President Biden restores Bears Ears National Monument

Bennet Applauds the Biden Administration's Decision to Restore Bears Ears National Monument

Bennet Fought to Protect Bears Ears for Years

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the following statement after the Biden Administration announced they will restore protections for Bears Ears National Monument: "Over the last four years, tribal communities, Coloradans and the American people have made clear: Bears Ears is a wild and sacred place that should be protected.  With this decision, President Biden has listened to and respected the tribes from the Four Corners Region, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. By restoring Bears Ears National Monument, President Biden has helped our nation reaffirm our commitment to our tribes, and ensure the area is managed in a balanced way to not only preserve our cultural heritage, but also strengthen our economy. I look forward to the administration moving forward on a management and funding plan, developed in partnership with our tribes, that will protect this sacred landscape for generations.
Ute Mountain Ute Councilman Malcolm Lehi, Tribal Chairman Manuel Heart, and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet attended the White House signing ceremony.

Following a strong appeal from Native American Tribes with close ties to cultural and archaeological features of a monument first created by President Obama, President Biden restored the monument to its original size after the previous Administration gravely diminished it.

biden signs

The President did so on the recommendation of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who visited the monument last spring and had meaningful consultation with the Tribal representatives, including Kogovsek & Associates' client the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. The Tribe is based in Towaoc, Colorado near the Utah border, and also has the White Mesa community in San Juan County, Utah, in the heart of Bears Ears.

Ute Mountain Chairman Manuel Heart and Malcolm Lehi, the tribal council member from White Mesa proudly attended the signing ceremony at the White House. They have worked with the Bears Ears tribal coalition and with
Senator Michael Bennet, who has been a strong and
vocal supporter of restoring the monument to its
original 1.3 million acres.

President Joe Biden signs the restoration of Bears Ears National Monument to its original size while Tribal leaders, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Senator Michael Bennet look on.

The very important work of developing a management plan for the monument will now begin, and will including the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies along with tribal representatives.

At the same time, it is expected that the State of Utah will appeal take this decision to the federal court. Utah and its congressional delegation have long opposed the monument and were instrumental in the massive reduction of monument acreage.

Lawsuits filed by the Native American Tribes and national environmental groups decrying the previous Administration's slashing of the monument's size were recently removed the active docket of the federal court, but have not been formally dismissed.

Opinion: We're running out of water.
It's time to overhaul Colorado's storage system

Read the piece here opinion

State of Colorado provides $30 million in wildfire mitigation help

The Colorado General Assembly passed a much-needed wildfire mitigation funding measure with strong bipartisan support, and Governor Jared Polis quickly signed it into law, understanding the immediate need for help on the major burn scars from historical fires in the fall of 2020. The funding will be managed through the Colorado Water Conservation Board in an effort to protect and restore watershed health to the fire regions.

"Colorado's support will further the efforts of local communities, working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service, to protect water providers and water quality downstream of the fires," Kogovsek & Associates President Christine Arbogast said. "The non-federal effort had to be undertaken even though the vast majority of the burn area is federal land. The potential damage while waiting for more federal support is enormous."

To see how the ash from the burn scar affects the downstream water click here Poudre River

She added that emergency supplemental funds are needed, along with a fresh look at how forest management, wildfire prevention, wildfire suppression and wildfire mitigation programs are managed and funded.

Our firm has been retained by the City of Greeley, Colorado to assist them and a coalition of other stakeholders in securing federal and state support for a much-needed mitigation plan following the catastrophic Cameron Peak Fire last fall. The coalition will also coordinate with another group of organizations seeking similar support for the mitigation of lands burned in the East Troublesome Fire during the same period.

At one time, the two historically damaging fires came close to merging.

"During these times of prolonged drought in the West, we've experienced the added threat of wildfire, the reality of more wildfires, the increasing severity of wildfire, and of course the aftermath of wildfire. For water providers, like the City of Greeley and its partners in this effort, the problems really begin after the fire is out," Christine Arbogast, president of Kogovsek & Associates, Inc., said. "The potential damage to water quality and to water infrastructure is enormous, and must be mitigated in a timely and effective way. Any delay in starting the mitigation plan only increases costs later."

