Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Glenwood Canyon eyed for protection; water users wary

It’s hard to deny that Deep Creek, slicing through a rugged gorge from the Flat Tops, is wild. And the Colorado River flowing through the towering cliffs of Glenwood Canyon is certainly scenic. But some water users are worried that if they are federally designated as wild and scenic, it could jeopardize water rights along the corridors. A diverse group, which includes Front Range municipalities that want water for their taps and environmental and recreation groups that want it for fish and kayaking, has been working together to try to hammer out their own agreement that could protect the Colorado River without a federal designation. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been working together to determine if stretches of Deep Creek and the Colorado River deserve protection as wild and scenic rivers. Like wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers can be recommended by land agencies, but they must be dedicated by Congress to protect key waterways. The designation comes with land protections alongside the river in addition to protecting the flowAmong those most concerned is the Glenwood-based Colorado Water River Conservation District, which convened the group. “We feel that a locally run river is better than a federally run stretch of river,” said Mike Eytel, water resource specialist for the district. Eytel said the district is mostly concerned about a federal water right that could stand in the way of water diversions and other projects along the Western Slope. Other water users, including Denver Water, the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District, Colorado Springs and Aurora, also have concerns. Joining them at the table are groups like Trout Unlimited, American Whitewater and commercial rafters who want to keep water in the river...Aspen Daily News

Good luck to these folks. Locally generated land use is superior to all others.

Check out People For Preserving Our Western Heritage, who have come up with an alternative to wilderness. Disclosure: I'm a member of this group.

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