A FLASH FLOOD KILLED A GRAND CANYON VISITOR. DROUGHT IN THE SOUTHWEST COULD BE MAKING MONSOON FLOODING WORSE

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By Hannah Gard and Judson Jones, CNN

Sat July 17, 2021 

(CNN)Monsoon rains brought extreme flash flooding to the Southwest this week, causing at least one death and scenes of vehicles bobbing down roads like rafts on rapids.More flash flooding may occur this weekend.A flash flood in Grand Canyon National Park killed Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the Tatahatso Camp on the Colorado River, the National Park Service said in a press release. The flood injured four others who were hospitalized and in stable condition.

Experts say the historic Western drought is to blame.

The drought has ravaged the region for decades, leaving the soil less like a sponge and more like pavement. 

“The moisture isn’t absorbed into the soil as much and all of that water is running off and that is what leads to the roadways and flooding of people’s properties,” National Weather Service Flagstaff meteorologist Tim Steffen said.Urban areas with plentiful concrete and little drainage can easily experience flash flooding events when heavy rain falls in a brief period of time. Videos of cars floating down brown floodwater rapids surfaced Wednesday after the extreme flooding in Flagstaff. 

“We had widespread heavy rainfall across the Flagstaff area on Wednesday that led to flash flooding and some closures of area roadways. That is our big concern every monsoon season,” Steffen said. “These types of intense, local rain events happen each summer, but often in unpopulated areas,” said Michael Crimmins, climate science extension specialist for Arizona Cooperative Extension. “The impacts are quite large when they occur in populated areas like Flagstaff.”Flagstaff been preparing for flash flooding events since the Museum fire north of the city in 2019 left a large burn scar. In the following monsoon seasons, there was little rainfall, creating flash flooding problems in the area. 

Arizona saw two massive wildfires devour the hillsides outside of Phoenix earlier this year, and eight large fires burning over 60,000 acres are currently active in the state.Wildfire burn scars can create a flash flood runway that can last for years. “You can think of it as concrete where the water is not being absorbed into the soils; it’s all just running off,” Steffen said. “Downstream of those fire scars all that water is running off, some debris as well from the fire, and that can clog culverts. Those areas are susceptible to flash flooding more so than those areas that haven’t been burned.” Fires burn off plant matter that normally would hold soils in place during flooding events. Drought underlies the whole problem because there’s not much chance for vegetation to grow back and “keep things in place,” said Daniel Ferguson, director of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS).The West’s historic drought in 3 mapsCLIMAS says climate change is affecting monsoon season. “Warmer temperatures have expanded and intensified the North American monsoon ridge, resulting in fewer storms across Arizona during the peak of the monsoon season (late-July to mid-August),” according to theclimate report for Coconino County, where Flagstaff is located. Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday issued a declaration of emergency for Coconino County, making up to $200,000 available for response efforts.Although storms will be less frequent, they may be more forceful. As the air heats up, it is able to hold more water, leading to heavier downpours and more flash flooding potential than typical monsoon thunderstorms in the past. Each year more people are killed by flash flooding than lightning, with the average being 88 deaths according to the NWS. “Most people fail to realize the power of water. For example, 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet,” the NWS warns

As the 26th year of historic drought leaves most of Arizona in extreme to exceptional drought conditions, rainfall is a welcome addition to the weekly weather forecast. The rain reduces soaring temperatures and provides brief relief from the relentless sun. But previous years of scant rainfall and recent record-breaking heat have proven detrimental to the Southwest. “What has contributed to the current drought, especially here in Northern Arizona, is two of the driest monsoons on record in 2019 and 2020. That created a problem,” Steffen said. Moisture in any form can help the drought by relieving strained greenery and soils. The bulk of Arizona’s yearly rainfall occurs during the monsoon season. “This is typically when we receive a lot of our precipitation during the year, and winter, so it’s very important that we have a good monsoon season because it does help quell some of the drought problems,” Steffen said. The 2021 monsoon season has already given some areas of Arizona more rainfall than during the entire 2020 season, according to the NWS. Flagstaff has seen over an inch more rain than it did all last year’s season. However, the rain is not doing much to replenish reservoirs that are faltering because of the winter season snow drought and record heat waves.”All rainfall helps improve our water situation although runoff from summer monsoon rain rarely produces a significant improvement in reservoir levels,” said said Shauna Evans, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). “Monsoon rain however can help rehydrate our soils, which helps get snowmelt runoff into the reservoirs. Also, some portion infiltrates into the ground and replenishes the aquifers.”But monsoons rains can simply be a short-term fix to a long-term problem. In terms of hydrological drought, we really do need to have widespread cool season precipitation, particularly snowfall,” said NWS Phoenix meteorologist Larry Hopper.”The snow melts into the reservoir which helps improves the water supply, which is a major component of hydrological drought. Monsoon, you don’t usually capture as much rainfall because it’s not as widespread.”Monsoon season rainfall is typically sporadic in nature, with bursts of downpours in some areas while other areas remain dry. Widespread drought alleviation is difficult unless an active monsoon season drenches the region. The Southwest will see more monsoonal moisture this weekend bringing heavy rainfall.

