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Gunnison Basin (Colorado) Stewardship Program

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Gunnison River a top AW Stewardship priority for 2013

The Gunnison River Basin in Colorado is rich with whitewater opportunities, including Escalante Creek, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Oh Be Joyful. With over 20 whitewater runs, the Gunnison Basin is the last major watershed in the seven state Colorado River Basin that is missing defined flow information for recreational needs. American Whitewater is working with local paddlers and visitors alike to evaluate flows on rivers throughout the Basin, and to build support from water managers for policies that sustain recreational needs. The project is a big one for American Whitewater— we've added new staff and will be recruiting several leading volunteers to tackle this ambitious project.

Jonny Meyers enjoys the Gunnison whitewater park at medium summer flows (photo: Chris Menges)

Our work in the Gunnison River Basin will build on our successes over the last five years in defining recreational flow needs throughout the entire Colorado River Basin. The information we've gathered has helped to protect streamflows in the Yampa and Upper Colorado Rivers, restore spring boating flows to the Dolores River, and define safe paddling opportunities in the Virgin River. AW's work has also changed how federal agencies review the impacts that large reservoirs and drought conditions have on rivers across the West.

As we tackle the Gunnison River Basin this year, we’ll be conducting a flow survey to gather the information we need to develop a more complete picture of the recreational flow needs for the entire Colorado River Basin. AW requests that all paddlers familiar with any section(s) within the Gunnison Basin participate in the flow survey, which can be taken at the following link: Gunnison River Basin Flow Survey 2013. Only with your help and participation can we generate robust and scientifically defensible flow-preference data, and this will strengthen our ability to safeguard paddler interests now and in the future.

If you have any questions about our Gunnison Basin Stewardship Program or would like to volunteer, please contact Chris Menges at

Rolf Kelly paddling in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River (photo: Tom Janney).

Escalante creek, a Gunnison river tributary, is a springtime favorite (photo: Joe Keck). — Chris Menges 2013/04/22 17:25

The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.

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