Day 1 included an introduction to the The Headwaters of the Colorado Project from Pat O’Toole, a rancher on the Little Snake River near the Colorado/Wyoming border. An interesting note: He irrigates from ditches that divert in both states.
The Pre-conference workshop on forest and watershed health was killer. So much good work is being done across Colorado but of course due to decades of neglect the watersheds are in terrible shape and prone to the massive wildfires we have witnessed since 2000.
It was cool to hear about efforts at mitigation and restoration. There was a palpable excitement about the funding bills passed by Congress and signed by President Biden (with nearly universal non-support by Republicans) in the last 14 months including the recent $4 billion that the USBR scored for aridification relief in the Colorado River Basin. Molly Pitts drove home the need for a thriving forest products industry as part of the solution but she pointed out the need for trained workers, saying that you don’t put an inexperienced worker into a million dollar piece of equipment and turn them loose on the forest.
Much of the afternoon was a chance for the politicians running in the November election. Michael Bennet, Jared Polis, Joe O’Dea, and Heidi Ganahl all spoke. The final act was an election analysis by Floyd Ciruli.