“Instances of flash flooding will remain a concern throughout parts of Arizona and New Mexico into the weekend. Additional isolated rainfall totals up to 1 inch are possible today across central and southeastern Arizona, where Flash Flood Watches have been issued to highlight the potential hazard,” according to the Weather Prediction Center.

BLUES LABEL ALLIGATOR RECORDS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS

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Alligator Records is an American, Chicago-based independent blues record label founded by Bruce Iglauer in 1971. Iglauer was also one of the founders of the Living Blues magazine in Chicago in 1970.

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July 17, 20219

Scott Simon speaks to Bruce Iglauer about the legendary blues label Alligator Records, which began 50 years ago.

~~~ LISTEN ~~~

OFFICIALS PLAN TO FURTHER DIVERT COLORADO RIVER DESPITE DROUGHT. FARMERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND BUSINESSES AREN’T HAPPY ~ The Colorado Sun

Officials plan to build a pipeline to siphon water from Lake Powell to Utah’s Sand Hollow Reservoir despite the coming water cuts in downstream states

The Associated Press

Jul 16, 2021

The Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

By Sam Metz, The Associated Press / Report for America

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Farmers, environmentalists and small-town business owners gathered at the Hoover Dam on Thursday to call for a moratorium on pipelines and dams along the Colorado River that they said jeopardizes the 40 million people who rely on it as a water source.

They’re pushing for the moratoriums as parts of the U.S. West are gripped by historic drought and hotter temperatures and dry vegetation provide fuel for wildfires sweeping the region. Federal officials expect to make the first-ever water shortage declaration in the Colorado River basin next month, prompting cuts in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.https://omny.fm/shows/the-colorado-sun/playlists/podcast/embed?style=artwork&image=1&share=1&download=1&description=1&subscribe=1&playlistimages=1&playlistshare=1&foreground=000000&background=ffffff&highlight=fcd232

“We’re here to say, ‘Damn the status quo,’” said Kyle Roerink, the executive director of the Great Basin Water Network.

“No more business as usual. Why? Because we’re failing: It’s plain and simple. We shouldn’t be seeing that bathtub ring growing like it is,” he added, gesturing toward the white band that wraps the perimeter of Lake Mead, marking former water levels.

Hot temperatures and less snowpack have decreased the amount of water that flows from the Rocky Mountains down through the arid deserts of the Southwest into the Gulf of California.

Scientists attribute the extreme conditions to a combination of natural weather patterns and human-caused climate change, which has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

Almost a century after seven U.S. states divvied up the river, Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the two manmade reservoirs that store river water — are shrinking faster than expected, spreading panic throughout a region that relies on the river to sustain 40 million people and a $5 billion-a-year agricultural industry.

Nevada does not use its full allocation of river water and stands to be less affected by the cuts tied to the federal water shortage declaration than Arizona, where farmers will have to rely more heavily on groundwater and leave fields unplanted.

Officials in both states acknowledge the record lows are part of an ongoing downward spiral for the river but assure water users that they’ve spent years preparing and have enough water to accommodate expected population growth and supply farmers.

But those speaking at Hoover Dam on Thursday blasted water officials and said agreements reached in 2007 and 2019 weren’t fulfilling their purpose to maintain the river. They said proponents of projects to facilitate more water consumption weren’t being realistic about action needed to ensure the Colorado River continues to supply water and hydropower to the region’s cities and farms.

The Colorado River is drying up faster than federal officials can keep track. Mandatory water cuts are looming.

Utah Rivers Council Executive Director Zach Frankel said state and federal officials should abandon plans to build a pipeline to siphon water from Lake Powell to the Sand Hollow Reservoir in southern Utah. He said it was important to ensure federal infrastructure dollars weren’t spent on projects that enable more wasteful water use and pointed out that Utah’s Washington County — which would benefit from the diversion — uses more water per capita than Las Vegas and Phoenix.

“It is simply madness that as the Colorado River reaches its lowest levels in recorded history that we will be proposing a new water diversion upstream. While the lower basin is going to diet and cutting its water use, we should not let the upper basin go to an all-you-can-eat buffet,” he said.

The Imperial Irrigation District, which oversees water in parts of Southern California and has water rights to roughly 20% of the Colorado River — more than Nevada and Arizona combined — withdrew from the most recent set of negotiations. JB Hamby, the vice president of the district’s board, said it was important that water management policies made in the future ensured that rural farming communities — which use the majority of the region’s water — wouldn’t bear the brunt of the drought so that cities can keep growing.

“This suburban ‘manifest destiny’ threatens the current and future sustainability of this river and communities that depend on it. We must champion and protect the diverse benefits of irrigated farmland for the West, the nation and the world — for food production and security, the environment, wildlife preservation, recreation and tourism and efficient water management.”

IN DURANGO, COLORADO, A COMMUNITY CELEBRATES SEPP KUSS’ TOUR DE FRANCE TRIUMPH

TOUR DE FRANCE

For cyclists in Durango, Colorado, Sepp Kuss’s Tour de France stage win brought joy, memories, and good vibes.

JULY 15, 2021

JOHN LIVINGSTON


At the Kuss family home in Durango, Colorado, Dolph and Sabina Kuss screamed into the television this past Sunday, watching their son, Sepp, navigate the twists and turns on his bicycle as he descended the Col de Beixalis during stage 15 of the Tour de France, thousands of miles away in Andorra.

Behind Kuss, Alejandro Valverde gave chase, hoping to challenge the American for the stage win.

