Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers Board is asking county commissioners to approve four grants totaling $63,500 under the board’s spring application process.
Commissioners are expected to discuss the requests with county staff and the applicants themselves during a work session Tuesday. The board’s grant budget for 2019 is $150,000. While spring grant applications totaled $129,901, the board reduced requests in order to allow for the availability of funds during the fall grant cycle, according to a memorandum from Lisa MacDonald, county attorney.
Commissioner approval is required of any grant recommendations higher than $5,000. Grants that fall under that threshold may be approved at the discretion of Healthy Rivers Board members.
Here’s a brief listing of the entities that obtained funding recommendations from the board, the suggested grant amounts and an overview of each project:
• City of Glenwood Springs, $30,000, for the Three Mile Creek Confluence planning and design project. Due to limited funds during the fall 2018 grant cycle, Glenwood Springs was awarded $25,000 of its $50,000 request. The city was encouraged by both the river board and commissioners to return for the current grant cycle for continued funding.
The confluence is located on a stretch of shoreline where Three Mile Creek meets the Roaring Fork River. “The banks are steep, debris-ridden and severely degraded/eroded,” the memo says. “The erosion has caused loss of stream-side buffers leading to reduced nutrient filtering, bank destabilization, increased soil and land loss, poor moderation of water temperature and deletion of terrestrial wildlife habitat and corridors of movements.”
• Roaring Fork Conservancy, $16,000, for assistance of a study relating to Fryingpan River environmental flow. “The project would include scientific evaluation of environmental flow needs, gather necessary data and create a decision support system to understand when and how the current or potential future management operations do not align with these needs,” the memo states. The initial application sought $32,000.
• Aspen Valley Land Trust, $10,000, to support some of the costs related to pre-production of a one-hour documentary, “Rivers of Fortune.” The film, to be directed and produced by Jim Havey, will focus on the history of the conservation movement in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys. The initial request was for $15,000.
• Water Education Colorado (and two other groups), $7,500, to support some of the costs involved in hosting the fall 2019 Watershed Assembly Conference in Avon. According to the memo, the conference is a highly popular event that’s been held annually for the last 15 years. “Its purpose is to bring together knowledgeable and engaged citizens, scientists, ecologists, water managers and regulators from across the state to discuss and collaborate on best practices in watershed management,” the memo says.
Through its own discretion, the Healthy Rivers Board approved $4,000 to the Aspen Global Change Institute to conduct “time-sensitive ecological research in response to the 2018 summer drought.”
The board also supported $2,400 for Michael Schuster, a master’s degree student and water quality technician, for a high-tech analysis relating to the “state-impaired listing of Cattle Creek.” In the grant application, Schuster wrote that in 2013, Cattle Creek received a listing, under the Clean Water Act’s List of Impaired Waters, due to “poor macroinvertebrate scores” near the mouth of Cattle Creek. The Roaring Fork Conservancy began additional water quality monitoring after Cattle Creek’s listing and has noted elevated levels of nutrients and E. coli in the waters, “believed to be from fecal origins,” his letter said.
The Healthy Rivers Board, made up of citizen advisers, assists Pitkin County commissioners in administering the Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund Program. Goals include maintaining and improving water quality and quantity within the Roaring Fork watershed; purchasing, selling and protecting water rights for the benefit of the watershed; and working to secure, create and augment minimum stream flows in conjunction with nonprofits, grant providers and government agencies to ensure ecological health, recreational opportunities and wildlife and riparian habitat.