How seriously do you view the health of the river and the algae problem? What are your specific ideas for taking care of this problem?
EDITOR’S NOTE: For clarification, this question was submitted by a citizen, not by either candidate, in response to our request for questions last week. However, Mr. Moyer has requested that any additional questions from the public be submitted directly to him by phone, not through the Herald Times.
By Reed Kelley
Independent Candidate for RBC Commissioner
RBC | The White River is our namesake and the heart of Rio Blanco County from a biologic and economic perspective. We must seriously strive to keep the river, its health and beauty at the forefront of our endeavors. That is why, early on, I participated in and reported on, for the Herald Times, the community effort—which started in late summer 2017 and was facilitated by our Board of County Commissioners—to discuss, analyze and attempt to solve the summer green algae blooms on the river these past few years. I have been amazed at the amount of largely taxpayer community dollars and effort that has been committed to finding solutions through the U.S. Geological Survey study now underway.
As a consequence of the importance of and concern for the river, I helped a group of local citizens, river users, river-way owners and others establish a private, non-profit organization, registered with the state, we call the White River Alliance. As of this last summer we have a seven-person board of directors and officers with several more paid-up members. Our founding purpose has been to cooperate with, monitor and help the USGS study succeed in finding the right answers on the algae. In the meantime, we have also attempted to bring as much documented information as we can to the table and explore ways in which the algae situation might be improved while the four to five year USGS study is being conducted.
We expect, and I expect, that the White River Alliance and the county will continue to be a force for the health and well-being of our watershed while attempting to continue those agricultural and other activities that are part of our custom and culture along the river. We are very lucky in Rio Blanco County to essentially “be” the White River Basin, uninterrupted by different, complicating jurisdictions. We have and must seize the opportunity to determine what our vision is for the future of the watershed and how that future intertwines with the health and well-being of our lives. Serendipitously, the Colorado Water Plan and its Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable process, in which I have also been participating, are, right now, poised to help us with this effort.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer a reader’s question.
By Gary Moyer
Republican Candidate for RBC Commissioner
RBC I The White River is and has been the lifeblood for Rio Blanco County. Therefore, both the river’s quality and quantity are essential for the livelihoods of many and important to us all. As has been reported in the paper on multiple occasions a Technical Advisory Group was formed approximately a year ago to address the algae bloom issue. The Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts have been put in charge of facilitating this group. A fundraising effort was put in place and successfully raised the funds necessary to contract the USGS to collect water samples at 20 collection points along the river. The data from this first summer’s collection is currently being compiled with the intent of being made public. The goal is to help identify the causes of the recent algae blooms. Without a scientific basis to identify what the cause is, we are only speculating as to the cause. We all have our own opinions as to the probable causes but we need to be on solid ground to draw any real conclusions. This is what this current effort is trying to achieve. I think that it’s important that the landowners along the river voluntarily try to implement the best management practices possible. It is also important to note that the only enforcement of changes of practice is limited to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. I am hopeful that the causes of the algae blooms, if human caused, can be voluntarily addressed.