“Come on Seppy, take a risk,” shouted Dolph, a two-time Olympic cross-country skiing coach for Team USA in 1964 and 1972. “I was encouraging him on that downhill so he wouldn’t have to battle Valverde out for the last few seconds going into the finish. Sepp, of course, I know he’s not void of downhill skills. When they would show the splits – 18, 20, down to 15, back to 16 – oh man, every one of those second losses felt like they sucked the wind out of you, and every gain brought you to life.”

Sabina, herself a cyclist who has conquered the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic from Durango to Silverton on numerous occasions, at times with her son in tow during his early days on a bike, said she could watch him without fear as he reached speeds as high as 50 mph on the downhill for the first time in her life.

“Thank goodness there was no rain,” Sabina Kuss told VeloNews. “We know Sepp is a good descender, so this was the first time I could relax, and I took every curve with him.”

As Dolph and Sabina proudly looked on, Sepp held off Valverde, and coasted across the line to take the biggest victory of his professional cycling career. In doing so, he became the first American in a decade to win a stage of the Tour de France.

Back in Durango, Colorado, where Sepp grew up, the victory sent ripples through the community. Those who knew him best had just watched him do what he had done so. many times on a mountain bike throughout his childhood. And in the days after the victory, these friends explained how Kuss’s win reverberated throughout the mountain town in Southwestern Colorado, that has produced so many great cyclists before.

“Back in 2017 when he was racing domestically for Rally Cycling, Sepp, Howard Grotts and I rode the South Boundary Trail from Angel Fire to Taos in New Mexico,” said pro mountain bike and gravel racer Payson McElveen of Durango.

“It was a super long descent and pretty technical in the end. I don’t think Sepp had ridden his mountain bike in like nine months or something crazy because he had been focused on the road. But he just hops on his mountain bike, and he was ripping, and he was even wearing road pedals and road shoes. Howie and I had just gotten off a full mountain bike season, and Sepp had absolutely not lost a beat.

“So when he dropped into that descent on the Tour, I had a pretty good feeling he was just going to absolutely rip it. It was easy to believe in his massive bank of skills at this point,” McElveen added.

Dreams of mountain bike success fill many Durango children at a young age. From his early days working with coach Chad Cheeney at Durango Devo, Kuss was known for his small frame, pointy elbows, strong climbing ability, and the tail whips he would try to throw off even the smallest features on any trail.

“Like everyone, he was into mountain bikes. But he would always ride the road, too,” Cheeney said. “Sepp always had these really cool and funny custom road bikes, beaters he had boughten off eBay or found in the Durango Cyclery recycling section. He’d find these super-light frames and put funky parts on them. We’d go on rides, and his bike would be creaking and rattling loose. He was this cobbler of bikes.”

During his senior year of high school, Kuss made the USA Cycling roster for the UCI mountain world championships, and he was a member of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite team put together in Durango. It was made up of under-23 stars such as Kaylee Blevins, Lauren Catlin, Tad Elliott, Grotts, McElveen, and Sarah Sturm along with high school shredders in Kuss and Stephan Davoust, among others.

While none of those riders ever would have gone on to predict the success Kuss would have in road cycling, he left a few clues behind along the way.

“We were at a race in Colorado Springs for Sweet Elite, and Sepp couldn’t make it because he was in Europe for a world cup,” Cheeney said. “We all watched the live timing for it. He started like 130th, and it was a super climbing race. He moved all the way up to like 50th or something. All of us had the tingles, and we looked at each other like, ‘Holy cow, Sepp can really, like really, climb. Before, we all knew he was fast, but that was this world-class moment. Before, you just thought of Sepp as some chill and mellow guy. You never thought of him as a world killer.”

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

Thursday afternoon music with Robert Earl Keen

Another great singer/songwriter in the Texas tradition … If you’ve not heard his music listen, if you haven’t gone to one of his gatherings you might try it. rŌbert

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~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

Gringo Honeymoon    

We were standing on a mountain top
Where the cactus flowers grow
I was wishing that the world would stop
When you said we’d better go

We took a rowboat across the Rio Grande
Captain Pablo was our guide
For two dollars and a weathered hand
He rowed us to the other side

And we were dreamin like
The end was not in site
And we dreamed all afternoon
We asked the world to wait
So we could celebrate
A gringo honeymoon

We stepped out on to the golden sand
The sun was high and burning down
Rented donkeys from an old blind man
Saddled up and rode to town

Tied the donkeys to an iron wood tree
On the street where children played
We went in the first place we could see
Servin cold beer in the shade

And we were drinkin like
The end was not in site
And we drank all afternoon
We asked the world to wait
So we could celebrate
A gringo honeymoon

Met a cowboy who said that he
Was running from the DEA
He left his home and wife and family
When he made his getaway

We followed him on down a street of dust
To his one room run down shack
He blew a smoke ring and he smiled at us
I ain’t never goin back

And we were flyin like
The end was not in site
And we soared that afternoon
We asked the world to wait
So we could celebrate
A gringo honeymoon

He said there is one last place that you should go
He took us to the towns best bar
He know a crusty (?) caballero
Who played an old gut string guitar

And he sang like Marty Robbins could
Played like no one I have known
For a while we knoew that life was good
And it was ours to take back home

And we were singin like
The end was not in site
And we sang all afternoon
We asked the world to wait
So we could celebrate
A gringo honeymoon

We were standing on a mountain top
Where the cactus flowers grow
I was wishing that the world would stop
When you said we’d better go

