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RBC I Snowpack and precipitation levels are low in the White River Basin and there is some concern at this time, a local U.S. Forest Service official said Friday.
“We are paying attention closely,” said Ken Coffin, the district ranger in Meeker for the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest. “The snowpack and precipitation have a huge impact on us. We are deeply concerned about the growth of the trees and the upcoming fire season. A dry spring could mean big trouble for summer.”
Coffin said the drainages in the Water Resources Data System report that are most relevant to Rio Blanco County are: Burro Mountain, located about 15 miles southeast of Meeker along the Buford-New Castle road; Ripple Creek, due east of Meeker about 50 miles and off County Road 8; and Trappers Lake, about 50 miles southeast of Meeker, south of CR8.
Up-to-the-minute snow/water equivalents and total precipitation reports are available through a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Water and Climate Center in Portland, Ore. The report, as of Friday afternoon, indicated that snow/water levels in the White River Basin are between 61 and 89 percent of normal.
Ripple Creek was in the best condition of the area drainages as of Friday. The drainage was listed at being 89 percent of normal in snow/water equivalent. The sensor, located at 10.340 feet, detected a total precipitation average of 78 percent to date.
The Burro Mountain drainage was listed at 68 percent of normal in the snow/water equivalent. That sensor, located at 9,400 feet, also indicated that the total precipitation level at 69 percent of average.
The largest concern is in the Trappers Lake drainage, listed at 61 percent of normal in the snow/water equivalent. That sensor, located at 9,700 feet, indicated the total precipitation average of 75 percent through Friday.
“We are a bit concerned at this point,” Coffin said. “All three drainages are low compared to normal averages, but with the Trappers Lake area at only 61 percent, there is more concern.
“We are not by any means at the panic level because a couple good snows or a big spring snow or some good rains could make a big difference,” he said. “With low snowpacks averaged in the past couple of years, however, we are certainly hoping for some more rain or snow. We don’t want a long, hot spring or summer in which the fire danger is extreme.”