Landmark Agreement with City of Aspen Forever Protects Iconic Creeks from New Dams

July 3, 2018

July 3, 2018

Contact: Matt Rice, 803-422-5244,
David Nickum, 720-581-8589

Aspen – In a major victory for free-flowing rivers and Aspen’s iconic Maroon Bells, American Rivers and Colorado Trout Unlimited announced today that they signed an agreement with the City of Aspen to stop the development of two unnecessary new dams.

Since 2016, Aspen had been advancing a proposal to develop a 155-foot dam on Maroon Creek and a 170-foot dam on Castle Creek in the shadow of the Maroon Bells. The dams would have flooded private property as well as federally protected land in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, one of the most visited and photographed valleys in Colorado.

“This is a significant victory for rivers in Colorado,” said Matt Rice, Colorado River Basin Director for American Rivers. “We applaud the City of Aspen for working with the conservation community to find more sustainable and cost-effective water supply solutions. Thanks to the hard work and persistence of so many people who love this special place, these creeks will be protected forever from harmful new dams.”

“Sacrificing the places that make Colorado great is the wrong answer for meeting future water needs,” said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “We appreciate the City of Aspen making this commitment to meet its water supply needs while protecting these much-loved valleys and creeks, and the wild trout that call them home.”

In December 2016, American Rivers and Colorado Trout Unlimited filed statements of opposition with the Colorado Water Court regarding Aspen’s application to continue conditional water rights to pursue construction of the dams. Aspen’s own 2016 water availability report clearly stated that the city did not need the two dams for municipal water supply or climate resiliency.

In the new agreement, Aspen commits to moving the water storage rights out of the Castle and Maroon Creek valleys forever, to alternate locations that won’t damage river health.

“With this agreement, Aspen is proving that smart development of water supplies and river protection go hand in hand,” said Rice. “This is the kind of leadership we need to see more of, here in Colorado, and across the West.”

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 275,000 members, supporters and volunteers.

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