In Colorado A Gore Canyon Victory, a Glenwood Springs Setback

Posted: 07/16/2015
By: Belinda Griswold

What a week for the Colorado River!

On Monday, over 90 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Gore Canyon Whitewater Park on the Upper Colorado River. The park’s official opening celebrates the first applied water rights for recreation on the entire Colorado River - a major victory for paddlers and advocates for the state’s booming river-recreation economy. AW has been a leader in this project for 7 years, and Monday was a great opportunity to recognize all who worked so long and hard to create that park!

The Gore Canyon Whitewater Park protects up to 2500 cfs in the upper Colorado River, for the use of rafters, anglers, kayakers, and SUP enthusiasts.  The park in nestled into the existing Pumphouse Recreation Area, managed by the BLM, and compliments the class II(III) Pumphouse run downstream and the class V Gore Canyon run upstream.  This park has it all, and thanks to the efforts of AW and other project supporters, flows will be protected into the future by this park.

Also this week, at its quarterly meeting held in Ignacio, the Colorado Colorado Water Conservation Board (which supported and helped fund construction of the Gore Canyon park) voted not to support a similar proposal for a recreational water right, 60 miles downstream in the City of Glenwood Springs. " It's unclear what evidence the CWCB considered when making its decision that the water right impairs development and maximum use of the waters of Colorado", said AW's Nathan Fey after the Boards decision.  "This project is a high priority for the Colorado Basin's Implementation Plan and the Statewide Water Plan, and I see no reason why staff submitted its findings of fact without any real data to support its claims."

Photo: Peter Benedict of Carbondale, CO testifies before the CWCB in support of the Glenwood Springs RICD.

We’re disappointed that the CWCB has not supported the City of Glenwood Springs’ effort to protect its current water needs with its RICD, or Recreational in-Channel Diversion application. It is the first time the Board has made such a hasty decision in against such a request. These RICDs are the only tool the State has granted us, by statute, to protect existing recreation needs from future dry-up. Its unclear what evidence the state considered in its decision that the water right impairs development and maximum use of Colorado’s water.

Without the State’s support for the City’s application, the case will move to water court where the final decision whether we can protect the water-needs of the vibrant recreational economy on the Colorado will be made. 

Stay Tuned.  Paddlers are well represented in these negotiations, and AW will continue to make sure that the Colorado River receives the protection it deserves.

To support AW in the upcoming court case, please consider making a donation in support of the Glenwood Springs RICD Project.



Colorado Stewardship Director

Nathan Fey

1601 Longs Peak Ave.

Longmont, CO 80501

Phone: 303-859-8601
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Associated Projects

Gore Canyon Whitewater Park (CO)

AW is working with Grand County, CO to establish a new whitewater park on the Upper Colorado River. We have worked to identify the best location, and build support for the proposed project.

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.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!