Protect the Colorado River
Jessie Thomas-Blate, Coordinator, Most Endangered Rivers
May 31, 2011
We have had so much excitement with the release of America’s Most Endangered River of 2011 that it seems like forever since we released America's Most Endangered Rivers 2010! We can’t forget our 2010 rivers though, and the Upper Colorado needs your help yet again. You may recall that the Upper Colorado was stuck in the middle of the water wars of the west. Last week, our new Director of Colorado Conservation, Matt Rice (formerly of the Southeast office of American Rivers), gave you an update on the situation with two water diversion projects in the state.
Over 60% of the native stream flows in the Upper Colorado River are currently removed and pumped across the Continental Divide for use along the Front Range. After decades of pumping, the Colorado River and key tributaries like the Fraser River (listed in America's Most Endangered Rivers 2005) are on the brink. With two additional projects currently being proposed, the fate of these rivers is uncertain, as is the fate of local communities and economies that rely on kayaking, fishing, hunting, and healthy stream flows to survive.
The Colorado Wildlife Commission is faced with the important task of ensuring that any proposed water project includes mitigation for the loss of water. Plans submitted by water providers for the Windy Gap Firming Project and the Moffat Expansion currently lack adequate safeguards to protect the rivers.