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Press Release: Save The Colorado Launches “Rights of Nature” Program to Counter Wall Street Takeover of Colorado’s Rivers

For Immediate Release
January 27, 2021
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Save The Colorado Launches “Rights of Nature” Program to Counter Wall Street Takeover of Colorado’s Rivers

Colorado: Today, Save The Colorado launched a “Rights of Nature” program to help protect rivers in Colorado against the tsunami of increasing influence by Wall Street investors and other ultra-wealthy people. The Rights of Nature program will work with local communities across the state of Colorado to help put in place “Rights of Rivers” laws and regulations at the municipal level.

Over the last few months, news reports signal a vastly accelerating effort by Wall Street investors, hedge funds, and other ultra-wealthy people to profit off of the buying and selling of river water as both population growth accelerates the demand for water and climate change decreases the amount of water available in Colorado’s rivers and streams. News reports in Aspen Journalism (here), the New York Times (here), Colorado Newsline (here), and Writers on the Range (here) are just a few examples of the acceleration in the commodification of Colorado’s rivers and water. To the point: the New York Times article is titled, “Wall Street Eyes Billions in Colorado Water”.

“We’re thrilled to offer this new program to counter the anxiety people are feeling across Colorado as ultra-rich investors threaten local rivers for profit,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado. “Local communities in Colorado need to know that they have opportunities to protect their local environment and rivers using ‘Rights of Nature’ ordinances inside their municipal boundary.”

Save The Colorado is partnering with the Boulder-based Earth Law Center on the new program. The Earth Law Center was founded over a decade ago and has worked with communities and governments across the world to help establish Rights of Nature laws.

Save The Colorado’s Rights of Nature program has already begun discussions with groups in Boulder and Fort Collins — on Boulder Creek with the group, “Boulder Rights of Nature“; and on the Cache la Poudre River with “Save The Poudre” — to establish Rights of Nature programs. Other rivers and creeks in Colorado where a Rights of Nature approach could be fruitful include:

  • Saint Vrain Creek in Lyons
  • Clear Creek in Golden
  • South Platte River in Denver
  • Yampa River in Steamboat Springs
  • Blue River in Breckenridge
  • Eagle River in Eagle and Vail
  • Arkansas River in Buena Vista and Salida
  • Las Animas River in Durango
  • San Miguel River in Telluride
  • Roaring Fork River in Aspen

Save The Colorado and Earth Law Center are developing a “Rights of Nature” toolbox to assist local people and communities that includes:

  • examples of ordinances that have been successful in the U.S. and around the world,
  • connections to other local groups in the U.S. that have organized around the ordinances,
  • legal consulting advice for wording of ordinances and legal ramifications,
  • consulting advice for organizing strategies.

“The Rights of Nature movement is accelerating across the planet, and in the U.S., as communities work to empower themselves to protect their local environment and rivers from corporate and investor profiteering,” said Wockner.

The most recent passage of Rights of Nature for a river occurred in Nov. 2020 election. Known as the “Wekiva River and Econlockhatchee River Bill of Rights”, the ordinance passed with 89% of the vote in Orange County, Florida, whose county seat is Orlando (see Orlando Sentinel story here). Save The Colorado’s Rights of Nature program will also follow the lead of the Yurok Tribe’s work giving Rights of Nature to the Klamath River (see High Country News story here), and the Nez Perce Tribe’s work giving Rights of Nature to the Snake River (see Lewiston Tribune story here).

“We encourage anyone to contact us who is interested in establishing a Rights of Nature program on a local river or creek in Colorado,” said Wockner. “Send an email to: info@savethecolorado.org.”

This press release is posted here.

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