Contributed by Nicole Seltzer, Colorado Basin Program Director, River Network
Colorado’s Water Plan put forth dozens of ideas, among them a new kind of watershed planning that focused on flows and the health of the river corridor. CWCB has invested over $4 million in Stream Management Plans (SMPs) to date, with local communities matching that amount. What has this $8 million accomplished?
“Local residents and staff from City of Alamosa are more aware, educated, and interested in the Rio Grande’s ecology, water quality, and flow patterns. Awareness among agricultural and municipal stakeholders has increased as a result of involvement in the river health assessment review process, and water-sharing agreements—such as the Conejos River Flow Program—are more widely understood as a result of the SMP process.”Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project
Twenty-six communities have initiated an SMP since 2015, with eleven plans completed resulting in over 250 different projects and strategies to protect and improve river health and sustainable water use. In a recent look back, CWCB and River Network quantified the accomplishments of the program, as well as looked forward at new ideas to increase momentum and impact.
The report, Stream Management Plans in Colorado, Progress at 5 Years, outlines recommendations from state agency staff, non-profit conservationists, and the leaders of SMPs that can be implemented via the update to Colorado’s Water Plan, by grassroots conservation and agriculture organizations, and by community leaders across Colorado.
Encouraging strategic focus
- Prioritize locations of new SMPs
- Increase flow target recommendations
- Distribute information about innovative project ideas
Advancing tools and data for river health assessments
- Standardize river health assessments
- Expand collection of river health data outside SMPs
- Measure and track SMP results
Ensuring interest and capacity to undertake SMPs
- Increase the pace of SMP development
- Enhance the capacity of local river organizations
- Foster stakeholder engagement
- Invest in peer learning
- Incentivize SMPs
- Increase and ensure future funding
Don’t have time to read yet another report? CWCB staff, with a little help from our Yampa River Basin colleagues, put together a short video on the findings and recommendations. Give it a watch to learn why implementing a Stream Management Plan could be a tool for your community!