Cooperation Keeping the Upper Colorado "wild & scenic"

Posted: 06/28/2014
By: Nathan Fey

Earlier this month we joined a diverse group of stakeholders for a paddle down the Upper Colorado river – through the roadless section between Catamount and Pinball – to appreciate the mighty river, and the almost-final success of a preservation plan for its long-term flows. Flows were high, which gave us a chance to appreciate just what a lot of water does for riparian vegetation, and also how important it is to have more stream gauges that help us understand the impact of both high and low flows.

Around the lunch table (the trip included folks from Denver Water, the BLM, the State of Colorado, the Northern River District and Eagle County, in addition to conservation and recreation folks) there was talk of the exciting Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan, and the shared efforts each stakeholder is making to protect flows in the river.

It’s not every day that we get to celebrate a river conservation success story. It’s also not every day that we can point to a successful partnership between state agencies, municipalities, utilities, conservationists and recreational water users. And when those things come together, and happen at the same time, it’s downright remarkable.

Since 2007, the Upper Colorado Wild & Scenic Stakeholder Group has been working on a plan to protect and enhance a remarkable stretch of the Colorado River’s mainstem between Kremmling and Glenwood Springs.

It’s a truly important stretch of the Colorado for a variety of uses, and it’s our goal, as a member of the Group, to balance permanent protection of the river and flexibility for water users. Just last week the official door for objections to the plan closed, so it’s looking very promising that the Stakeholder Group’s hard work will become official policy for the river in the next couple of months.

What’s most amazing for us at American Whitewater is that the plan will protect the river better than a Wild and Scenic designation could, which is usually a holy grail of river protection. The kind of joint decision-making and collaboration among folks with very different views has brought us to a stronger place than any conservation campaign could alone. For that, among many other reasons, American Whitewater continues to be a stakeholder in this groundbreaking work.


Photo Credit: Rob Buirgy

Colorado Stewardship Director

Nathan Fey

1601 Longs Peak Ave.

Longmont, CO 80501

Phone: 303-859-8601
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