Colorado College: The State of the Rockies Conference takes place this week along with the release of the ‘State of the Rockies Report Card’

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From the website:

As a culmination of this year’s State of the Rockies Project work on the Colorado River Basin, the Project will be hosting a conference on the Colorado College Campus on April 9th and 10th, 2012. In addition to the release of the 2012 State of the Rockies Report Card, we will have a stellar line-up of speakers addressing the future management of the Colorado River Basin. Speakers for the Conference will include the Honorable Ken Salazar, Seceretary of the Department of the Interior, Marcia McNutt, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

More from the State of the Rockies director, Walt Hecox, running in The Denver Post. From the guest column:

At the annual State of the Rockies Conference in Colorado Springs this week, the 2012 State of the Rockies Project Report Card will focus on “Managing the Colorado River Basin: Agenda for Use, Restoration and Sustainability for the Next Generation.” Five undergraduate researchers will present their findings, including their recommendations to save the basin…

The state of the Colorado River Basin is dire: decades of population growth, climate change, damming and diversion for municipal and agricultural water use have endangered multiple animal species, diminished in-stream flows and led to the river’s lower section running completely dry. Experts predict that by 2050, there won’t be enough water in the river to meet the needs of the communities that depend on it.

As Podmore and Stauffer-Norris finished their journey [ed. from the headwaters of the Green River to the Colorado River Delta] in January, photographing and blogging as they went, they witnessed the most graphic evidence of this stark reality on the southernmost section of the river. In the Delta, once a lush network of wetlands, there is now normally only dirt and dying tamarisk. In their willingness to confront such a reality and their commitment to changing it, these two young men stand in direct contrast to the apathy evidenced by much of their generation. Not only that, they also aim to enlist their peers in efforts to resolve the messes created by previous generations.

“We need to view the Colorado River and its tributaries as a single body of water. Our actions can affect portions of the river thousands of miles downstream,” Podmore wrote in a February Huffington Post article. “As water becomes a more hotly contested resource in the Southwest, we need to recognize the benefits of protecting the whole river system.”

To change present basin management, we must pursue water conservation, innovative ways to share water between agriculture and municipalities, and find sufficient water to sustain riparian areas while fairly dealing with water claims of Native Americans and Mexico. No generation is more vital to this effort than today’s Millennials, who will soon hold the reigns of decision-making.

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