Snake flows to be moderately high

By Jim Stanford on May 16, 2014

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Rounding the bend below Deadman’s Bar is always exciting.

There is still plenty of snow in the mountains, but with ample space to catch it in Jackson Lake, runoff on the Snake River is unlikely to reach historic levels.

That’s the assessment Mike Beus, operations manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, delivered at the agency’s water meeting in Jackson last night. The bureau controls releases at Jackson Lake and Palisades dams to supply water for irrigation in Idaho and prevent floods.

Runoff in the upper Snake basin is projected to be about 130 percent of normal, Beus said. But because of last year’s drought, the uppermost reservoirs are filling slowly. The Jackson Lake reservoir was drawn down to 18 percent of capacity last fall, and Palisades was nearly empty.

The bureau is releasing only 300 cubic feet per second from Jackson Lake Dam; it will double the flow shortly before Memorial Day weekend and increase the release to 2,500 cfs by June 1.

The agency plans to gradually increase the dam release as tributaries drop off, thereby reducing the risk of flooding. The bureau projects a maximum release of just over 5,000 cfs beginning in late June. Once the runoff subsides, the release will be held steady at 2,500 cfs through the end of September.

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know you the river near to Moose

By Jim Stanford on August 14, 2013

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View below Deadman’s Bar on Sunday evening. Click to enlarge.

Know you the river near to Grez,
A river deep and clear?
Among the lilies all the way,
That ancient river runs to-day
From snowy weir to weir.

Old as the Rhine of great renown,
She hurries clear and fast,
She runs amain by field and town
From south to north, from up to down,
To present on from past.

The love I hold was borne by her;
And now, though far away,
My lonely spirit hears the stir
Of water round the starling spur
Beside the bridge at Grez.

So may that love forever hold
In life an equal pace;
So may that love grow never old,
But, clear and pure and fountain-cold,
Go on from grace to grace.

— “Know You the River Near to Grez,” by Robert Louis Stevenson

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classic Barker-Ewing logo revived

By Jim Stanford on August 13, 2013

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Vintage cap from Dick Barker’s collection. With help from Rachel Stevens and Dedicate, we have managed to replicate the artwork and bring it back to life.

How cool were scenic rafting trips in the late 1970s and early ’80s?

Wayyy cool.

And they still are — when floating the Snake in Grand Teton National Park.

After the passing of co-founder Dick Barker last summer, his family unearthed a few gems while cleaning out some 50 years of rafting memorabilia in his office. Among the salvaged treasures were a pair of caps bearing the above logo.

The graphic is so eye catching that it begged to be brought back. And thanks to the help of designer Rachel Stevens and Dedicate hatmaker Tommie Williams, the crew at Barker-Ewing Scenic Trips in Moose has done just that.

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BuRec plans robust flow on Snake

By Jim Stanford on May 17, 2013

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Reed Finlay surveys the Snake this week with the Barker-Ewing crew in Grand Teton park. Higher flows should allow for more braided channels.

Heading into a second year of drought with reservoirs already drawn down and snow melting fast, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is planning to release nearly twice as much water as usual in the Snake River this summer.

Barring prolonged wet weather, water managers will release 4,000 cubic feet per second from Jackson Lake Dam through September.

Mike Beus

The agency projects to draw down Jackson Lake reservoir to about 18 percent of capacity. At best, the bureau will fill Palisades Reservoir to about 50 percent of capacity before draining it nearly dry to meet irrigation needs in Idaho.

Mike Beus, BuRec operations manager, presented his projections along with weather forecasts at the agency’s annual water meeting last night in Jackson. A crowd of anglers, irrigators, farmers and rafting guides attended.

Beus painted a stark picture of less water available for storage in the basin, temperatures skyrocketing to 90 degrees in Boise last week and snow melting in the high country above Jackson Lake at a rate of 2 inches per day. While this weekend’s cool, wet weather offers some relief, temperatures were 10 degrees above average for the first half of May, he said.

“The normals are changing,” he said.

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April snowier than January

By Jim Stanford on April 22, 2013

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Road sign on Pearl Avenue during last week’s 20-degree weather.

With 9 inches of snow reported yesterday and more falling today, April already has surpassed January for snowfall in the Tetons, as a typically dreary mountain spring masquerades for prolonged winter.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has measured 52 inches of snowfall in Rendezvous Bowl so far this month, compared to 45 inches for all of January, which was plagued by cold drought.

The center ceased issuing avalanche and weather forecasts yesterday but will continue to post automated readings for temperature, wind and snowfall.

The water content of the snowpack in the upper Snake River basin above Jackson Lake now measures 106 percent of average — which is about right, after an average winter.

Props to the spring break-starved prankster who made his or her feelings known about the weather last Tuesday along Pearl Avenue. For the winter weary, relief is on the way, with the National Weather Service calling for sunny and near 60 by the end of the week.

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