The Upper Colorado River Watershed Group
is working under a two-year US Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grant awarded to Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge with a technical team led by Grand Environmental Services. Early efforts focused on public outreach, forming a Board of Directors, shaping vision/mission statements and non-profit business documents, and considering project concepts.
Our UCRWG team led a series of open-house style “community conversations” in Granby, Grand Lake, Fraser, and Kremmling between October 2016 and February 2017. Guided by sustainability facilitator Hillary Mizia, our approach was to get folks talking about our communities in a watershed setting – neighborly, no politics. The 100+ participants included ranchers, business owners, water-system operators, wildfire professionals, real estate agents, Rotarians, and a remarkable number of high school students. We collected and sorted through meeting notes (documented on oversized post-it notes) which revealed three primary themes of community interest: 1) Community, 2) Education, and 3) Quality of Life.
Additional scoping included Rotary Clubs, schools, and a broad spectrum of organizations as well as local, state, and federal agencies.
The wide range of comments gave considerable insight into watershed concerns, causes, and effects as well as a clear message: the Watershed Group should not be political or regulatory, and we should not “re-invent any wheels.” Instead, we should focus on helping community-based projects, and there are many, by educating, connecting, and communicating with a watershed perspective.
With our second year of WaterSMART funding and a better sense of watershed opportunities to improve drought, wildfire, and flood resilience, our newly formed Board of Directors shaped guidelines October-November 2017:
The first quarter of 2018
The UCRWG Board has directed the technical team to:
- Continue development of the UCRWG Watershed Resiliency Plan
- Expand community outreach including educational opportunities and recognition of a common watershed language
- Develop a workplan to build a user-friendly, open source GIS “dashboard” to help our communities communicate make decisions based upon a technically defensible baseline
- Support local efforts including a Middle Park High School (Rotary) Interact Club effort to Adopt-A-Waterway and plant willows on the Town’s Granby Trails property, also organizing a “Citizen Science” collaboration with the Columbine Lake Country Club HOA.