Community Agriculture Alliance: A white Christmas is just the start

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In true Routt County style, winter has come in with a bang. After last year’s drought, it brings a smile to our faces and cheer in our hearts, arriving just in time to make sure we have a white Christmas.

Perhaps it is because it just recently has started, or maybe it’s simply the time of the year, but the slow, steady, romantic falling of the snow makes me feel like a kid on a snow day. Is there any better place to be on Christmas than Routt County if you love the snow?

While all of this snow may be pretty, the Upper Yampa Watershed still has a ways to go to catch up to average moisture content and water supply. The Snotel data from the USDA shows that we are currently about 75 percent of average. The deepest snow is being recorded at the Buffalo Pass location, with lesser amounts as you move south. Our neighbors to the south and east of us are not doing as well, with between 45 and 57 percent of average.

While our 75 percent of average sounds pretty good, we still have a ways to go. We only can hope that the snow will keep falling throughout the season to help replenish our reservoirs, ponds, springs and soil profiles.

The Steamboat Springs Natural Resources Conservation Service will start its first field measurements at the end of January, and we are excited that we actually will have snow to measure this year. Along with measuring snow in the new year, we also will do all of the planning for this year’s programs. We recently received the budget for 2013, and Colorado was awarded $39 million in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, of which $9 million is earmarked for the areas in Colorado that were devastated by wildfire last year and the severest of drought-stricken counties. This allocation amount to the state makes Colorado the third in the nation. With this money we can help farmers and ranchers get back on their feet. The passing of the new Farm Bill will have a big impact on not only the staffing for the state, but also the amount of money for programs that will be available in the future years.

To get the latest information for local snowpack, visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow. Remember that Snotel measuring stations are not accurate until it stops snowing, so don’t be disappointed if the data is not showing up. Wait for the next clear day and check again.

From all of us to all of you, happy holidays!

Lori Jazwick works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Steamboat Springs. She can be reached at 970-879-3225, ext. 3, or lori.jazwick@co.usda.gov.

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