~~~~~

This is what real music sounds like.  Robert Earl Keen is referring to Boquillas Mexico. If you ever go to Big Bend Tx. take the boat ride!

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With his raspy voice and truth-forward songs, Robert Earl Keen has amassed a passionate following among country and Americana fans. David Simchock/ZUMA

Raspy-voiced Texas songwriter has endeared himself to George Strait, Lyle Lovett and countless fans with his irreverent style

Robert Earl Keen ought to be sick of Christmas. He hasn’t had a break from the holiday for the past 24 years, thanks to “Merry Christmas From the Family,” a wildly irreverent song that’s taken on such a life of its own that he has trouble sticking to his rule of playing it only after Labor Day. But you won’t hear Keen complaining about it.

Robert Earl Keen Talks Breaking the Bluegrass Law

“Nobody has ever told me what to do,” says the Texas singer-songwriter about his unorthodox new album ‘Happy Prisoner’

“I’m not going to get out of here alive without playing the Christmas song, so I might as well make it bigger,” says Keen, as he relaxes on a bench outside a practice space in Austin, Texas. His red cheeks are framed by a bushy, pepper-gray beard and a beret that he wears cocked and turned backwards on his head. “I feel lucky enough to write songs and have people request the songs I write. Why would I want to turn my back on that?”

Keen, who lives on a ranch near Kerrville in the Texas Hill Country, made the two-hour trek into town on this November day with his daughter Clara to rehearse for his Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree. The annual holiday tour, first held in 2012, is the latest spinoff of “Merry Christmas From the Family,” joining a sequel song, a coffee-table book, and numerous covers that came before it. Montgomery Gentry earned a Top 40 country hit with their version in 2001.

“I live for hearing his Christmas song. I never go through the Christmas season without listening to it at least once,” says Nanci Griffith of Keen’s 1994 original, a Clark W. Griswold-worthy satire of family dysfunction and drunken, intolerant in-laws. “It’s just funny and you can relate to it personally because it’s like, ‘Oh no, we’re all stuck here together.’”

Each holiday tour features a different theme. The 2017 run saw Keen’s band members, most of whom have been with him for 15 years or more – the longest serving, guitarist Rich Brotherton, has logged nearly a quarter century – play Christmas-costume dress-up to sing covers of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Dwight Yoakam. Kitschy props that reference lyrics from “Merry Christmas From the Family” adorned the stage, like the “box of tampons” that evokes an awkward sing-along and a pack of Salem Lights.

“It escalated to where we could play as much in December as we wanted to. But it was always strange because it wasn’t like a regular show. Pretty much all the people were waiting for that one song,” says Keen. “After a while, we got to thinking: ‘We got to do something more than this. We got to have more fun ourselves.’”

