Surviving the cuts

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Surviving the cuts

Drought impact on local hay crop varies around region
Andy Carter bales hay from his third cutting at his farm north of Cortez.
Hay cutting operations, like at this small field in McElmo Canyon, are wrapping up for the season throughout the region.
Javier Calderon picks up bales of hay at the Decker Hay Farm south of town. It was the third cutting for the field this year.
Ute Mountain Farm gets extra water

Another 1,000 acre-feet of unallocated water from the Dolores Water Conservation District may be coming to the Ute Mountain Farm and Ranch.
DWCD General Manager Mike Preston said the organization’s board of directors voted to move forward with the 7,700-acre farm’s request recently.
The district “will work with the tribe to make it available as it becomes available without detriment to other Dolores Project allocation holders,” Preston said.
“It’s quite possible it will be available. We feel pretty confident but we’re trying to do a measured, calculated (response),” he added.
The Ute Mountain Farm and Ranch may or may not be able toplant a winter wheat crop this year due to a lack of water (see related story).
Preston explained that the tribe gets nearly 24,000 acre-feet of water annually from McPhee Reservoir based on its allocation from the Dolores Project. It has also been regularly approved for 3,000 to 4,000 acre-feet of unallocated water per year from the DWCD that is intended for municipal and industrial use, Preston said. The farm was approved for an initial 3,000 acre-feet of unallocated water earlier this year.
The conservation district could stop approving the farm’s requests for unallocated water at some point in the future, Preston said. It could also offer less than 4,000 acre-feet. The conservation district has a total of 4,500 acre-feet of unallocated water that it may lease each year. Since the farm is not a municipality, it would not have priority if Cortez, Dove Creek or Towaoc requests water, Preston said.
The farm normally uses 70 to 100 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) for irrigation, but lately has cut back to 20 cfs, Preston said.

Surviving the cuts

Andy Carter bales hay from his third cutting at his farm north of Cortez.
Hay cutting operations, like at this small field in McElmo Canyon, are wrapping up for the season throughout the region.
Javier Calderon picks up bales of hay at the Decker Hay Farm south of town. It was the third cutting for the field this year.
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