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February 02, 2021 6:53 am MST

Groundhog Day Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols


23 thoughts on “Groundhog Day Open Thread

    1. It has been relatively warm and dry here in the western part of Garfield and in Mesa counties. We are, according to what I can observe from the drought maps, at the center of an area of exceptional drought.

      I mean…it is a desert, after all.

      1. Our irrigated desert works because the Colorado River works (for now) the rest of our area is seriously drought stressed and getting worse. The next decade is going to flat ruin this region and NM and AZ.

        1. I fear you are right.

          0ur homesite is not irrigated, and not riparian. The landscape last spring produced very little vegetation, and it dried up early. Almost no flowers

          The signs of change are everywhere.

          1. Same issues with our eastern plains aquifer. Over-pumping from years of federal farm policy subsidies put us on the Maize Super Highway with no regard for the long-term health of the world’s largest underground lake. In a few short decades we’ve managed to mine a pristine resource millions of years in the making to near-extinction. This landing is going to be very uncomfortable if we don’t start addressing this problem with the urgency it demands. Congress needs an Ogallala caucus.

              1. 100%, V. 

                Like almost every other problem we face, we wouldn't have to invent a single new thing to solve it.  What it will take is a set of public policies that will turn the ship starting, at a minimum, with the next Farm Bill.  As the coal industry of 15 years ago, there is a lot of bureaucratic and regulatory inertia that keeps what we have in place.  This is a natural resource crisis and we need leadership that doesn't fritter away time on Q and the Julesburg Jihad. 

                1. When I started working on land near Leoti, KS about a decade ago most of the water pumps would register about 350 GPM. Now, 150 GPM. Sad to see, but hardly anyone I know there wants to change their methods or make any sort of sacrifice.

                  1. Ditto for my neighborhood.  We have one well that has, for nearly 50 years, pumped 2300gpm and has dropped to 1,900 over the last five years;  it's an anomaly for the area.  The vast number of wells in the Republican River Water Conservation District are experiencing drops in output as you mentioned.  The carrot approach by the district hasn't yet yielded the kind of results we need to stay viable.  

                    Our future isn't irrigated corn; the Ogallala only accounts for 11% of our national corn production.  Advances in genetics mean increased production by growers in the midwest make up that difference every 5-10 years.  

                    It's time for a radical departure from our 'old ways'.  


                    1. For comparison, the Netherlands is less than 1/10 the area of the Ogallala (41,500 sq km v. 450,000 sq km). 

                      We've got nothing but opportunity before us if we'd seize the moment. 

                    2. I know that on the rapidly diminishing fringes of the Ogallala salinity is a growing problem — even to the point that the remaining water that is available may not be actually suitable to sustained agriculture. Are you seeing any signs of that, here?

                    3. No salt issues but we do have elevated levels of nitrates in the water from years of over-applying nitrogen. That problem is more pronounced north of Wray in the valent sand where the water level is more shallow than south of town in the clay soils. 

                    4. Not to mention, once you overpump an aquifer, you lose capacity (porosity) that can never be recharged. 

                2. One of my neighbors, with an interest in a Kansas/Nebraska farm operation, says this year looks like they will be making more money from wind energy leasing, and probably more money from federal farm subsidies, than from the profit on selling actual agricultural products.  And since they have water rights, they don't have to do more than pay for the pumping, artificially limiting the true cost of farming.

                  It is a new world…

  1. This is an appropriate item for Ground Hog Day. We in Park Hill have been fighting to preserve 155 acres of mature trees and green space for almost five years as densification happens all around this area. This is the latest development:

    The neighborhood group, Save Open Space Denver, has launched a new petition drive for a ballot measure that would protect the Park Hill Golf Course land from potential development.

    Their efforts come at the same time the city’s planning department, in conjunction with Westside Investment Partners, has unveiled a formal “visioning” process to determine how the property could be built out.

    The dual efforts are the latest in an ongoing tug-of-war over the sprawling 155-acre property at the northwest corner of Park Hill, at 35th and Colorado Boulevard. In 1997, Denver taxpayers paid $2 million for a conservation easement to preserve the land as a golf course or for other recreational purposes. The golf course has been closed since 2018. Last year, Westside Investment Partners paid $24 million for the property with the easement in place – far below market values for recent comparable commercial transactions in the area.

    Last June, Denver’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) voted unanimously to support the city purchase the 155 acres for a regional park. “Our intention is to purchase and preserve [the golf course land] as open space, said Leslie Twarogowski, the District 8 PRAB appointee. “[Denver] absolutely [has] the money to do this.”

  2. There is something deeply appropriate that I read about the results of the Bureau of Land Management's move out of Washington DC and throughout the west on Groundhog Day.

    CPR's story (from a couple of days ago) has the cutline showing the impact: (my emphasis):

    Of the 328 positions slated to move out West when the move was announced, 287 headquarter employees chose to retire or found new employment. 

    So, 87.5% don't move, 12.5% do.  After the move a year ago, 100 positions [~30%] remain open.

    The Colorado delegation wants to keep the HQ in Grand Junction … the story mentions separate letters from the 2 Senators and 3 ReQublican Representatives — no coverage in the story about the thoughts of the 4 Democratic Representatives. 

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