Dry August leads to Stage One Drought in Grand
With a wildfire burning and August being one of the driest in recent memory, it’s no surprise that — like most of the state — Grand County is facing a drought.
Joan Lyons of the Grand County Drought Preparedness Network discussed the statewide drought, the well below average precipitation and region-wide fire bans with the Grand Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. These factors put Grand County into a Stage One Drought as of Sept. 3.
In August, most of Grand County received less than 30% of average rainfall for the month, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Rainfall in July had been 50-70% of the average for the majority of the county.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitoring Index, roughly two-thirds of Grand County is in extreme drought, while the remaining third is in severe drought.
Residents, visitors, businesses and agriculture are being asked to do their part to use only what they need. Water conservation advice includes watering lawns no more than two days per week between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., encouraging visitors in hotels and lodging to change linens only by request, asking local restaurants to serve water by request and not refilling pools, hot tubs or water features.
These are only recommendations, not requirements, but Lyons said that sharing this advice reminds people inside and outside Grand to preserve the resource.
“It all begins with Grand County,” Lyons said. “We’re the headwaters of Colorado River, so we’re just doing our part to show that we have a plan and everyone else should too.”
Last year, county representatives moved forward with creating a management plan for droughts, which have become increasingly common in Colorado.
Grand County stakeholders have met repeatedly to create the Drought Preparedness Plan, which is currently in draft form. This year has been a “trial run” for the plan to learn how indicators, triggers and responses work for the community.
Further work is planned to create a robust and accessible resource for drought mitigation actions in Grand County.
In other business, the commissioners approved a 50 year land lease with Winter Park for The Lift operations center. Winter Park’s town counsel finalized the contract last week.
The commissioners emphasized their desire to have a representative sit on the Transit Advisory Committee, which advises Winter Park’s transit department. A condition of the lease is for Winter Park to make a “good faith” effort to provide that seat.
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Surrounded by walls of flames, Grand County Sheriff’s Office deputies fanned out across the US Highway 34 and Colorado Highway 125 corridors to evacuate about 4,000 people from East Troublesome Fire on Oct. 21, 2020.