Letter: River agreement needs to be tied to final permit
May 22, 2014
To the Editor:
I've lived in the Fraser Valley the past 20 years and for the most part, the reasons we love to live here hasn't changed. The same beautiful surroundings, friendly people, and a caring community that stands together.
But what has changed is the viability of the Fraser River due to the continued diversions by Denver Water. And then, three years ago, Denver Water announced they wanted even more water, which would reduce the Fraser to 20 percent of its natural flow. And Denver Water, with its supporting "scientific studies'," saw nothing wrong with that. But the Grand County Commissioners led by James Newberry and Lurline Underbrink Curran took up the fight to save the Fraser River. They were joined in this effort by the local Trout Unlimited chapter, and later, both the state and national organizations. This brought both legal assistance and placement of the Fraser River and the Upper Colorado River on national lists of Most Endangered Rivers.
The final stage of these protracted negotiations has been over "Adaptive Management."
I.e. Collective agreements and decisions to ensure 1.) minimum stream flows 2.) minimum stream temperatures 3.) "flushing flows to scour the river bottom to promote stream health. The last sticking point was securing Denver Water's agreement that this adaptive management be included in The Corps of Army Engineers operating permit, which Denver Water needs to proceed with its plan. It gives Adaptive Management legal standing. Working with Denver Water will require perseverance and resolve to insist that it lives up to its legal obligations. But it's the best and only option on the table that will improve the health of the Fraser. Just saying no preserves the status quo, and the Fraser River needs our help
All of us who have been involved in these lengthy discussions, the county commissioners, TU, stakeholders, and local groups representing agriculture and tourism, have reached the same conclusion that adaptive management inclusion within the body of the permit is our best bet. I realize there will be some that find fault with this plan to provide active management to improve the health of the Fraser River. However this has been a long, hard battle. As I stated earlier, this is a caring community that sticks together, and it's in our best interest and the river's best interest and the best interest of future generations to stick together and support this plan for Adaptive Management.
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To find out more and about how you can communicate your message to the Army Corps of Engineers in support of this plan and its "inclusion in the final permit," visit Trout Unlimited's local website coheadwaters.org
TU board member