Black Canyon awash in water-rights victory

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The Park Service already has won water rights for 25 parks in nine Western states, the last two for Colorado's Black Canyon and Great Sand Dunes. Eight more agreements are being negotiated.

This week's release of 16 billion gallons of water through the Black Canyon — designed to mimic the scouring rush of spring runoff — will begin the process of flushing sediment, algae, debris and vegetation.

Sediment, riffle pools and reedy box elders have built up in the park since the 1970s, when three dams known as the Aspinall Unit blocked the natural flow of the Gunnison River.