Frequently Asked Questions


Why establish an Upper Colorado River Watershed Group?

While several smaller nonprofits in Grand County conduct restoration efforts on limited stretches throughout the Upper Colorado River basin, UCRWG is the first collaborative, local effort to organize the diversity of stakeholder groups in one of the most critical headwaters in North America. Our goal is to provide the information, education, logistics, and financial and technical support that stakeholders need to manage local water resources in an environmentally sustainable way.

UCRWG seeks to fill a critical gap by unifying local initiatives that have thus far only focused on smaller geographic segments within the watershed.

Whereas organizations such as Save the Fraser, Three Lakes Watershed Association, and the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholder Group do much-needed work in limited geographic areas, UCRWG focuses on the watershed as a whole. UCRWG seeks to provide a foundation network to serve as a common forum for the smaller organizations and private individuals working to conserve and protect the Upper Colorado River.

How can I get involved?

UCRWG is using the established model of a watershed group to effectively organize community interests while giving the citizens of Grand County something they historically have not had in the management of local water resources: a collective, nonpolitical voice in management decisions. Add your voice to ours!

We are currently looking for Board Members and volunteers. Please contact us if you are interested. 

Be sure to sign up on our email list and follow us on Facebook for updates!


What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a given body of water – from a river or a lake to the ocean. Every rain drop that falls runs downhill until it reaches a larger body of water. Creeks turn into streams that combine to form rivers, which in turn meet up and eventually flow into an ocean. At each stage, the body of water grows larger.

The Colorado River watershed is the geographic area surrounding the river itself and encompassing all of the streams, creeks, and ditches that feed into the waters of the Colorado, with UCRWG’s target area covering approximately 1,868 square miles. While that drainage behind your house may seem small and insignificant, those waters are bound for greater things – every drop of water that falls in Grand County makes its way toward the Colorado River, adding to its flow at the start of a 1,450 mile journey to the sea.

From the the USGS:A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide. The watershed consists of surface water–lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands–and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. It all depends on the outflow point; all of the land that drains water to the outflow point is the watershed for that outflow location. Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area “above” the river-outflow point…Watersheds can be as small as a footprint or large enough to encompass all the land that drains water into rivers that drain into Chesapeake Bay, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean.”

What is a watershed group?

A watershed group is a locally-organized, volunteer-based nonprofit organization that seeks to educate, support, and connect the various stakeholder groups within a watershed with the scientific data and resources needed for effective watershed management. Watershed groups are nonpolitical and nonregulatory, with a focus on uniting local stakeholder groups in creating an effective and sustainable watershed management plan that reflects the values and interests of those who depend on the watershed – including the surrounding ecosystem.

We all benefit from a healthy watershed – a robust watershed helps to filter sediments and pollutants from runoff while supporting the diversity of life that call the High Rockies home.

Established watershed groups are proven to improve water quality, with huge benefits for our local recreation-based economy and the surrounding ecosystem.

Examples of successful watershed groups from around the country include:

What is a watershed plan?


From the EPA (with our grant, we will be accomplishing Steps 1-4) :