Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership 2015 Autumn Newsletter

Introducing UWP’s New Communications Coordinator

Tanya Ishikawa 2014Happy autumn!

     It’s a colorful season of change as I begin contributing to the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership’s work on protecting and restoring the Uncompahgre River and its tributaries. My first couple weeks as UWP’s new communications coordinator have been pretty busy.

     Just as I started in this position, our nonprofit was celebrating the completion of significant water quality improvement projects at abandoned mines in the upper watershed. Agnieszka Przeszlowska, who switched from being UWP coordinator to being our mine remediation project manager, reports in this newsletter about the successes of her crews.

     It was also interesting timing for the Uncompahgre River to run orange, eliciting curiosity and concern around the community, and providing me with my first opportunity to share useful information with you. The event was a valuable lesson about the impact that abandoned mines are having on our watershed, and may lead us to develop future solutions to address water quality.

     Having grown up in Aspen, graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder and lived in Ouray County for a few years, I feel like I have a good knowledge about our state and the Western Slope. As a longtime journalist and avid traveler, I am also addicted to researching, learning and sharing information. So, I am excited to find out more about the issues and opportunities in our watershed, especially through talking with UWP’s many members and partners. Then, we can collaborate on protecting the economic, natural and scenic values of the Upper Uncompahgre River Watershed.

     Thank you for taking a moment to be informed and inspired about our past and future activities in this newsletter.

Tanya Ishikawa, UWP Communications Coordinator

ROCC Water Talk, Oct. 15

ROCC Water Presentation Oct 15

  Upper Uncompahgre Mine Remediation Projects

     We are proud to announce significant progress on three mine remediation projects, helping address poor water quality in the Upper Uncompahgre Watershed. The Michael Breen Mine Remediation Project, aimed at improving water quality in the Uncompahgre River below the abandoned mine site and Engineer Pass Road, was completed in October 2014, and followed up with revegetation in August 2015. The Vernon Mine Remediation Project, aimed at improving water quality in Gray Copper Gulch, was completed in September 2015. The implementation of the Atlas Mill Tailings Stabilization project, aimed at improving water quality in Sneffels Creek, is planned for summer of 2016. Monitoring at three sites began in July 2014 and is ongoing.

Agnieszka Przeszlowska     See more details and photos from Mine Remediation Project Manager Agnieszka Przeszlowska in her October 2 report on the UWP website.

Followup Report on Hydropower Flushing

     On Oct. 2, UWP sent out an E-Alert about discoloration of the Uncompahgre River, which was caused by an increased flow of heavy metals when sediment buildup was flushed from the Ouray Hydropower reservoir. Over the past couple weeks, we have received a lot of interest and inquiries about river water quality and impacts on wildlife, people and pets.

     The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership, with the assistance of our stakeholders, is piecing together information to answer questions about the impact of the dam flushing on the river and consider whether further actions are feasible. With limited resources, it may be a slow process. If we are able to gather the financial resources and collaborators such as local governments, state agencies and other involved organizations, we could help spearhead a future effort for more detailed study of this issue and the feasibility of remediation.

      Until then, you can access the currently available reports and an update on our partners’ responses over the past week in the Ouray Hyrdopower Reservoir Flushing Update of Oct. 10 on the UWP website.

Michigan Students Assist UWP

May2015WMAES_0863

     For two days in May, a group of 17 high school students plus three adults from Grand Rapids, Michigan visited Ridgway and volunteered with UWP. The delegation from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (WMAES) helped improve Top of the Pines, Cottonwood Park, and Rollans Park. See photos and descriptions of their work in our community in the WMAES Volunteer Activity Report on the UWP website.

Save the Dates!

Screening of The Great Divide documentary – January 2016 (date to be set soon)

Shavano Conservation District Water Seminar – Jan. 20, 2016

San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference – Late Spring 2016

Ridgway River Festival – June 24 & 25, 2016

UWP in the News

On Aug. 20, the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership and our mine remediation work was featured in an article in the Ouray County Plaindealer that you can read in our website’s News & Updates: Local lessons from Animas accident.

On Oct. 5, UWP Board Member Dennis Murphy was profiled in an article in the Montrose Mirror: Concern for health, welfare and safety of community.

Membership Dues

      The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership appreciates our members and their financial contributions that help us coordinate information and activities to protect and restore river health. We will be sending out dues requests for 2016 memberships in December to help you make your next tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit. Individual memberships are $36, family memberships are $55, and business memberships are $100. We appreciate your continued support.

Thank you to UWP Board Members Judi Chamberlain and Scott Williams for their contributions to this newsletter.

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