But Keen is far from some novelty holiday act. While he’s not a well-known figure, he has amassed a passionate fan base of rednecks, hippies, frat boys and country scholars who swoon over his real-life lyrics and give-no-shits attitude. George Strait is a fan and has tapped him to open some of his Las Vegas concerts. He’s also cut Keen’s tracks, as have the Dixie Chicks, the Highwaymen and Joe Ely, among many others. To Keen’s fans, his songs “The Road Goes on Forever,” “Gringo Honeymoon” and “The Front Porch Song” are American classics, helping make him arguably the most important figure to the formation of Red Dirt music as we know it. Still, for all the acclaim and influence, he’s never quite fit into the country music ecosystem.

~~~  READ ON  ~~~

THE COLORADO RIVER IS DRYING UP FASTER THAN FEDERAL OFFICIALS CAN KEEP TRACK. MANDATORY WATER CUTS ARE LOOMING ~ The Colorado Sun

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Plummeting reservoir levels at Mead and Powell solidify Arizona cutbacks next year and near-future threats to all the Compact states, from Colorado to California

Michael Booth

Jul 13, 2021

Lake Mead, as seen from Hoover Dam, on June 12, 2021. Years of drought along the Colorado River have left Lake Mead water levels at historic lows, as evidenced by the bathtub ring around the lake. (Larry Ryckman, The Colorado Sun)

A blunt new report based on June runoff conditions from the Colorado River into Lake Powell and Lake Mead shows the reservoirs fast deteriorating toward “dead pool” status, where stored water is so low it can’t spin the massive hydroelectric power generators buried in the dams, and large swaths of Arizona farmland going fallow.

The enormous, life-sustaining buckets of water in the drought-stricken West are emptying so fast that the Bureau of Reclamation added a new monthly report – on top of three already scheduled this year – to keep up with the dam

The bureau said the loss of water is accelerating, confirming projections that massive water restrictions will begin in 2022 for the three Lower Basin states in the seven-state Colorado River Compact. Conservation groups believe Arizona will lose more than 500,000 acre-feet of water usually delivered by the Colorado in 2022 through voluntary and mandatory cuts, forcing significant reductions to irrigated farming in the desert state. Some, but not all, of Arizona’s share will be replaced in trades using water already “banked” in the reservoirs. 

The bureau’s report for June, added on to previously scheduled reservoir updates for January, April and August, paints a dire picture. As snowpack runoff disappeared into dry ground instead of hitting the reservoirs, engineers calculated a 79% chance Lake Powell will fall below its minimum target water height of 3,525 feet above sea level next year.

That minimum provides only a 35-foot cushion for the minimum water level of 3,490 feet needed to spill water into the electric turbines. The bureau said there is now a 5% chance Lake Powell falls below the minimum needed to generate any power in 2023, and a 17% chance in 2024 — the odds are going up with each new report. 

Lake Mead, which feeds the three Lower Basin compact states of Nevada, California and Arizona, is in even worse shape. The compact requires declaration of restriction-triggering “shortage condition” if Mead hits 1,075 feet or lower. Mead is falling now, and the bureau affirmed the shortage declaration will happen in August. Las Vegas, a short drive from Mead and Hoover Dam, hit 117 degrees on July 10, and longtime local users are alarmed at how fast the pool is evaporating into desert skies. 

Mead is also in great danger of hitting “critical” elevations of 1,025 feet, a sort of emergency-stop minimum, and the minimum pool for generating power at 1,000 feet, the bureau’s new report said. The chances of draining past the minimum by 2025 are now 58%, and the chances of falling below a power pool that year are 21%.

Weather plus climate change

Long-term climate change is being exacerbated by a short-term drought lasting more than 20 years in the West, scientist and water engineers say. Even with a future snowpack bonanza – not currently in the forecast – the compact reservoirs will remain in deep trouble, said John Berggren, water policy analyst for the nonprofit Western Resource Advocates.

The Colorado River basin’s latest snowpack was just about 100% of normal, Berggren noted, but delivered only 50% of normal runoff into the river and the giant reservoirs. Water is soaking into parched ground or evaporating entirely before it can contribute to stream flows.

“It’s startling how with each new projection, you had thought it can’t possibly get worse,” Berggren said. “Even just a year or two ago, most people would have thought these projections are pretty far away from ever happening.”

Major water cutbacks for the Lower Basin states are now an unavoidable reality, Berggren said. “This just shows that we no longer have the luxury of thinking it’s a decade down the road.”

“The June five-year projections for the Colorado River System reaffirm this is a serious situation,” Wayne Pullan, Upper Colorado Basin regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, said in a statement about the latest river modeling. “We are actively engaged with the Colorado River Basin states and other partners to respond to changing conditions to avoid critical elevations at Lake Powell.”

