Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sen. Salazar Secures Help for Farmers Along S. Platte Who Were Ordered to Shut Down Their Water-Wells

Washington, D.C. – Farmers along the South Platte River on Colorado's Eastern Plains have suffered losses and uncertainty for the last year and half since they were ordered to shutdown the wells they rely on to irrigate their crops.  During the Senate Agriculture Committee mark-up of the 2007 Farm Bill last week, Senator Salazar led a successful effort to include two provisions in the bill to provide help to assist these producers. 
"For Colorado's farmers, the availability of water directly impacts their bottom-line.  When water is suddenly made unavailable their entire year can turn from a potential profit to a guaranteed loss" said Senator Salazar.  "These two provisions in the Farm Bill will help to ensure our farmers along the South Platte River can retire some of their currently unusable acreage into the Conservation Reserve Program and hopefully build enough data so that in the future the State and these farmers can avoid another sudden shutdown of water-wells."
Senator Salazar's first provision began as a common-sense idea from the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District (CCWCD).  The provision allows producers to apply for USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) cost-share program as a group, thus encouraging greater participation in conservation initiatives that benefit from wide participation.  An example of this is CCWCD's well monitoring program.  This program installs meters on existing wells to better monitor groundwater pumping to provide accurate water usage data for different cropping practices as well as the relationship between groundwater and the South Platte River surface flows.
Senator Salazar's second provision provides an option for producers who have lost their water in WeldCounty.  Currently producers in Weld County who wish to retire their land cannot do so because 25% of the county's cropland is already enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the current cap.  The provision will allow USDA to enroll producers on the South Platte River in Weld County, who had their water-wells shut down by State order, into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Background: When producers on the South Platte River in Weld, Adams and Morgan Counties had their 449 wells shut down by State order in 2006, tens of thousands of acres dried up.  Of those wells, 219 remain shutdown today.  Weld County is currently at or above the county cap of lands allowed in CRP (25%), effectively eliminating the opportunity for producers to retire their lands to soften their economic shock. 
The Farm Bill is expected to be debated by the full Senate as early as next week.  If approved the bill will go to conference committee with the House and then to the President's desk for his signature.
In May of 2006 Senator Salazar encouraged cities and irrigation companies along the Front Range to help relieve the looming agricultural thirst.  Senator Salazar wrote a letter to the cities of Boulder andSterling and irrigation companies controlling water in Highlands Ranch, Hudson and Keenesburg.  Senator Salazar's letter from last year is included below:
May 18, 2006
Mr. Frank Bruno                                              Mr. Joe Kiolbasa
Boulder City Manager                                      Sterling City Manager
Municipal Building                                            P.O. Box 4000
1777 Broadway – 2nd Floor                              Sterling, CO   80751-0400
Boulder, CO  80306
Henrylyn Irrigation District                                Centennial Water & Sanitation District
Attn:  Rodney Baumgartner, Manager   62 W. Plaza Drive
617 Birch                                                         Highlands Ranch, CO  80129
Hudson, CO  80642
I am writing to encourage you to do what you can, as quickly as you can, to help relieve the crisis forColorado farmers along the South Platte whose wells have been shut down. Their crisis is immediate, and your decisions and actions over the next few hours and days are critical.
I fully understand the complexities of this issue; I know that there is no simple fix in either the short-term or the long-term.  However, I strongly believe that in the West, we help our neighbors through hard times when we can.
This is one of those times.  These farmers' crops will wither and die within days if there is no water.  The loss of these crops, could, ultimately, result in the loss of these farms, with foreclosures across eastern Colorado.  I urge you to act immediately to help in this emergency situation.
Ken Salazar 
                                                            United States Senator

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Gov. Bill Ritter today released his proposed higher-education budget for fiscal 2008-09, which starts July 1. The proposal would increase overall state funding for Colorado's system of public higher education by $59.5 million – a boost of 8 percent over the current fiscal year.
The Governor's budget includes an increase of $48.6 million to support the state's universities, colleges and community colleges. These funds reach the schools in the form of both tuition stipends through the College Opportunity Fund and "fee for service" agreements between the schools and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE).
The budget also: adds $7.3 million for need-based financial aid; restores cuts that were made in previous years to work-study funding by adding $1.7 million; and allocates an additional $800,000 for pre-collegiate programs and scholarships. This represents an increase of more than 10 percent for financial aid, and the increase to need-based financial aid will benefit more than 4,000 students.
The CCHE is scheduled to review the budget proposal at 10 a.m. Thursday at Mesa State College in Grand Junction
"The economic health of the state is directly tied to our post-secondary education system." Gov. Ritter said. "A major part of the equation is affordability. By restoring funding levels to the work study program, increasing financial aid, and providing additional funding for scholarships, we are creating opportunities and keeping college as affordable and accessible as possible to all Coloradans. At the same time, we continue to dig higher education out of the financial hole it fell into during the recession."
The FY08-09 proposal follows Gov. Ritter's FY07-08 higher-ed funding plan, which provided an additional $52.1 million in state support, a 7.5 percent increase over FY06-07.
"The Governor's budget clearly demonstrates the value he places on higher education," said Department of Higher Education Executive Director David Skaggs. "Our competitive edge in a global, 21st century economy depends on a vibrant post-secondary education system. With this budget proposal, the Governor is stretching every dollar available to higher-ed as far as it will go."
The Governor's entire executive branch budget proposal for FY08-09 will be submitted to the legislature's Joint Budget Committee on Thursday. Gov. Ritter is scheduled to appear before the JBC on Nov. 8.    

