Wrap-up on our 2008 Conference

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2008 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds: Striking a Balance for the Future

From October 1st through 3rd last year, CRA and its members enjoyed thought-provoking presentations, lively discussions, and extensive networking opportunities at yet another successful annual conference. This was the third “Sustaining Colorado Watershed” conference, produced collaboratively with CRA’s partners:

  1. Colorado Watershed Assembly (CWA)
  2. Colorado Watershed Network (CWN)
  3. AWARE Colorado
  4. Colorado Lake and Reservoir Management Association (CLRMA)

Conference sponsors included:

  1. Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB)
  2. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Water Quality Control Division (CDPHE WQCD)
  3. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  4. Denver Water
  5. Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
  6. Roaring Fork Conservancy

And many others!

Presentations
Presentations at the 2008 conference covered topics balancing science and policy, growth and natural resources, and environment and human needs. A broad range of perspectives and expertise was represented at the conference, from practitioners to policy makers representing non-profits and private, public, regulatory, and academic sectors.

Brad Udall, Director of the University of Colorado-National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (CU-NOAA) Western Water Assessment, led the opening plenary session on “Preparing for Climate Change in Colorado”. The Keynote Address was delivered by Craig Bell, Director of the Western States Water Council on “Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future: Next Steps”.

A Plenary Panel closed the second day of the conference with “Opportunities to Integrate Land Use and Water Resource Planning”. Panelists included representatives from the Colorado Division of Natural Resources, Douglas County, Western States Water Council, Western Progress, and from development and legal sectors.

Workshops and Interactive Forums
The conference was preceded by a workshop offered by Trees, Water & People and the Water Quality Control Division on “Capacity Building and Nonpoint Source Funding Process”. Mark Alston guided conference participants in resource conservation coaching.

CRA Awards
Every year over its 20 year history, CRA has recognized private landowners and agency professionals who have demonstrated imagination and initiative in managing riparian and wetland areas. This year’s awardees were honored at the 2008 conference with a word of thanks and appreciation and a commemorative plaque.

The Eagle River Watershed Council and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District were awarded the 2008 Excellence in Riparian Management Awards for their efforts, collaboratively and individually throughout the Eagle River valley. Jacob Bornstein received the 2008 Excellence in Riparian Education award for his long history of service to the environment, including building stewardship in our next generation.

 Award recipients

Field Trips
Conference field trips included visits to Black Gore Creek on Vail Pass and the Eagle River corridor in Edwards. Martha Miller, CDOT, David Fulton, Eagle River Watershed Council, Caroline Bradford, Grand River Consulting, and Jason Carey, River Restoration.org, walked participants through the collaborative restoration projects in Vail Pass, including sedimentation basins protecting the creek from new delivery of traction sand from highway maintenance operations and the excavation project at the Basin of Last Resort, which will remove past sand accumulations. New wetland areas have been created at the basin and are entitled to protection, even though this conflicts with sediment reduction efforts.

 

Cliff Simonton, Eagle County, presented the newly created and work in progress that is the Eagle River Preserve, a 72-acre parcel, part of the historic Eaton Ranch, with past commercial impacts, that is being recreated as an open space that will be “owned by the people of Eagle County and ruled by the deer, elk, fox and occasional bear” (www.eagleriverpreserve.com). Following the tour of the Eagle River Preserve, Melissa McDonald, Eagle River Watershed Council and Julie Ash, Walsh Environmental, brought the tour to the Edwards Eagle River Restoration site, which was just starting construction. The Edwards Restoration successfully implemented new comprehensive and aggressive sediment controls that greatly exceed current requirements and standard methods for better protection of downstream fisheries, including spawning areas. These two neighboring restoration efforts in Edwards were funded in part by the Eagle Mine Natural Resource Damage Recovery Fund in 2007 to restore lost or injured natural resource values in the Eagle River watershed.