Rivers deserve our attention | AspenTimes.com

Rivers deserve our attention

Dear Editor:

Thank you for highlighting American Rivers’ annual report, “America’s Most Endangered Rivers,” which selected the Colorado River as the most imperiled in the nation (“Colorado River at the top of 2013 ‘most endangered’ list,” April 18, Glenwood Springs Post Independent).

With all the recent stories and talk among neighbors about drought and wildfire conditions, this story is very timely. At risk is the drinking water for 36 million people, irrigation for 4 million acres of cropland, habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife and a $26 billion per year outdoor recreation economy. Additional support for these concerns is found in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (December), which found that there is not enough water in the river to meet current water demands, let alone support future demand increases.

The National Audubon Society recently has joined the growing number of partners that have invested resources toward sound management of our western rivers. This spring, in collaboration with Audubon chapters throughout Colorado, Audubon launched the Western Rivers Action Network – http://conservation.audubon.org//western-rivers-action-network – to advocate for common-sense actions that will increase river flow, enhance the health of the environment and restore valuable wetlands and forests throughout the Colorado River basin.

Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network hit the ground running in state legislatures in New Mexico and Colorado and with outreach at events in Arizona. More than 800 Audubon supporters around Colorado took action in opposition to proposed state legislation (Senate Bill 41) that would allow spring runoff to be hoarded instead of increasing beneficial flows in the Colorado River. In large part due to Audubon’s outreach, this bill was amended by state legislators, resulting in improvements.

In Colorado, the Colorado River is being hit with a combination of drought, invasive species, overallocation and unsustainable management. It is our hope that this new report will help bring attention to the perilous state of the Colorado River and ignite public support to begin restoring river health before it runs dry. We can’t stand around any longer with our hands in our pockets and our eyes averted.

Brian Rutledge

Executive director, Audubon Rockies

Fort Collins