Monday, October 29, 2007


Gov. Bill Ritter today sent the following letter to the Colorado Rockies baseball club, congratulating the players, coaches and owners on their unforgettable 2007 season.


October 29, 2007


Charles and Richard Monfort

Keli McGregor

Clint Hurdle

2001 Blake Street

Denver, CO 80205


Dear Charlie, Dick, Keli and Clint:


On behalf of the people of Colorado, I extend my heart-felt congratulations to the entire Colorado Rockies organization – the players, their families, the coaches, front office and staff – on your unforgettable season.


Your September and October accomplishments will go down in the annals of baseball lore as one of the most impressive feats in sports history. By winning the National League Championship and making it to the World Series, you showed this city, state and country what true grit, determination and a belief in yourself can accomplish.


Your "anyone, anytime" attitude gave new meaning to the notion of teamwork. And we all can learn a lesson or two about patience, the value of crafting a long-term plan to cultivate homegrown talent, and sticking to the game plan when it would be easier to head down a different path. You galvanized the state and thrilled the nation.


Once again, congratulations on your awe-inspiring accomplishments.




Bill Ritter, Jr.



# # #



Gov. Bill Ritter today announced the appointments of dozens of Coloradans to three education panels established by legislation during the 2007 session of the General Assembly: the State Graduation Guidelines Development Council, the Quality Teachers Commission and the On-Line Learning Advisory Board. 

The 12-member State Graduation Guidelines Development Council was established by House Bill 07-1118 (Rep. Todd/Sen. Tupa) to ensure high academic standards at all Colorado schools. Appointments are for two years, and the appointees are:

Arthur G. Bogardus of Erie

Mark E. Hudson of Pueblo

Helayne B. Jones of Boulder

John A. Lanning of Denver

Nina Lopez of Boulder

Kerry H. Lord of Denver

Shatta G. Mejia of Denver

Dan R. Morris of Aurora

Karin A. Reynolds of Colorado Springs

George W. Sparks of Denver

Paula R. Stephenson of Steamboat Springs

Randy Zila of Loveland

The 13-member Quality Teachers Commission was established by Senate Bill 07-140 (Rep. Benefield/Sen. Spence) to assess the development and implementation of a unique teacher identifier system that will complement existing and emerging educational databases, particularly the longitudinal growth model being developed according to HB 07-1048. Appointments are for two years, and the appointees are:

Nella B. Anderson of Gunnison

Julie Carnahan of Boulder

Matt Gianneschi of Aurora

Scott Groginsky of Golden

Bill Hodges of Castle Rock

Nate Howard of Denver

Evie Hudak of Westminster

Lisa Marie Kramer of Littleton

Jacqueline J. Paone of Golden

Deidra J. Roque of Pueblo

Maria Salazar of Littleton

Karen Stroup of Littleton

Kim Ursetta of Denver

The 11-member On-Line Learning Advisory Board was established by SB 07-215 (Rep. T. Carroll/Sen. Windels) to support on-line education programs, students, parents, authorizers and other entities by providing information and access to data. The board also will facilitate the certification of multi-district programs in accordance with rules that will be established by the board. Appointments are for two years. One appointment is still pending. The 10 appointees named today are:

Lori J. Cooney of Aurora

John W. Covington of Pueblo

Christopher E. Gdowski of Arvada

J. Renee Howell of Centennial

Gary W. Johnson of Grand Junction

John A. Knapp of Rocky Ford

Michael A. Poore of Aurora

Kent D. Tamsen of Colorado Springs

Scott L. Thompson of Lakewood

Kindra T. Whitmyre of Parker

The three panels will complement the efforts of Gov. Ritter's P-20 Education Council, which is examining comprehensive education reform to ensure that the state's education systems from pre-school through grad-school are aligned along a seamless education pathway. The Council's goal is to produce the most-educated and highly-skilled workforce in the country.