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who chairs the key subcommittee which deals with forest health and management, and Senator John Hickenlooper have asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for help. (click here to read the letter)

More money flows to Arkansas Valley Conduit

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tanya Trujillo visited the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District offices on July 23 to learn more about the Arkansas Valley Conduit.
L-R: District engineer Kevin Meador; District Finance Director Leann Noga; Christine Arbogast, Kogovsek & Associates, Inc., District Board President Bill Long, Ms. Trujillo, District Executive Director Jim Broderick, Reclamation Regional Director Brent Esplin, and Reclamation Area Manager Jeff Rieker. (photo by Patty Rivas)

The new Administration included $10 million in its proposed FY '22 Bureau of Reclamation budget for ongoing work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, getting the project closer and closer to a construction start. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved that amount in its FY '22 Energy and Water Apppropriatons bill.

In January, 2021 the Bureau of Reclamation directed an additional $11 million in funding to the Arkansas Valley Conduit, which will provide safe drinking water to 50,000 people in the Lower Arkansas Valley currently using groundwater for its drinking water supply. Much of the groundwater is contaminated with naturally occurring radionuclides above federal standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

l to r At an October 3, 2020 commemorative event celebrating the funding partnership for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, from left to right: former Commissioner of Reclamation Brenda Burman; former Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt; former Senator Cory Gardner; Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District President Bill Long; Executive Director of the Colorado Water Conservation District Becky Mitchell; and Senator Michael Bennet.

With this additional investment from the FY '21 Energy and Water appropriations bill, the Bureau of Reclamation has the resources to continue with design, right-of-way work and other pre-construction requirements prior to an anticipated construction bid for the first reach of the project in late 2022.

With ongoing bipartisan support of the Colorado congressional delegation, $28 million was provided in February of 2020. Reclamation support for the project strongly rebounded under the leadership of then Commissioner Brenda Burman. The $28 million investment was made after the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservation District received state approval for a $100 million funding package from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The current project plan includes Reclamation funding for the project's "trunk line" running from Pueblo to Eads, east of Lamar. The state funding, or funding from other programs like USDA Rural Development, will pay for the connections from local provides to the trunk line.

This map shows the modified New Concept route of AVC beginning at a point just east of the Pueblo Airport Industrial Park. This route is under discussion by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Southeastern Water Conservancy District but has not reached final approval stages.

Colorado responds to gaps in connectivity for Colorado Ute Indian Tribes

The Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Indian Tribes have been working for several years on improvements to their "connectivity" in the rural southwestern region where their reservations are headquartered. COVID-19 exposed the seriousness of the connectivity gap for the Tribes and rural communities throughout the United States.

The Colorado state legislature recognized this, and passed a bill which includes $20 million for the two Tribes to expand their broadband. Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law on June 28.

We contacted legislators on committees of jurisdiction and in leadership in support of the bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support. Coupled with many potential funding opportunities at the federal level, the two Ute Tribes can further their well-developed plans and implement them, boosting educational and economic development opportunities as well as general functions such as emergency response and managing tribal government.

Work on state, water district agreement for Kansas refuge continues

A Kansas groundwater district, the State of Kansas and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are making significant progress in the effort to improve conditions at the Quivira Wildlife Refuge in Central Kansas while also protecting the critical agricultural economy of the region.

At the same time, the Water Protection Association of Central Kansas, a coalition of area agriculture producers and water users, has formed a non-profit organization, the ACRES Initiative, to explore funding resources to assist with the refuge water needs. The first contribution of $25,000 was made in January by a local farm co-op and to date, well over $100,000 has been pledged.

Kogovsek & Associates has been retained to assist in finding funding resources for conservation and infrastructure. The concept is creation of partnerships between the WaterPACK and non-governmental organizations, as well as possible application for federal grants and foundation funding.

The refuge's manager, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has determined that an insufficient amount of water is reaching the refuge to support the wildlife species which depend on it.

Reduction of water use by the irrigators is a necessary part of the effort to improve water supplies within the refuge boundaries. But, irrigators need to manage the conservation effort in a manner which minimizes impacts to the regional rural and ag economy.

A coordinated effort by all levels of government and the local water rights holders/producers is absolutely necessary to resolve this issue in a manner which benefits the refuge and minimizes the economic and environmental impact to the producer and the basin.

© 2021 Kogovsek & Associates - Phone: 720-373-3655 - Fax: 720-489-0524  - Email: christineKandA@aol.com