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Ag leaders meet with county commissioners

­by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- Representatives from area agricultural organizations met April 8 with Huerfano County Commissioners to discuss in-stream flows, water storage and the County’s land use guide.  Ag leaders from Huerfano County Farm Bureau, Upper Huerfano Conservation District, Huerfano Basin Stockgrowers, Huerfano County Fair Board and Huerfano County Water Conservancy District are attempting to revitalize the county’s Ag Coalition, while ensuring that county government is a partner in coalition efforts.

    Since one of the primary concerns of agriculture is water, the attendees voiced their endorsement of the county’s legal filing of a protest against the application in water court by the Colorado Water Conservation Board for in-stream flow appropriations on the upper Huerfano River.  According to Commissioner Roger Cain, CWCB plans to apply for four more in-stream appropriations in Huerfano County for fish habitat in 2010.  Commissioner Scott King told the group that CWCB has about 35 other similar cases pending throughout Colorado.  County Administrator John Galusha said that in-stream flow appropriations would “severely impact the county’s ability to put in high altitude water storage.”  Case in point would be the storage aspect of the blanket augmentation plan for the Huerfano River that is being developed by the Water Conservancy District.  “We’ve got to nip this in the bud,” said John Stroh, Farm Bureau president.  The commissioners suggested that organizations and citizens voice their concerns to state legislators about in-stream flow appropriations.  Of particular concern, Galusha pointed out that CWCB has not been legally required to publish local public notices of their intent to file for in-stream flows.  King said it was only by chance that attorney Jim Felt happened upon the details about the filing and alerted local organizations.  

    Galusha reported that the commissioners are seeking input for a revision to the county’s land use guide.  The 10-15 year plan is being developed with a matching grant from the Department of Local Affairs.  Landowners are encouraged to attend public meetings and comment on land use parameters the county will be setting.  Meetings will be held at the Huerfano County Community Center on April 17 from 4-7 pm and April 18 from noon to 5 pm.  Galusha also encouraged smaller group meetings around the county to be sure a broad range of opinions are gathered.  Target date for completion of the guide is November, 2009.

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