The original compact between Upper Basin states – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – and the Lower Basin was negotiated in 1922. It was given real teeth in 2019 with a Drought Contingency Plan that first penalizes Lower Basin states if levels and inflows into Powell and Mead fall below trigger points.

The so-called bathtub ring around Lake Mead now measures about 140-feet high. Lake Mead, and its counterpart, Lake Powell, have not been this low since they were filled. (Larry Ryckman, The Colorado Sun)

Upper Basin states face future cutbacks in water use as well if they can’t deliver agreed-upon amounts of water to the basin separation point at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, just above the Grand Canyon. Colorado water engineers, agricultural interests and utilities are in ongoing discussions and experiments on how best to leave more in the Colorado should those downstream treaty calls eventually come.

Mexico is also part of the historic compact. Some states are negotiating with Mexico to build ocean water desalinization plants near the Pacific Ocean, so that Mexico could use that water and the states could keep more river water.

Colorado tries to refill the Yampa 

Colorado water managers, meanwhile, are working quickly to mitigate some of the intense near-term impacts of recent drought, including along the severely depleted Yampa River in northwest Colorado, which is a tributary of the Colorado River. 

On July 8, the Colorado Water Trust bought 1,000 acre-feet of water in Stagecoach Reservoir, with an option to buy 1,000 more, for releases over the rest of the summer into the Yampa to keep fish alive and keep the river basin healthier in hot temperatures. The Water Trust has made similar purchases in other years, but will likely have to release the water far earlier than usual this season in order to prevent high water temperatures and stagnant flow that stress fish and hurt their spawning chances.

After spending about $46,000 on the July purchase, the trust has spent just under $500,000 to buy water from Stagecoach’s reserve since 2012. In announcing the deal, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District noted the late-May stream flow into Stagecoach was at less than 10 cubic feet per second, when it should have been more than 100 cfs. The district said it has separately released more than 1,500 acre-feet of its own water from Stagecoach so far this year in order to support river health.

Cash donors to buy the Stagecoach water include the Yampa River Fund, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, among others. Tri-State operates coal-fired electricity generating units down the Yampa to the west of Stagecoach.

‘A LEGEND IN THE MAKING’: DURANGO’S SEPP KUSS WINS STAGE OF TOUR DE FRANCE ~ The Durango Herald

Stage 15 triumph comes in Andorra, Kuss’ new home away from DurangoBy John Livingston Herald Sports editorSunday, Jul. 11, 2021

Climbing with his tongue out, which has become his trademark, Durango’s Sepp Kuss ascends the Col de Beixalis in Andorra on the way to his win on Stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France. (Courtesy of Team Jumbo-Visma)

Hailed as “The Durango Kid,” Sepp Kuss accomplished the greatest feat by an athlete in the storied history of the Colorado mountain town Sunday.

Kuss, 26, can now call himself a stage winner of the Tour de France. He is only the 11th rider from the United States to win a stage of the event in its 108-year history, and he is the first American since Tyler Farrar in 2011 to celebrate victory at the world’s most famous race.

“I am in total disbelief,” Kuss said. “I never would have imagined winning a stage in the Tour, especially this year because I never felt super good in the stages leading up to this. To do it shows that you always need to believe in yourself and keep trying. If you work hard and enjoy what you’re doing, something good always comes from it. That’s what I was thinking about after the race, was the hard work and my love for doing it.”

Following a route that traveled directly past his new residence in Andorra, Kuss would mount a solo attack three miles before the summit on the last of four categorized climbs Sunday. Chased only by Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, a four-time Tour de France stage winner, Kuss built a 25-second advantage going over the top of Col de Beixalis with a steep gradient of 8.5%.

Sepp Kuss of Durango celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France cycling race Sunday after riding 118.9 miles with start in Ceret, France, and finish in Andorra-la-Vella, Andorra. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)Christophe Ena

“I don’t ride to Col de Beixalis much in training because it’s so hard, but I knew if I had a good gap, I’d stay away till the finish,” Kuss said. “I felt confident in my descending. But there was a lot of headwind on the flatter part to the finish, so I was still a bit nervous with the gap. I was suffering like crazy the last two kilometers to keep driving away.”

With a ripping descent into Andorra la Vella, the capital city of the country nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, Kuss had to fight with everything he had to hold off the charging Valverde, the 2018 world champion long heralded as one of the most explosive finishers in the peloton.

Kuss would keep Valverde at bay, as he finished the 118.9-mile Stage 15 in 5 hours, 12 minutes, 6 seconds. Valverde, who was 23 seconds behind Kuss, found the 2013 graduate of Durango High School at the finish area, and the two exchanged congratulations in Kuss’ newly learned tongue of Spanish.

