People don’t just drink from the Colorado River, we also intensely use it for recreation. A multi-billion dollar industry exists around fishing, snow- and water-skiing, boating, hunting, birdwatching, swimming, and other activities in the Colorado River basin. Tens-of-millions of people recreate in and near the Colorado River. Dozens of national parks, national recreation areas, national forests, BLM lands, and state and local parks line the Colorado River and its tributaries, all of which are used intensely for recreation. The Colorado River is not just a refuge for wildlife, in many places it is a government-sponsored Wildlife Refuge.
Along with these extraordinary recreational opportunities comes a plethora of businesses to support them including real estate developments, resorts of numerous kinds, marinas, outfitters, fishing guiding businesses, and motels and restaurants. Just like how the river draws wildlife to its banks, it also draws millions of people and the economies they bring with them. Protecting the river and the water in it, protects these recreational opportunities and the economies that depend on it. Sometimes, of course, these economies compete with each other – river rafting is destroyed by reservoirs, but power boating is enhanced. In every case, the Colorado River and its water is an enormous recreational amenity for the public.