Kayakers, rafters, standup paddlers and whitewater river rats of all stripes are rearranging travel and work plans in Colorado to take advantage of the best river flows their beloved Dolores River has seen in more than a decade.
Boaters, water managers, and environmental monitoring groups are looking forward to the largest managed release from the McPhee Dam since 2008.
The Dolores River Monitoring and Recommendation team recently agreed on a plan to release water from the dam, which involved input from water managers, boaters, scientists, environmental groups, federal lands agencies, and local governments.
Surplus water is expected to spill from the McPhee Dam from April 13 until mid-June, with 45 to 60 days of flow planned at 2,000 cubic feet per second. Water managers plan to release an even larger burst of water, expected at 4,000 cfs, during three days in late May (May 19-22). Scientists say the extra water will flush extra sediment downstream and create better habitat for native fish.
“That’s a great flow level, something we haven’t seen in years,” says local rafter Sean McNamara. “Bring on Snaggletooth!”
Despite the extra water, water managers say all water allocations will be met, including those for agricultural use.
The Bureau of Land Management manages regulations for boaters on the Lower Dolores, and Dolores River Boating Advocates and American Whitewater post information about boating conditions and safety.
Flow info: http://doloreswater.com/releases/
— Watch historic high-water footage from 1983, Read more about canoeing a rare release last summer on the Dolores, and watch ‘River of Sorrow,‘ a film on the ecological and recreational promise and loss of one of the West great river runs.