In 2007, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its 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 Stakeholder Group's 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
Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures Access to Upper Colorado River
A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity.
Comments needed on Upper Colorado River Recreation Area Management Plan
Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit; a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.
Upper Colorado River Access funded by Land & Water Conservation Fund - CO
Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County.
Proposed Asphalt and Gravel Mine threatens the Upper Colorado River
A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.
In Colorado A Gore Canyon Victory, a Glenwood Springs Setback
What a week! On Monday, over 90 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Gore Canyon Whitewater Park on the banks of the Upper Colorado River. The park’s official opening marks the first applied water rights for recreation on the Colorado River, and as such is a major victory for paddlers and advocates for the state’s booming river-recreation economy. Unfortunately, today brought less good news from the Colorado Water Conservation Board on the propsoed Glenwood Springs Recreational Water Rights.
Breaking Ground on the Gore Canyon Whitewater Park - CO
Grand County, Colorado - After several years of negotiations and political maneuvering, engineering, and fundraising, American Whitewater joined representatives from Grand County to break ground on the new Gore Canyon Whitewater Park on the Colorado River. The park is integral to a new water right that protects the river from losing more water in the future, while providing new opportunities for paddlers of all ages and ability.
Gore Canyon Whitewater Park secures Permit from BLM
Kremmling, Colorado - In a recent decision, the Bureau of Land Management has approved Grand County's application to construct a whitewater park on the Colorado River below Gore Canyon. The Proposed Gore Canyon Whitewater Park, located on public lands, seeks to protect streamflows in the Colorado River for recreational paddling. AW has supported this effort for several years, and we are pleased that this recent decision allows Grand County to move forward with construction of the park.
Cooperation Keeping the Upper Colorado "wild & scenic"
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.
Photo Credit: Justice Greg Hobbs
AW Intervenes in Colorado River Water Rights Case
Glenwood Springs, Colorado - In District Court this week, American Whitewater was granted a Motion to Intevene in the case for recreational water rights in the Colorado River. American Whitewater and Western Resource Advocates have jointly interevened in support of Glenwood Springs water rights application in an effort to help the City of Glenwood secure legal protection of streamflows for recreation.
Action Alert - Support Fall Boating on the Upper Colorado River!
Colorado - For the past 5 years, American Whitewater has been working to protect streamflows and whitewater recreation in the Upper Colorado River, from Gore Canyon to Glenwood Springs. Today, we need your help in demonstrating that paddlers will use the proposed Gore Canyon Whitewater Park beyond Labor Day to October 15th. Please send your letter of support to the Project Coordinator - TODAY!
Shape the Future of Flows in the Colorado River - Comments due January 17th!
The BLM is seeking comments on their management of lands within the Colorado River Valley Field Office, which includes the Upper Colorado and other rivers important to whitewater recreation. The draft Resource Management Plan is hefty, but American Whitewater has distilled it down to the issues that are important to you. You can read our dRMP guide and get tips on how to provide meaningful and substantive comments here. The future flows of the Colorado River depend on it!
Upper Colorado River Receives Legal Flow Protection
Colorado - The State of Colorado has filed for instream-flow water rights for the mainstem of the Colorado River. State instream flow rights provide legal protection of flows that protect the environment to a reasonable degree. For Gore Canyon, Pumphouse, State Bridge, and Dotsero, this is the first time flows have recieved legal protection under Colorado Water Law. American Whitewater has worked to establish these rights since the launch of our Colorado River Stewardship Program.
BLM Releases Draft RMP/EIS for Upper Colorado River- CO
Colorado - The long anticipated Draft Resource Management Plans and Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DRMP/DEIS) for the Bureau of Land Management's Kremmling and Colorado River Field Offices have been released for public comment.
Both documents outline a Preferred Alternative that includes two options that address river segments found eligible for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic River System. Under this Management Plan, the BLM will consider defering any suitibility determiniation, and adopt and implement the Stakeholder Group’s Management Plan in order to protect the free-flowing nature, Outstandingly Remarkable Values, and tentative classifications of all river segments.
Management Plan submitted for Upper Colorado River (CO)
Colorado - The long awaited Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholder Management Plan, has been submitted to the US BLM and USFS. The Plan, developed by a diverse group of interests including American Whitewater, is proposed to be included in the resource management plan for the Upper Colorado River as a potential Wild and Scenic Rivers management alternative.
Recreational Water Rights Sought for the Upper Colorado River
Colorado - In an effort to protect what little water is left in the Upper Colorado River, Grand County has filed for two Recreational In-Channel Diversion water rights in district court. These rights are associated with two whitewater parks on the Colorado River. American Whitewater has worked with Grand County over the past three years to develop tools to protect river health, and provide a range of boating opportunities. These rights are part of a suite of protective measures we hope to unveil later in 2011.
Hearing canceled for Moffat Collection Project
Due to the current weather predictions, the US Army Corps of Engineers has cancelled the public meeting scheduled for Summit County (December 8). The meeting will be rescheduled for January 2010. Stay tuned for meeting anouncement.
Public Hearing added for Denver Water's Moffat Collection Project
The US Army Corps of Engineers has added a public hearing on the Moffat Collection Project. Date: December 8, 2009 Location: Keystone Conference Center (0633 Tennis Club Road, Keystone, CO, 80435) Time: Open House 4:00 pm; Public Hearing begins at 6:00 pm
Draft EIS released for Denver Water's Moffat Collection System
To meet their projected future water needs, Denver Water proposes to develop 18,000 acre-feet per year of new water from the Upper Colorado River basin. Denver Water's prefered project, currently being evaluated by the Army Coprs of Engineers (ACOE), includes raising Gross Reservoir on South Boulder Creek in Boulder County to store an additional 72,000 acre-feet of water from the Fraser River and Upper Colorado basin.
AW is evaluating how severely the project will impact paddling opportunities in the Upper Colorado and Boulder Creek drainages.
For more info, attend one of three public hearings announced by the ACOE.
Upper Colorado River - Project Update
Since 2007, American Whitewater has negotiated with various state agencies and urban water providers intent on developing new management criteria for the headwaters of the Colorado River, that threaten to allow water providers to nearly dry-up the river without protecting instream flows necessary for fish, wildlife, and outdoor enthusiasts. For two years, American Whitewater has been the lone recreation voice in these negotiations, and we have had measurable success protecting the Colorado River.
The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.
Sultan Relicensing - Upper Colorado River (CO)
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Upper Colorado River (CO)
Upper Colorado River - Project Update
Gore Race 2009 - Get on It!
Flow Survey for Upper Colorado River Basin
2018 Colorado Whitewater Events
Upper Colorado River User Survey
Colorado Whitewater Assn