Grand Lake by canoe, one of the subwatersheds in UCRWG’s target area.

A Growing Organization: What it means to be a new nonprofit


Established in 2016 with an extensive amount of grassroots effort from the local community and funding from a WaterSMART grant, UCRWG is just starting to get its feet wet as a nonprofit organization. This means that right now, our list of “Project Goals” is longer than our list of “Project Achievements” – though we are working hard to every day to bring our vision of a robust, thriving watershed group that works to protect and conserve the headwaters of the Upper Colorado River to life.

Right now, we are working hard to tackle three main projects that we feel will benefit both the ecosystem health in the Upper Colorado River watershed as well as the multiple diverse stakeholder groups that depend on its waters to meet their daily needs, for recreation, and enjoyment.

You can help us reach our programming goals by subscribing to our newsletters, sharing information about us with your friends and following us on social media, and donating to our cause.

Your support will help us:

1. Develop a science-based Watershed Management Plan for the Upper Colorado River watershed. A critical component in pursuing larger grants on the state and federal level, a Watershed Management Plan will help us understand what is going on in our watershed as a whole. While there are currently a number of organizations that look at smaller stretches of waterways and riparian areas in the headwaters of the Upper Colorado River, none look at current problems and possible solutions from a watershed perspective. This is like treating the separate parts of a body without looking at the organism as a whole. A Watershed Management Plan will help us understand what the true cost of water is by giving an overview of how the different parts of our watershed are impacted by trans-basin water diversions and ongoing development, and how what is going on in one part of the watershed impacts areas further downstream and the watershed as a whole. We’ve already started to tackle the six steps to watershed planning, we just need your help to complete our assessment of the Upper Colorado River watershed and develop a science-based, data-driven plan for how we, as a community, can work to protect the long term sustainability and health of water resources.

2. Release monthly updates on the state of the Upper Colorado River Watershed. We released a Watershed Snapshot in August 2018, compiling data from USGS flow gauges around our target area into a comprehensive map that gave real-time information on flow levels and water temperature during a particularly hot and dry summer. Maps like this help fly fishers know where they can safely fish, and help us get an idea of how trans-basin diversions impact overall watershed health throughout the year, giving a clearer picture of the true cost of water. Our goal is to release these types of Watershed Snapshots on a monthly basis, and to add to them, to make a more comprehensive resource for everyday use by the community. We would like to publish regular updates about the health of the Upper Colorado River headwaters using data-driven scientific analysis and real-time photos and documentation of what is happening in our target area. Your support will help us put together the tools to publish regular Watershed Snapshots, with easily accessible interpretations of the data and information we compile so stakeholders can understand what is happening in their local watershed, and regular photographic documentation of both environmental issues and the natural beauty of the watershed that we call home.

3. Establish a well-equipped Adopt-A-Waterway program in Grand County. While you can find Adopt-A-Waterway and Adopt-A-Stream programs nationwide, all of these are grassroots efforts established by the local community. UCRWG is currently working hard to set one up in our target area, but we need your help to do so. We will need your support to put in time and resources to develop program goals and guidelines, identify target areas, reach out to landowners and community members for participation, purchase monitoring equipment and hold educational training sessions for our citizen scientist volunteers, and monitor program accomplishments. We know that you love the headwaters of the Upper Colorado River and want to help protect it, and have had multiple organizations and individuals contact us about stream cleanup days and monitoring of perceived environmental degradation – and we want to be able to respond to all of those requests. However, we still need the resources. We are currently pursuing grants to back the establishment of a local Adopt-A-Waterway program, but it is the community support behind these efforts that make them flourish and thrive. Your support of the Upper Colorado River Watershed Group will help us develop and implement these types of educational and conservation programs that improve the health and sustainability of our watershed, ensuring that generations to come can enjoy the same natural beauty and clean water that we depend on and love today.