Arizona church youth group volunteers in Ridgway

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership is very thankful to Ouray resident Mark Anderson and the leadership of the La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church of Scottsdale, Arizona for lending us the youth on their annual summer adventure and service trip in June. For each morning from June 18-20, UWP received the volunteer service of 20 teenagers, who worked on several projects to improve and maintain Rollans Park. The park, which surrounds the Uncompahgre River, is an important water recreation area as well as wildlife habitat.

UWP Board Members supervised the youth as they graveled the park trail, stained the benches in the outdoor classroom and the picnic tables, maintained wire enclosures that protect trees from being eaten by wildlife, took away enclosures around trees that had died, and removed at least 10 bags of invasive mullein plants. The volunteers worked so hard that they finished the Rollans Park projects early, and only 10 were needed on their last day of service. With additional time to spare, they stained tables, benches and gazebos at Hartwell Park and the Athletic Fields, as well as volunteered at the Ouray County Ranch History Museum and Ridgway Elementary School. All in all the groups organized by UWP contributed about 250 hours of service.

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Free Private Well Water Sampling in Six County Area

Results from UWP’s recent water quality testing in the Uncompahgre River showed periodic increased arsenic levels (known to cause cancer) as well as other toxic heavy metals. Wells, if properly constructed, should not be affected by bodies of surface water (creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers). However, due to elevated metals in the water of the Uncompahgre, it would be prudent to check the quality of water from wells along the river to ensure that your water is safe to drink.

While free well water testing is available to private well owners in a six county area (Ouray, San Miguel, Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale) thanks to a Center of Disease Control grant, UWP volunteers are making themselves available to help with well testing near the Uncompahgre River. Attached please find a related letter and form from the Delta County Health Department on behalf of the West Central Public Health Partnership.

The offer of free testing is time limited as eventually the grant funding will no longer be available. Please download, fill out and return the CDC-Well-Sample-Form-Ouray-County if you would like to participate. If you have questions, please call Ken Nordstrom at the number at the Delta County Health Department at 970-874-2165 or

If you need help completing the form and collecting the water sample, volunteers from UWP are available to help until the end of May 2018. Contact UWP by emailing or calling 970-325-3010.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this well testing, which is highly recommend by our water experts and the Ouray Department of Public Health.

To learn more about arsenic and drinking water, read Arsenic-Fact-Sheet from the State of Colorado.

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2nd Annual Fly Fishing Film Tour & Uncompahgre River Benefit

Thank you to the media in southwest Colorado for picking up the news about UWP’s 2nd Annual Fly Fishing Film Tour & Uncompahgre River Benefit, organized by Ross Reels and RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service.

From the Montrose Mirror:



Special to Art & Sol

MONTROSE-Whether enjoyed as a solitary endeavor or with a fun-loving group of friends, the always essential ingredient for a satisfying fly fishing experience is a prime fishing spot. When ROSS Reels and RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service bring the Fly Fishing Film Tour to the Montrose Pa-vilion on April 14, the evening will be all about preserving and improving fishing habitat on the Uncompahgre River.

Read more: 040218MontroseMirrorISSUE266-p33_FFFilms_URBenefit

From the Ouray County Plaindealer:

WESTERN SLOPE: Watershed partnership benefit to feature flyfishing films, expo

Plaindealer Staff Report,

Preserving and improving fishing habitat on the Uncompahgre River will be the focus at the Fly Fishing Film Tour on Saturday, presented by ROSS Reels and RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service at the Montrose Pavilion, 1800 E. Pavilion Place. Proceeds will benefit Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership.

Read more: 041218OCPlaindealer-p16

From The Watch:

FISH TALES: Spring inspires fly-fishing fans and outfitters

By TANYA ISHIKAWA, Watch Contributor

As a longtime writer and editor of fishing stories, Kirk Deeter has fished around the world; in places he never thought he would be. When asked to tell one of his best fishing stories, the editor of Trout Magazine and Field & Stream editor-at-large has a hard time choosing just one.

Read more: 041218-The-Watch-FlyFishing

From the Montrose Daily Press:

Fly Fishing Film Tour hands you the world

Outdoors, By Joel L. Evans

Sometimes you go to the world. Sometimes the world comes to you.

Read more: 041318MontroseDP

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Red Mountain Mining District Tour Guide tells The Watch about historical sights

Hike into history

Winter tour to visit former mining sites, ghost towns

By JUSTIN CRIADO, Associate Editor, The Watch

Don Paulson brings books to life.

No, he’s not a magician or some type of “Pagemaster” practitioner. Paulson — curator of the Ouray County Historical Museum — has authored several texts about the region’s mining and railroad history, which he uses as guides during several informational tours throughout the year.

“I don’t think people can really understand history by just reading a book. History really comes alive when you see the actual remnants of the historical places,” Paulson said.

The winter edition of Paulson’s guided adventure — an approximately four-mile hike of the Red Mountain Mining District — will be Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tour makes stops at Yankee Girl Mine and the ghost town of Guston.

Read more…

Photo by Tanya Ishikawa

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UWP reports on 2017 Hydrodam Sediment Release Study

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) has completed its first report for the Ouray Hydrodam Sediment Release Study, detailing the water quality impacts of the annual release into the Uncompahgre River. Due to the release’s increased flows and concentrations of heavy metals compared to pre-release flows in the river,the study compares metals concentrations to water quality standards for various beneficial uses of water. Additionally, the study can help determine if there are any substantial environmental or public health issues created by the release.

UWP conducted the initial Ouray Hydrodam sediment release study in March 2017, during an early snowmelt period where flows were substantially higher than typical for March. Observations from this study are specific to this year’s event and additional study should occur to improve certainty.

Here is a link to the full Study Report, published in November 2017. In summary, the March 2017 study found the following:

Change in metal concentrations during the release: Total metal concentrations increased during the release and returned to concentrations similar to the pre-release concentrations. Dissolved metal concentrations decreased for most metals during the release. Dissolved metal concentrations generally returned to pre-release concentrations following the sediment release. Both patterns are expected given the large volume of water and sediment released from the sluice gate during the sediment release.

Metal concentrations and aquatic life standards: All metal concentrations attained aquatic life standards during the release.

Metal concentrations and human-health standards during the sediment release: The EPA classifies arsenic as a Class A carcinogen (most dangerous classification). This classification results in a very low human-health standard (0.02 ug/L of total arsenic). An ambient concentration of less than 10 ug/L is considered acceptable for raw drinking water supplies. Arsenic concentrations measured during the sediment release below the dam and near Ouray exceeded the human-health and raw water supply criteria; concentrations at CR-24 near Ridgway exceeded the human-health criterion.

The arsenic concentrations measured at all three locations exceeded the human-health criterion before and after the sediment release. Arsenic concentrations measured in the Uncompahgre River near Ouray and Ridgway occasionally exceeded the human-health and raw water supply criteria during the 15-year period of record.

Although the hydrodam sediment releases influence arsenic concentrations, there may be other sources and controls within the watershed. Additional study may be warranted to better understand arsenic concentrations and sources within the Uncompahgre River Watershed.

Other metals did not exceed human-health criteria.

Follow-up study required for better understanding: UWP plans to coordinate with local stakeholders to design a follow-up study. We secured partial funding for a 2018 study from Ouray County and the Town of Ridgway, and are seeking additional funding to implement the study.

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