Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable fills three vacancies

RBC | There are 30 possible voting seats on the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable which meets every other month, usually in Craig. At the Roundtable’s November meeting, three individuals were elected to vacancies. Normal Roundtable terms are for five years. New members are elected by active Roundtable members.

Will Myers, who grew up on the Myers Hereford Ranch above Hamilton, was elected to be the agricultural representative. He had been elected to the remaining year of a vacated term in November 2017. Myers graduated from Hayden High School, obtained his civil engineering degree from the University of Wyoming, and after years of civil engineering practice in Wyoming, came home to northwest Colorado. Now he runs his own consulting engineering firm out of Craig, produces livestock and is a guide and outfitter. His wife Sarah is the state water commissioner for the Little Snake, Lower Yampa and Green River sub-basins.

Myers, in his application for a five-year term, wrote that the agriculture representative on the Roundtable should be knowledgeable of and active in agriculture, amplify the voice of the agricultural community, and consistently participate in relevant meetings and workshops in order to help the Roundtable achieve cooperative water management strategies.

Geoff Blakeslee, of Hayden, has been the environmental representative on the Roundtable since its founding 13 years ago. Blakeslee, who is the Yampa River Project Director for the Nature Conservancy, lives on the Carpenter Ranch outside of Hayden which he operates for the Conservancy with his wife, Beth. Blakeslee chose not to serve another term on the Roundtable. Brian Hodge, of Steamboat Springs, was elected to replace Blakeslee.

Hodge, nominated for the slot by Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU), has served 10 years as CTU’s Yampa and White River Basin coordinator. He is a fish biologist and restoration manager who has been engaged with cooperative projects in the two river basins working with agricultural producers, municipalities, other agencies and non-government organizations to improve river health.

Deirdre Macnab who, with her husband, Craig, owns and operates the 4M Ranch between Meeker and Rangely, was elected to an at-large vacancy on the Roundtable occasioned by the resignation of Jeff Devere from Rangely. In her application, Macnab indicated the importance of the White River Valley to their ranching operation which involves cattle and hay production as well as big game hunting and outfitting. She wrote, “I believe deeply in the importance of the YWG Roundtable mission…providing basin stakeholders with an important forum for collaborative and proactive decision-making while addressing the challenges of multiple users.”

Rangely’s Terry Smalec, a member of the Douglas Creek Conservation District and Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center boards, had also applied for the at-large seat. Rio Blanco County Commissioner Si Woodruff, RBC municipality representative Alden Vanden Brink, RB Water Conservancy District representative Tim Winkler, and at-large members Chuck Whiteman, Travis Day and Vince Wilczek all currently serve on the Roundtable from the White River Valley.

In business matters, the Roundtable reviewed water supply risk assessment work done on their behalf and the demand management planning currently being developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board in conjunction with concerned western slope water groups. The Roundtable approved a motion that in drought planning, interbasin agreements, not just Front Range / Western Slope agreements, must be respected and established a working sub-committee on this matter.

Division 6 State Water Resources engineer Erin Light spoke of her experience having to ask for a call on the Yampa River for almost the first time ever this summer and how guidelines have now been developed to handle future call actions in the Basin more deftly. She said the ability to release flows from Lake Avery for the White River this summer allowed a call on the White to be avoided.

Several proposals for Roundtable grants were discussed including streamflow, suspended sediment, and nutrient analyses on the Upper Yampa with a focus on algae blooms there; forest streamside vegetation restoration and temperature mitigation on the Upper Yampa; and continued Yampa River integrated water management planning. Letters of support for the West Fork Battle Creek Reservoir  project in Wyoming and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Agricultural Water NetWORK planning outreach project were approved.

Representatives of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program briefed the Roundtable on the status of the upcoming Programmatic Biological Opinion for the White River that will identify needs of the endangered fish in the White River system.

By REED KELLEY | reed@theheraldtimes.com