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Colorado Voters Approve Measures For Rivers

Posted: 12/07/2020
By: Ian Stafford

At the start of December, a feeling of nostalgia tends to rest upon our shoulders as we prepare to move into a new year. For just about everyone, 2020 has presented a number of challenges in one way or another. On top of that, we had what seemed like a never ending election season. Through the highs and lows of all of this, it's important to find the positives, and in Colorado, we are pleased to see continued support for water issues at the election booth.

The ballot initiative, 7A, was offered to the voters of the 15-county Colorado River District, and the 3-county St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District to increase their respective mill levies and provide funding for water projects including healthy rivers. Both were endorsed by American Whitewater and we are pleased to report, they won overwhelmingly, each receiving well over 60% of the vote in their respective campaigns.

The Colorado River District ran a campaign focused on protecting West Slope water, protecting water quality, and healthy rivers. The St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District's campaign was based around watershed health and clean water. Although these campaigns were navigated differently, both outperformed expectations with the electorate. 

What does this mean going forward? 

Getting these ballot initiatives passed was the first hurdle, and now the hard work begins! We endorsed both of these measures with the understanding that if they passed, it would provide our Southern Rockies Program with a fantastic opportunity to leverage funds from these respective districts to work towards the protection and enhancement of recreational opportunities within each district. 

It is incredibly important to understand that although we have passed this first test, overall, this will be a slow process. It will require attention from the AW staff that has developed important relationships with these districts to advance recreation in a way that matches the goals set by these campaigns. As we continue to work closely with both districts we look forward to working with our members that live and recreate within these districts to advocate for projects in the interest of our community. 

We know that there was trepidation from some of our members on our decision to endorse these measures, but we remain steadfast in our belief that the passage of these respective ballot initiatives provide an opportunity that did not exist before now. We have expressed our thoughts and priorities to each district as they were developing budgets related to the increased revenue provided with the passing of these initiatives. We have been reassured that, working together, these funds will provide opportunities for success that hitherto would have been impossible. 

Communities and watersheds from Lyons to Craig, the Roaring Fork Valley to the Grand Valley, and many more are going to be impacted with the passage of this initiative. American Whitewater is ready to work to ensure our mission of protecting and restoring Colorado's whitewater rivers for the enjoyment of you, our supporters, is at the forefront. If you voted in support of these respective initiatives, we thank you for supporting water and the work that we do, and if you did not, we look forward to showcasing what this opportunity is going to be able to achieve for recreation and river health.

Image by Christine Weber

Jesse Wycko

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