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, left, congratulates stage winner Sepp Kuss of Durango after the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race Sunday in Andorra-la-Vella, Andorra. Kuss held off Valverde for his first career Tour de France stage win. Valverde, the 2018 world champion, has won four Tour stages in his storied career. (Thomas Samson/Pool Photo via AP)Thomas Samson

“At the finish, he just said, ‘Job well done.’ We were both saying how hard it was and how hard we were going over the climb and also in the headwind all the way to the finish,” Kuss said. “For me, it’s nice when a rider like Valverde, who has won so many races and been in cycling for so long tells you ‘good job’ at the end of a race.”

Going into this year’s Tour de France, Kuss quickly noticed the Stage 15 route that would ride from the French communue of Céret and into Andorra, where he and his girlfriend, Noemi Ferré, are in the process of building a home.

“Today, I knew it was finishing where I live, so I was motivated for the stage. My girlfriend and her family stood on the final climb to cheer me on, so I am really happy that I won here,” Kuss said. “I also didn’t want to overthink it or target it too much coming into today. If it doesn’t go well, then you’re more disappointed. I needed to take every day as it came, and today I focused on doing the race one step at a time, getting through each moment and do the best I could in the end.”

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.🏅It was another magnificent solo victory on the Tour today as 🇺🇸Sepp Kuss triumphed in Andorra la Vella!

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BYRON BERLINE, MASTER OF THE BLUEGRASS FIDDLE, DIES AT 77 ~ NYT

His updated version of an old-timey approach enhanced recordings by everyone from Bill Monroe to the Rolling Stones.

Byron Berline in performance with the Flying Burrito Brothers in Amsterdam in 1972. He wove elements of pop, jazz, blues and rock into an old-timey approach on the fiddle.
Byron Berline in performance with the Flying Burrito Brothers in Amsterdam in 1972. He wove elements of pop, jazz, blues and rock into an old-timey approach on the fiddle.Credit…Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns, via Getty Images

By Bill Friskics-Warren

July 12, 2021

Byron Berline, the acclaimed bluegrass fiddle player who expanded the vocabulary of his instrument while also establishing it as an integral voice in country-rock on recordings by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and others, died on Saturday in Oklahoma City. He was 77.

His death, in a rehabilitation hospital after a series of strokes, was confirmed by his nephew Barry Patton.

Mr. Berline first distinguished himself as a recording artist when he was 21 on “Pickin’ and Fiddlin’,” an album of old-time fiddle tunes set to contemporary bluegrass arrangements by the innovative acoustic quartet the Dillards. The album features Mr. Berline’s heavily syncopated playing, along with long bow strokes that incorporate more than one note at the same time.

Later in the decade, Mr. Berline’s lyrical phrasing was heard on pioneering recordings by country-rock luminaries like the Flying Burrito Brothers and the duo Dillard & Clark, featuring the Dillards banjoist Doug Dillard and the singer-songwriter Gene Clark, late of the Byrds. He also recorded with Elton John, Rod Stewart and Lucinda Williams, among many others.

Weaving elements of pop, jazz, blues and rock into an old-timey approach to his instrument, Mr. Berline contributed instrumental selections to Bob Dylan’s soundtrack to Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 anti-western, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.” He also overdubbed Nova Scotia-style fiddle on the Band’s 1976 single “Acadian Driftwood” and played on the albums “GP” (1973) and “Grievous Angel” (1974) by Gram Parsons, the country-rock progenitor and founding member of the Burrito Brothers.

Mr. Parsons recommended Mr. Berline for what would become undoubtedly his most famous session appearance: the freewheeling fiddle part he added to “Country Honk,” the Rolling Stones’ down-home take on their 1969 pop smash “Honky Tonk Women.” Recorded in Los Angeles, the song was included on “Let It Bleed,” the group’s landmark album released that December.

“I went in and listened to the track and started playing to it,” Mr. Berline said of his experience with the Stones in a 1991 interview with The Los Angeles Times.

When he was summoned to the control booth, he recalled, he feared the band was unhappy with his work. Instead, they invited him to recreate his performance on the sidewalk along Sunset Boulevard, where the Elektra studio, where they were recording the track, was located. Hence the car horns and other ambient street sounds captured on the session.

“There was a bulldozer out there moving dirt,” Mr. Berline said. “Mick Jagger went out himself and stopped the guy.”

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Amid A Mega Drought, A Water Shortage Will Be Declared Along The Colorado River ~ NPR

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Heard on  Morning Edition

LUKE RUNYON

The Colorado River is tapped out.

Another dry year has left the watershed that supplies 40 million people in the Southwest parched. A prolonged 21-year warming and drying trend is pushing the nation’s two largest reservoirs to record lows. For the first time, a shortage will be declared by the federal government.

