MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – After surveying mudslide damage in Glenwood Canyon on Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis met with officials in northwest Colorado to discuss the ongoing drought. Earlier this summer, the governor declared a drought emergency across western Colorado.
Polis was joined on Wednesday by Kate Greenberg, Colorado’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and Dan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. They visited Elkhead Reservoir in Craig to discuss coordinated flow releases for drought relief and endangered fish recovery.
Polis also visited the location for a proposed affordable housing community at 28750 US-40 in Steamboat Springs along with the town’s Community Agriculture Alliance Shop.
Recent heavy rainfall helped improve the drought situation across western Colorado, but it also increased the mudslide risk, especially in burn scar areas. Interstate 70 has been closed for 13 days through Glenwood Canyon due to mudslides. Polis announced on Wednesday that he hopes to partially reopen the highway on Saturday.
According to the Aug. 5 Drought Monitor, areas of the state experiencing exceptional drought dropped from 15% to 6%. Extreme drought areas dropped from 27% to 21%, a 6% improvement.
The severe level dropped 3% while the moderate drought went down 5%. However, across northeastern Colorado, there is a slight increase in abnormally dry conditions.
Colorado’s Drought Task Force, Agriculture Impact Task Force, and Municipal Water Task Force are on standby to respond to drought-related concerns throughout the year.
“While Colorado can face a range of shortages across the state every year, the cumulative impacts of drought stress our landscapes, reservoir storage, wildfire risks, and capacity of many water-dependent economies to rebound from previous year impacts and debts,” stated the governor’s office in June. “We continue to work with our neighboring states to implement interstate agreements and consider additional potential solutions.”