Message from Board President and Executive Director
The year 2019 was one of rejuvenation and celebration in the mountains, rivers and streams of the Roaring Fork Watershed. Following a record drought year in 2018 the winter of 2018/2019 was really winter, with abundant snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures enduring for weeks. The freeze/thaw cycle in late December and early January was active and ice jam releases were dramatic and frequent on the Roaring Fork River. On January 4, two separate ice jam releases roared through Basalt. The Fork surged and increased for a short time by nearly 700% (from approximately 200cfs to 1,400cfs) as a torrent of ice, wood and debris filled the river channel. The community rallied around this incredible natural occurrence, lining the bridges and high banks to watch the ice roll through. Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC) rallied around the science, education and safety concerns with ice jam releases. In collaboration with local emergency management agencies and the National Weather Service, a system was developed to predict releases, inform the public and send text and email alerts when ice jam releases were expected. One week later, a group of anglers reported receiving a text alert and exiting the river safely prior to an ice jam release.
Winter held on; the snow kept coming. Skiing was phenomenal, persisting well beyond expectation and the season extended into June. Avalanches let loose throughout the Western slope in record numbers, several of which closed mountain highways for days and even weeks. The much-anticipated runoff arrived a few weeks later than expected but lasted for many weeks. The river was full, the Lake Christine burn scar and surrounding landscape was as green as Ireland, and water was abundant. Big whitewater was celebrated by boaters into the summer, and by mid-summer floating and fishing was as good as ever. The watershed rebounded robustly in this time of plenty and the river demonstrated its resilience.
The river’s resilience and longevity no longer occur by chance, solely based on natural phenomenon and cycles. The endurance of the river requires a community who is vigilant - watching, listening, and acting with the river in mind.
In time, we hope RFC will continue to show the same resilience and longevity as the river. As we enter our third decade firmly established in The River Center, we continue to be the voice for the river and an asset to the community by continuing our outstanding educational programs, growing our science and policy work, and steadily monitoring the health of our rivers year in and year out. We’re here to stay – and we hope you are too.
Your ongoing support and engagement make all our work possible.
Pat McMahon, Board of Directors President & Rick Lofaro, Executive Director