Sandhill Cranes walk in a lake at sunset.
Sandhill Cranes walk in a lake at sunset.

Sandhill Cranes. Photo: Marti Phillips/Audubon Photography Awards
Sandhill Cranes. Photo: Marti Phillips/Audubon Photography Awards

Western Rivers Initiative

Meeting the Moment for Bird and River Conservation

Colorado Water Plan public comment period closes September 30.

You are a powerful voice for Colorado’s birds and the natural systems we all depend upon. Audubon’s staff and network are in action for bird and river conservation wins in the first-ever Colorado Water Plan (CWP) update. To date more than 3,400 unique petition signatures and 440 free responses have been submitted in supporting the protection of Colorado’s rivers, ecosystems, and sustainable water supplies so that we can all thrive.

On September 21, Audubon staff took your support into the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) meeting (starts at 4:36:55). We presented the network’s strong engagement around our petition and read five of your comments to the Board (see below). We are proud to be your megaphone for resilient natural systems that benefit birds and people alike.

Audubon thanks the CWCB for the long-term partnership and open door for many meetings over the last year concerning the water plan update, thriving watersheds, healthy river data needs, and nature-based solutions for climate change resilient ecosystems. The update of the water plan contains strong natural system resilience language and practices for healthy watersheds. We can do more—together. During the public comment period, Audubon and our partners are engaged at both the general and technical levels to meet the moment and pursue goals that build resilience for our freshwater ecosystems and water supplies. 

There are only a couple of days left to speak up and support our birds and rivers! The water plan update public comment period closes on September 30. This new plan will direct water management for the next ten years. With the uncertainties of climate change and threatened water supply, your voice is needed now more than ever. The petition is still open! Please sign on here if you haven’t already. Your voice matters.

As we begin to closely read through all of your 440+ comments, we would like to share with you a small sample of the heartfelt comments you have submitted.  

  1. “Strengthen the water plan to include better awareness of corridors for wildlife, as well as increased habitat for migratory and resident bird populations---especially shore birds. We have an opportunity to influence the new water plan for Colorado's rivers, ecosystems, and sustainable water supplies—values that benefit everyone. The time is now. Let's all get on board.” – Betsy, Fort Collins
     
  2. “A strong water plan means plants, animals and people are all taken into account. The ecosystem services provided by clean water in the West is incalculable, and should be treated as such. Let’s support sustained water quality and water resiliency. As any westerner will tell you, water is precious and should be protected from harm and overconsumption. Our western livelihoods and ways of life depend on our water system being sustainable, resilient and dependable; a tall order for an increasingly dynamic climate. I believe we can achieve this goal if we give the same respect and importance to the natural systems upon which we depend.” – Aubin, Littleton
     
  3. “Protecting watersheds and water for our ecosystems supports clean water for us all.” – Nicole, Monument
     
  4. “A strong water plan acknowledges that all natural waterways, wetlands, rivers, streams and lakes are living ecosystems that have a right to life and sustainable use that protect their viability.” – Elizabeth, Hotchkiss
     
  5. “A strong water plan should include clear actions for building a diverse and inclusive water space. Advancements in water equity, diversity, and inclusivity are notable from the previous plan. Considerable work still needs to be done with historically underrepresented communities. My hope is that the Colorado Water Plan update will represent not only human needs, but also healthy ecosystems on which we and our birds and other wildlife depend. Colorado's people, birds, and water are interconnected--we all thrive when our river systems do.” – Bill, Castle Rock
     

We hear you all, loud and clear, as do the birds. We sincerely thank each of you who joined us in this timely need to strengthen the CWP for Colorado’s birds, rivers, and people. We are honored and proud to bring your support into these decision-making spaces.

As we are approaching the end of the public comment period, Audubon is preparing a technical document enclosing our feedback on thriving watersheds, wet meadows, stream restoration, naturally distributed storage, nature-based solutions, and ecological drought for the plan, in addition to your signatures and comments. We are thankful to the CWCB for providing an opportunity to participate in such a critical process, and the ability to bring the support of our statewide membership forward.

Audubon’s legacy is built on science, education, advocacy, and on-the-ground conservation. We bring all of this together through you: our network. This combination of expertise and engagement makes Audubon an effective force for bird and freshwater habitat conservation. For our birds and rivers, thank you for taking action with us.

Are you interested in more ways to contribute to Colorado’s sustainable water future?  Here are three different ways you can engage:

  1. Comment on the plan by identifying requested changes or improvements to a specific chapter, page, or action.
  2. Share your water success story. There is such a power in the art of storytelling. This can be something you’ve done to help make Colorado more water resilient—in your town, on your farm, or in your watershed. It all counts.
  3. Commit to taking action by taking the Water ’22 Pledge or getting involved with local water issues.

Lastly, here’s what to expect for the final CWP rollout:

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