We’ve long known the importance of rivers in the larger picture of the ecological chain. And we are seeing locally that our rivers are being stressed by warm temperatures and drought. Despite some good snow years, the West has actually been in a sustained drought for nearly 20 years.
Looking at water recreation and its importance, new numbers released reinforce what we know — recreation in Colorado’s rivers and waters is important business for the state. A recent study shows nearly $19 billion in annual economic impact from people recreating on or near Colorado’s rivers. Our local rivers are part of the Colorado mainstem system and in that system alone $3.8 billion was generated last year with 2.7 million people participating in river and water related recreation in this basin. With so many communities like ours depending on our rivers for ecological balance, water supply and recreation it is critical for us to take measures to turn these effects of climate change around.
We must do all we can to support conservation and efficiency measures at every level — personal, local, municipal, agricultural — in cities and in rural areas alike. Leaders at the state understand this and we have a great “Colorado Water Plan.” With COVID-19’s effects on the state economy, the water plan stands to lose ground in funding. As state leaders advocate for federal stimulus dollars we need to ensure that some of that funding goes to support healthy rivers and water infrastructure projects.