Keystone snowmakers get thirsty

  Ski resorts are working overtime to beef up the sparse early season snowfall in the Central Rockies, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board thinks snowmakers at the Keystone Ski Area might be working a little too hard.

In early December, the Summit County resort pulled more than its share of water out of the nearby Snake River, violating the state's right to keep water in the river for the benefit of wildlife. A local water commissioner alerted the state water board to the problem, and Keystone agreed to back off on its snowmaking until river levels increased.

"Keystone has been very willing to work with us," says water board staffer Jeff Baessler. He says a faulty alarm system at the ski resort led to the over-diversion.

The conflict was resolved easily in this case, says Baessler, but the state water board holds about 1,300 instream flow rights throughout Colorado. Since the rights cover nearly 8,000 miles of stream, he says, it's all but impossible for the board's six-person staff to keep a close eye on each one.

"We're starting to look at where the critical areas are and what we can to do protect those critical areas," he says.

Melinda Kassen, the director of Trout Unlimited's Western Water Project, says the Keystone incident illustrates a larger problem with the state's instream flow program. "This is a demonstration that the system can work, but it can only work if someone is looking," she says. "This program is a paper program unless you have enforcement."

*Michelle Nijhuis

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • in Southwest Colorado. $60K plus costs.
  • with six+ years of experience, broad knowledge of home and facilities maintenance. 207-805-4157,
  • Seeking full-time experienced farmer on 52-acre organic farm Union, OR. [email protected]
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Government Affairs Manager that is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to support...
  • Metal roofing & siding, thru-fastened & seam profiles. Stronger, more attractive and longer lasting than any other panel on the market. 970-275-4070.
  • The Central Colorado Conservancy, a nationally accredited and state certified land trust, is seeking an innovative and dynamic Executive Director to guide the Conservancy into...
  • National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time, Lake Tahoe West Senior Project Lead. Position is responsible for working with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to...
  • Forever Our Rivers Foundation seeks a driven and creative individual to lead this national movement for river health. Deadline 6/14/19.
  • We are looking for an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry, specifically focused on fighting fossil fuel expansion...
  • 7/12-7/14/19 in Taos, NM. With over 21 workshops and keynote speaker, poet Arthur Sze.
  • Badlands Conservation Alliance is seeking an Executive Director. For job description visit
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • at RCAC. See the full description at Apply at [email protected]
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival,
  • Clean off, cool off & drink. Multiple spray patterns. Better than you imagine. Try it.
  • Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...