From Audubon Rockies (Abby Burk):
What’s your relationship with Colorado’s rivers? For most of us, Colorado’s snowpack thaws, flows downhill to wetlands and small streams, connects to rivers, and then flows right into your home. Colorado’s rivers influence how we live our lives every single day. They are the lifeblood of our state’s economy.
Our snowpack is largely our water supply. As of February 20th, Colorado’s statewide average snowpack is 111 percent of normal. That might sound encouraging, but water is a very local issue. According to the United States Drought Monitor, approximately 71 percent of Colorado is abnormally dry or experiencing drought. More than 504,500 Coloradans are living in drought-affected areas right now.
Although Colorado snowpack is slightly higher than normal, it is expected to replenish soil moisture before entering streams and rivers. This will have impacts on the high flows needed to support healthy rivers and riparian ecosystems across the state.
Healthy flowing rivers support critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. In Colorado, an estimated 90 percent of our state’s 800 species of birds, fish and wildlife depend upon riparian habitat, even though these areas comprise less than 2% of the state. Specifically for birds – more than 90 percent of Colorado’s bird species critically rely on riparian habitats throughout some portion of their lifecycle.
Healthy, flowing rivers are essential for our birds, other wildlife, quality of life, and economies in Colorado. Colorado’s rivers contribute billions of dollars every year to the state’s economy. However, our rivers are at risk from the impacts of climate change and our growing population.
The Colorado Water Plan is a roadmap with measurable outcomes and goals to ensure that Colorado and its environment have a more secure water future. Now is the time to dedicate additional funding toward implementing this plan.
We invite you to join us for a collaborative webinar about the importance of Colorado’s Water Plan. In this webinar you will learn about a new study commissioned by Business for Water Stewardship (BWS) that looks at the full economic impact of the state’s rivers. Molly Mugglestone with BWS will go through the study’s findings and provide updated economic data on river related recreation in all nine of Colorado’s river basins (Arkansas, Colorado, Gunnison, Metro, North Platte, Rio Grande, South Platte, Southwest and Yampa/White). In 2011 BWS commissioned a similar study which showed that $9 billion are generated every year from people recreating on or near Colorado’s rivers. This new data is expected to be higher with an even greater economic impact.
This webinar will be useful to river advocates, local leaders, and municipalities looking to make the argument that healthy rivers are critical to healthy communities, thriving economies, and that we must find ways to implement and fund the Water Plan.
Webinar: Healthy Rivers, Healthy Economies: Why Rivers Matter for Colorado Communities
When: Tuesday, March 3rd 12-1 PM
Molly Mugglestone, Director of Communications and Colorado Policy for Business for Water Stewardship
Abby Burk, Western Rivers Regional Program Manager for Audubon Rockies.
This webinar is hosted by Audubon Rockies, American Rivers, Conservation Colorado, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Water Now Alliance with support from Business for Water Stewardship and River Network.