Crystal River might get attention |

Crystal River might get attention

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

REDSTONE – The Crystal River appears headed for a special designation that could draw attention to a back-burner plan for a reservoir upstream from Redstone.

The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association scheduled a news conference for Tuesday at the Placita Overlook south of Redstone for “a major environmental announcement concerning the Crystal River.”

The speakers will include local and state elected officials as well as representatives of conservation groups. Most notable is a scheduled presentation by a representative of American Rivers.

American Rivers announced that May 15 is also the date it will release its annual list of the 10 most endangered rivers in the country. Sources said the two news conferences aren’t a coincidence. Beyond that, mum’s the word on the announcement. American Rivers said its information cannot be released until the morning of May 15.

The announcement from the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association noted that the Crystal River provides drinking water to more than 7,000 people, delivers water for agricultural irrigation and “delights” fishermen, kayakers and sightseers.

“However, the Crystal River is threatened with a dam and a 4,000-acre-foot reservoir between Redstone and Marble; a significant water diversion from Avalanche Creek, the largest tributary to the Crystal; and a hydropower dam and 5,000-acre-foot reservoir on Yank Creek, a tributary,” the association said in its statement.

Speakers at the news conference will discuss opportunities to maintain river flows and provide permanent river protection.

Pitkin County and the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association applied for the most endangered designation from American Rivers. The organization confirmed that a river in Colorado made the list. The Aspen Times was unable to obtain the application Wednesday.

Cracking the list could draw attention from the federal government to the potential for diversions on what is now the free-flowing Crystal River.

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is one of the best-known and longest-lived reports in the environmental movement,” American Rivers said in its announcement. “Each year since 1986, local river conservationists have teamed up with American Rivers to use the report to save their local rivers, consistently scoring policy successes that benefit rivers and the communities through which they flow.”

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