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AW addresses Local Alternative to Wild & Scenic River Management

Posted: 04/27/2009
By: Nathan Fey

In 2007, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released it's report on the eligibility of rivers in the Upper Colorado River basin for Wild and Scenic River designation.  In response to potential federal protection for Colorado's headwater rivers, and the impact Wild and Scenic River management might have on the ability of the State to develop new water projects, various state agencies, local governments, and water providers came together in a collaborative effort to propose a local alternative to Wild and Scenic River management for the Colorado River.  American Whitewater joined the negotiations in late 2007, and is currently working with stakeholders and consulting agencies in good faith to develop a Management Plan Alternative that would protect the "Outstandingly Remarkable Values" of Segments 4 through 7 of the Colorado River, as identified in the 2007 Eligibility Report.

The Stakeholders Group intention is to develop a collaborative plan that balances the following: permanent protection of the ORVs; certainty for stakeholders; water project yield; and flexibility for land owners, management agencies, and water users. The group released the conceptual framework for the development of a Management Plan that will be proposed to the BLM as an alternative in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for their revised Management Plans for the Kremmling and Glenwood Springs Field Offices. 

The geographic scope of the Management Plan Alternative will encompass the Upper Colorado River from the top of Gore Canyon, Colorado extending downstream to a point one mile east of No Name Creek in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  The Management Plan will cover B LM lands within 1/4 mile of the river, and may also cover land owned by or within jurisdiction of state, local and private interests within the river corridor.

The Conceptual Fremawork focuses primarliy on the flow-based ORVs of recreational floatboating and recreational fishing, as identified in the BLM's 2007 Eligibility Report.  Flow protection is one of the strongest features of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, but more importantly, it is the aspect that state and local entities are most able to influence. 

American Whitewater's focus as a stakeholder in the alternative planning process, is to ensure that the type and quality of the whitewater opportunities of the Upper Colorado River are analized, and to leverage recreational flow requirements to protect fish, wildlife habitat, and the outdoor recreation industry.  We are representing private boaters and commercial outfitters in the negotiation process, and are among the only stakeholders advocating for dynamic flows that sustain sediment transport, fish spawning cues, riparian health, and world class whitewater experiences.  American Whitewater and the Stakeholders Group is working to gather additional information  to satisfy NEPA requirements, and to complete the detailed final Management Plan Alternative for inclusion into the the BLM's Final EIS and Record of Decision.

__Upper Colorado River Stakeholders Group:__
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments,
Colorado River Water Conservation District,
Northern Colorado water Conservancy District,
Middle Park Water Conservancy District,
Grand County,
Eagle County,
Summit County,
Colorado Springs Utilities,
Denver Water,
Blue Valley Ranch,
Trout Unlimited,
The Wilderness Society,
American Whitewater.

__In consultation with__:
Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Division of Wildlife, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Associated Projects

Upper Colorado River (CO)

American Whitewater is working with various stakeholders to develop a resource management plan for the BLM, as an alternative to "Wild and Scenic River" management.

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