamberlin


May 18, 2017 – UWP volunteers Brad Wallis, Dennis Murphy and Dudley and Sharon Case in the fourth grade classroom in Ridgway, photographed by Christy Sabo


May 16, 2017 – UWP volunteers Michael Johnson and Brad Wallis at Colorado Park & Wildlife’s Family Nature Night in Ridgway, photographed by Mary Menz

May 9, 2017 – UWP volunteer Brad Wallis at the Shavano Conservation District’s 4th grade Natural Resource Festival in Montrose, photographed by Ellen Husch

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Alpine Environmental Consultants supports UWP with technical expertise

Welcome, Alpine Environmental Consultants!

For the past few months, UWP has been able to study, plan and implement projects with the new assistance of Alpine Environmental Consultants (AEC). The Crested Butte-based firm specializes in watershed planning, water quality data analysis and management, and project implementation.

Principal scientist and AEC owner Ashley Bembenek brings with her valuable experience and expertise. Her past consulting work includes acting as lead technical consultant on the Coal Creek project in Crested Butte, where she collected, compiled, and analyzed water quality data to create recommendations for water quality standards. She was also the author for the Upper Slate River Watershed Plan in Gunnison County, and is currently leading a collaborative mine reclamation project at the Gunsight Processing Area near Crested Butte.

Ashely is supported in her work with UWP by watershed scientist and AEC employee Julia Nave, who brings significant knowledge and professional relationships in the San Juan Mountains with her. Julia was the community program coordinator and instructor for the Watershed Education Program in the Telluride School District for two years, and is the former office manager and program assistant for the Telluride Institute.

The AEC team participated in the San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference in May, and contributed to UWP’s poster presentation. They began on data analysis and recommendation development about the Ouray Hydrodam Sediment Release study, and plan to present a report soon.

The team’s primary role with UWP is to provide technical expertise to support reclamation activities at selected historic mine sites in the Upper Uncompahgre River. Three reclamation projects are proposed with unique public-private partnerships between local stakeholders including Ouray Silver Mines Inc., the U.S. Forest Service, Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, and others.

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Ridgway Draft Ordinance on River Corridor Development Regulations

As a public service to inform the public of pending local legislation impacting the future of the Uncompahgre River, UWP is providing this link to the Aug. 9, 2017 version of

“An Ordinance Of The Town Of Ridgway, Colorado Amending The Official Zoning Map to Provide For The Uncompahgre River Overlay District And Creating River Corridor Development Regulations”.

The proposed municipal law was created to accomplish Goal 4 of Ridgway’s 2011 Land use Plan Update to “rreserve, restore, and re-engage the Uncompahgre River to strengthen the riparian corridor as an asset to the community”. It is expected to go to a vote on first reading by Ridgway Town Council on Sept. 13, and a final vote on second reading with a public hearing on Oct. 11.

Map of Ridgway Town Properties within the River Corridor Overlay District

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The Watch features Mining Reclamation cover story

Evolution of Mining: Site remediation efforts protect people and water

By Tanya Ishikawa, Special to The Watch

Silver and gold. Lead and zinc.

Fortune seekers have been excavating the San Juan Mountains for 150 years to extract profitable, shiny minerals. The unintended consequences were the damaging release of acid rock mine drainage, carrying lead, zinc, cadmium, copper and other heavy metals throughout local watersheds.

Continued… read the rest of the article here: 050417TheWatchp1-10-11MineRec

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UWP samples sediment and water after Ouray Hydrodam’s 2017 spring reservoir release

UWP project coordinator Agnieszka Przeszlowska, Jeff Litteral of the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety and UWP Board Member Dennis Murphy spent the weekend of March 18-19, 2017, sampling water and sediment at several locations along the Uncompahgre River. Our nonprofit is studying the effects of an annual release of water and sediment from the Ouray Hydrodam. The purpose of the release is to maintain and improve dam operations. The study’s aim is to understand if the high heavy metal concentrations in the release, resulting from both natural mineral deposits and flows through mining waste, has longterm negative impacts on the watershed.

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership thanks Ouray Hydrodam Operator Eric Jacobson, the Town of Ridgway, City of Ouray, Ouray County, and other partners who made this water quality study event possible.

TOP PHOTO: Water being released from the Ouray Hydrodam. BOTTOM PHOTO: Dennis Murphy samples sediment at the Ridgway Reservoir. Photos by Agnieszka Przeszlowska.

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