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Colorado River Update: Was Our Grand Canyon Raft Trip “The Last Big Water” on the Colorado River?

Hi Friends of the Colorado River,

We had a great 16-day raft trip on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon the first two weeks of October, and we’re back in action protecting the river we all love. Our trip may have coincided with the “last big water in the Grand Canyon”. Right before our trip started, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that it was sending about 10% less water through the Grand Canyon next year (2022) in order to try to save the hydroelectric power at Glen Canyon Dam. In the photo to the left, we are camped at the famous “Ledges” camping area after a long, wet, cold day on the river. Great food and camaraderie recharged us and sent us downstream the next day with smiles on our faces.

We’ve long argued (and litigated!) that Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam should be abandoned because they are dragging the river and its ecological health down with it. The Grand Canyon will definitely suffer somewhat next year with lower flows and more strain on its ecological resources and health. We are DEDICATED to protecting and restoring the flow of water through the Grand Canyon, a magical place that deserves all of the fight we can give it.

There’s very little good news around the Colorado River basin. In fact, yesterday the crisis on the Colorado River got so extreme that CBS’ “60 Minutes” did a segment on it. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that Lake Powell could hit “power pool” as soon as July of next year which would stop the hydroelectric turbines from spinning. Stakeholders from all sides are weighing in on the crisis.

One of the farm advocates we have a lot of respect for is J. B. Hambly who is vice president of the massive Imperial Irrigation District in southern California, the biggest user of water in the entire southwest U.S. Hambly’s district is under siege by the growing southern California mega-city sprawling from San Diego all through Los Angeles.

Hambly routinely speaks out against population growth which he did in the 60 Minutes interview that you can watch by clicking here on our twitter page. As the massive battle for water between the cities and farms escalates, we are doing everything we can to keep water in the Colorado River too! Unfortunately, the 60 Minutes episode did not even mention the ecological health of the river itself, a common oversight from many media outlets covering the Colorado River crisis.

If you’re looking for some river-saving inspiration, we do have two stories that might help. First, our amazing friend, Yvon Chouinard who is the founder of Patagonia, had a column in the Colorado Sun a few weeks ago titled, “There’s nothing green about dams. The federal infrastructure bill should tear them down: Reservoirs generate greenhouse gases, and hydro power is far less efficient than wind and solar.” You can read the column by clicking here to the Sun’s website.

Patagonia and Chouinard continue to escalate their river-saving activities with columns, outreach, and grants to environmental organizations like Save The Colorado. In this column, Chouinard calls on the Biden administration to: 1) fund dam removal projects, 2) require the EPA to analyze the GHG emissions of all dams, and 3) remove hydropower from any “renewable energy standards”. We agree 100% with Patagonia and Chouinard!

Second, as a sneak preview of another positive outcome, we hope to be giving you news in the coming weeks about another Colorado Town enacting our Rights of Nature for Rivers program. As soon as it happens, you’ll be the first to know.

Thanks, as always for your support! You can donate online by clicking here.

Gary Wockner, Director (Save The Colorado, Save The World’s Rivers, Save The Poudre)


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