The Colorado River is the west’s iconic river, and its birthplace is in Colorado’s high country with tributaries including the Blue, Eagle, and Fraser. Yet it is a river at risk – recognized by American Rivers as one of the most endangered in light of the many water projects that already divert 60% of its flow across the Continental Divide – and more projects are proposed. Colorado TU is a leading voice for protecting the Colorado and its tributaries – and a key partner in on-the-ground improvement projects to restore habitat.
The short video produced by national Trout Unlimited, Upper Colorado: A River on the Brink, looks at the massive water diversions to the Front Range that are pushing the river to the point of ecological collapse.
Threats, Programs & Projects
Windy Gap Firming Project. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District has proposed to further tap the Colorado River through increased pumping out of Windy Gap Reservoir, diverting west slope water to a proposed new Chimney Hollow Reservoir on the Front Range. Yet the river below Windy Gap is already in serious decline, losing trout, stoneflies, sculpin, and other indicators of stream health. Colorado TU is calling for a comprehensive mitigation package including protections for water temperature and flushing flows, a “bypass” to help reconnect the Colorado River where Windy Gap’s dam has severed it, and funding for river restoration.
Moffat Expansion Project. Denver Water has proposed to significantly increase its diversions from the Fraser and Williams Fork Rivers. While Denver’s recent west slope agreement promises some help in addressing existing river problems, it does not address the impacts of the new project. TU is advocating for a responsible mitigation package including protections for flushing flows and stream temperature, as well as funding for restoration as an “insurance policy” to ensure river health on the Colorado, the Fraser, and key tributaries like Ranch Creek.
Blue River restoration. The Town of Silverthorne in partnership with the Gore Range Chapter of Colorado TU completed restoration of about one and third miles of the Blue River below Dillon Dam to provide better habitat in reaches that were left shallow and lacking in optimal river habitat due to reduced flows. The project helps sustain a renowned Gold Medal fishery.
Protecting Colorado Backcountry. The Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests contain more than 350,000 acres of un-roaded backcountry areas, providing some of the best remaining habitat for fish and wildlife and outstanding opportunities for hunting and fishing. The White River National Forest holds another 640,000 acres. Colorado TU and other sportsmen are working to ensure that these outstanding lands get the protection they deserve.