The 1,450-mile long waterway acts as a drinking water supply, a hydroelectric power generator, and an irrigator of desert crop fields across seven western states and two in Mexico. Scientists are increasingly certain that the only way forward is to rein in demands on the river’s water to match its decline.

The Drought In The Western U.S. Is Getting Bad. Climate Change Is Making It Worse

With the river’s infrastructure able to cushion against some of the immediate effects, what manifests is a slow-moving crisis. Water managers, farmers, and city leaders clearly see the coming challenges but haven’t yet been forced to drastically change their uses.

Extremely dry conditions like the region is experiencing in 2021 make clear that the Colorado River is currently unable to meet all the demands communities in the Western U.S. have placed on it, and it’s up to its biggest users to decide who has to rely on it less.

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A dry year in the headwaters

The Colorado River starts on Colorado’s Western Slope, where father and son Wayne and Brackett Pollard run cattle. Up on a sagebrush-covered hillside, under a shade tree, the two men look down into the river’s valley near the town of Rifle. Their cattle graze on both sides, including on hay fields irrigated by the river’s water.

“Typically, this would be high water and it hasn’t really come up at all,” Brackett Pollard said in mid-June. Being a farmer or rancher in the West comes with a list of superlatives this year. He listed them off: driest, hottest, lowest, worst.

“Last year was considerably dry, maybe the driest we’d seen. And now we’re looking even drier,” Brackett said.

“Our springs are starting to dry up, up on the mountain and everywhere,” Wayne added.

The river’s entirety, from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park to the U.S.-Mexico border, experienced its driest 12-month period on record from May 2020 to April 2021. Record low levels of soil moisture diminished this past spring’s runoff, locking in water supply shortfalls until at least next winter when all hopes will be for a heavy blanket of snow.

Nearly all of the Upper Colorado River basin is experiencing severe drought or worse. Fishing and recreation closures on some tributaries, like the Dolores, Animas and Yampa Rivers, have started rolling out early as water supplies dwindle.

This dry spell comes with the usual lack of rain and snow, and the relentless sun, Brackett said. But this summer a hot wind has also arrived, functioning like a giant hair dryer pointed right at his pastures.

“It’s just like sucking the moisture out even more so,” Brackett said.

The availability of water limits food for cattle. The Pollards grow hay to supplement their livestock, and rely on grazing permits on public land. This summer, with viable ground more limited due to drought, they decided to put cattle on irrigated land that would normally be used to grow hay for later in the season. That’s a loss in income they’ll have to absorb.

“Now that we’re in our second consecutive year of severe drought, we don’t have much of a buffer anymore,” Brackett said.

Melting Snow Usually Means Water For The West. But This Year, It Might Not Be Enough 

The choice for many ranchers is stark: find more expensive feed or sell the herd.

“I would rather fight it down market any day as I would a drought,” Wayne said. “I don’t like fighting drought. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Livestock sale barns across the West are busy, as ranchers look to offload hungry cattle they’re unable to feed without incurring even steeper costs. The Pollards plan to sell about half of their cows by this fall, and suspect they won’t be the only ones doing so.

“You’re looking at a serious loss of equity in rural America, in the rural West,” Brackett said.

“I think it takes a mental toll,” he added. “There have certainly been times where you just can’t believe how hot and how dry it is. And then on top of that it hasn’t rained in a month. And then you start to pile the wind on and you feel like you can’t get a break.”

Lake Powell to hit historic low

About 250 miles downstream from the Pollards’ property, the Colorado River becomes a massive reservoir, Lake Powell.

The reservoir fills Glen Canyon, a maze of red rock on the Colorado Plateau. A lack of snowpack and warming temperatures in the Rocky Mountains upstream and relentless demands from agriculture and cities downstream are pushing the reservoir toward its lowest point since it was built in the 1960s.

Sheri Facinelli and her husband Randy Redford vacation at the recreation hot spot each year. A stark white bathtub ring marking the reservoir’s previous level looms high above the boats that rip across its surface.

The record low level means Glen Canyon Dam is already generating less hydroelectric power, and it forces boaters to be more aware of their surroundings. Geologic features long kept underwater are emerging as it declines to a new historic low.

“Places where you’ve boated for 20 years and gone flying over, all of a sudden there’s big islands and rocks,” Facinelli said as she veered the boat into a narrow, winding side canyon.

“Plus as the canyons get narrower, then you’ve got to worry about traffic more. It’s more nerve wracking,” she said.

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Ruthie at the helm

What the! .. ! =! ~`## !! That looks like Dr. Ruth (Higdon) and it seems she’s sailing somewhere on a boat …. and not in Grand Junction going into surgery to save a life .. Ya, she’s beginning a nearly three week adventure sailing from California to Hawaii. Go Ruthie! Enjoy your life!