Returning Home to Colorado

Colorado is an amazing place to live with extraordinary natural beauty. And our rivers and streams are what allow us to call this great state home. As drought conditions worsen across the West, the work of the Water Trust to restore flows to Colorado’s rivers in need is more important now than ever before and I am honored to be a part of it, investing in this place I call home.

Kate reflects on 2020 and the Water Leaders Program

When our Executive Director, Andy, asked me to write a blog about participating in last year’s Water Leaders program I wasn’t all that excited about it. I’m not much of a share-er. In the past at least, I’ve tended to keep my personal life fairly private. Especially when it comes to the workplace. Water Education Colorado’s Water Leaders program can be intensely personal and to get the most out of it, being open to sharing—from your dreams to your weaknesses—makes it an incredibly valuable experience. You learn how to develop your own leadership qualities and to bring out the best in others. It’s an experience that I wish for all of us who aim to make Colorado a better place, and to use water and our professions to do that. And during 2020, and now 2021, Water Leaders gave me an even greater gift that I now see with more clarity. I want to explain how thankful I am.

A story of how working together can save fish

The Yampa River has long been one of the Water Trust’s major project areas. It is one of the last wild rivers in the West. Until 2018, it had never experienced a “call,” meaning that no water user had ever had their water cut off due to diminished supplies. Anyone who has been to Steamboat or Craig or Dinosaur National Monument will tell you how beautiful the Yampa River is, but what is less known is that it is home to several endangered species, which need sufficient river flows to thrive.

Leaving a Legacy

Please enjoy our brand new Water Trust video! This video showcases how the Water Trust’s mission can be incorporated into a water user’s planning.

We want to dearly thank our Board Member, Marsha Daughenbaugh and her family, for allowing us to capture the spirit of her amazing ranch. And thank you to Christi Bode from Moxiecran Media for the production. Please enjoy the beauty and story of the Rocking C Bar Ranch near Steamboat Springs!

Get to know Tony!

While we are still unable to get folks together in person around Colorado, we wanted to continue to provide a chance to get to know our wonderful staff here at Colorado Water Trust.

Next up is Tony LaGreca, our Projects Manager who joined us last spring and has been out and about the state since then keeping our various projects moving from the field.

Concerted efforts and partnerships that protect a stretch of river

We talk about the 15-Mile Reach a lot. But that’s because we are so excited about our project there. Last year, Colorado Water Trust entered into an historic agreement with the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District (OMID) and the Grand Valley Water Users Association (GVWUA) that enables the Water Trust to deliver water through the Grand Valley Power Plant that OMID operates, and boosts streamflow in the 15-Mile Reach of the Colorado River. We make water deliveries during times when additional streamflow helps to support the endangered fish species that live there, and when that need coincides with a period when there is available capacity in the hydroelectric power plant for the project to use. In most years, that window of opportunity can fall in April (you may have heard of the infamous “April Hole”) or late summer.

Get to know Alyson!

Get to know our newest team member, Alyson Meyer Gould! Alyson joined last month, in the midst of the current lockdown, so while we can’t share beers with you all now, we figured it might be fun to get to know her a bit better digitally.

Our first crack at legislation ends in success!

Last week, Governor Polis signed into law two bipartisan bills that will help us in our mission to restore water to Colorado’s rivers in need. We couldn’t be more excited about HB 20-1037—a bill that provides direction for instream flow augmentation plans—and HB 20-1157—a bill that expands a program for temporary loans of water to the environment. Each of these bills was two years in the making, and ended up better for it. Water users from across the state weighed in on how these changes could work in tandem to both complement historical water uses, particularly agricultural, and to improve environmental conditions.

Why Rivers Still Matter

The conservation movement and I go way back. Thirty years ago, when I was about to go to graduate school, my colleagues and I were talking about some of the same things we are now. Habitat for species that need to roam. Clean air and water, especially for poorer communities. And planning for a future that we could already see would be warmer, drier, and more crowded.

Through the years lots of things have happened that have defined our experience as Americans. 9/11. The Great Recession of 2008. These events dominated our thoughts for months on end. There were times in each case when I confess I have wondered how much people cared about conservation, or whether what I was doing was important.

This is one of those times, in some ways the most extreme given how quickly all of our lives have been upended (9/11 is the only real comparison for my age and younger). Our priorities have been rearranged seemingly from one week to the next. We focus on community and family, and wonder: Does it really matter right now how we share our water, and whether rivers and streams are healthy?