Colorado Water Plan:
Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN) scored a major win in Colorado’s inaugural Water Plan (CWP) approved in November 2015. Our engagement efforts resulted in a public outpouring to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and Governor John Hickenlooper for better use of water in cities and towns, sustaining agriculture through flexible water sharing, and support for healthy rivers and watersheds. The CWCB received approximately 30,000 public comments, of which WRAN supplied almost 20 percent during the development of the Water Plan through two drafts. Through WRAN, we saw that public input improved the Colorado Water Plan – securing the future of how water is managed for people and the environment in Colorado. Audubon Rockies rose as a respected leader in the water planning process, and a trusted advisor to our state governments and conservation partners.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ROCKIES’ COLORADO WATER PLAN WORK:
- WRAN members submitted more than 5,300 comments used to develop the Plan’s priorities.
- WRAN was key to increased protections of Colorado’s streams and watersheds. The Colorado Water Plan (CWP) prioritizes increased funding for river conservation, and contains a measurable objective to enroll 80 percent of priority streams and watersheds into management plans by 2030.
- Audubon Rockies submitted the Plan’s definition of “environmental resilience” to the CWCB in a Colorado chapter letter showing unanimous statewide chapter support. The environmental resilience definition is the strongest stream ecology language in Colorado water policy, and included important metrics like seasonal flow fluctuations, considerations for changes in water temperature and runoff magnitude, duration, and frequency. The technical environmental resilience language was researched and written by Abby Burk and a WRAN volunteer.
- Across Colorado, nine roundtables manage water resource decisions for their respective river basins. During the Water Plan development, and now, during Plan implementation, WRAN members participate in basin roundtable meetings. Four WRAN members are voting representatives on the Colorado, Rio Grande, Yampa, and Arkansas basin roundtables.
- On River Days at the State Capitol, WRAN members consult with state legislators in meetings and phone calls about prioritized Water Plan implementation. These priorities include stream and watershed management plans, agricultural water sharing, and urban conservation and efficiency.
- WRAN members continue to work locally and at the state level for water security on behalf of birds, habitats, and people.
Colorado Water Legislation 2017:
Audubon Rockies counts on chapters, members, and WRAN to make the key difference in legislation to support birds and the freshwater habitats we all need. Your support shows backing for water conservation and efficiency, wildlife and stream management plans, and your desire for a better water future for our rivers and streams. We bring the strength and support of our network to each meeting –representing you, their constituent.
ACTIONS THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE:
- Audubon Rockies delivered 800 of your signatures to 17 in-person legislator meetings and ultimately won $5M in funding for stream and watershed management plans.
- More than 930 of you responded to Audubon Rockies’ email action alert to help successfully expand a pilot program for flexible agricultural water sharing. Flexible water sharing agreements can help sustain Colorado’s agricultural heritage, valuable bird habitat, and meet the Water Plan agricultural conservation goal.
- Audubon Rockies presented 1,024 petition signatures showing support for state and federal water initiatives to Senator Gardner’s office and Governor Hickenlooper’s water advisors.
Together we are making a positive difference for birds, rivers, and people. Thank you for standing with us.
Riparian and Wetland Restoration Projects:
In 2016, Audubon Rockies partnered with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) for shared stewardship and restoration of Colorado’s ecologically-rich freshwater habitats. Support for restoration of riparian and wetland habitats is needed now more than ever. Through local fundraising efforts, Audubon Rockies sponsors riparian and wetland restoration projects in areas critical to both birds and people. These projects are meaningful ways to restore ecological processes, get our hands dirty, and connect with passionate volunteers!
Summary of 2016 Rockies Sponsored WRV Riparian and Wetland Restoration Projects
- St. Vrain Tamarisk Pull
- # Volunteers: 45
- # Volunteer hours: 390
- # Tamarisk pulled: approx. 100,000
- St. Vrain Flood Restoration
- # Volunteers on several events: 50
- # Volunteer hours: 440
- # Native plants/trees planted: ~1100
- Feet of stream planted: 600 ft.
- Big Thompson Flood Restoration
- # Volunteers on several events: 220
- # Volunteer hours: 2020
- # Native plants/trees planted: 6000+
- Feet of stream planted: 4000 ft.
- Peschel Open Space Riparian and Wetland Restoration
- # Volunteers three days: 135
- # Volunteer hours: 1100
- #Native plants/trees planted: 6,000+
- One mile of shoreline tamarisk pulled
- Intensive wetland restoration: .75 acre
- Riparian restoration 1.5 acres
- University of Colorado, Boulder, Restoration Planting Techniques Research
Summary of Spring 2017 Preliminary Rockies Sponsored WRV Riparian and Wetland Restoration Projects:
- Feet of stream restored: over 6,000 ft.
- Seeded and installed erosion control products: over 15 acres (650,000+ sq.ft.)
- Willows planted: over 10,000
- Container native plants planted: over 6,000
- Acres of tamarisk treatment: 5
- Total volunteers: 335
- Left Hand Creek Flood Restoration, 120 volunteers
- Campbell Valley Restoration, 62 volunteers
- Button Rock Restoration, 108 volunteers
- Estes Valley Flood Restoration, 45 volunteers