The Crystal River watershed provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as water essential for both local agricultural and municipal uses. The river system is home to cutthroat trout, Bald Eagles, Lewis’s Woodpeckers and rare plant species, and draws anglers, kayakers and sightseers from around the world. Because of the free-flowing river’s scenic, historic and recreational values, the U.S. Forest Service has found the upper Crystal River eligible for federal Wild and Scenic River designation. Interest in protecting the watershed and its consumptive and non-consumptive water uses has recently grown due to a variety of factors, including the addition of the Crystal River to America’s ‘Most Endangered Rivers’ list (by American Rivers in 2012), work being conducted on the Colorado Water Plan, and recent drought conditions.
In 2013, Roaring Fork Conservancy and Public Counsel of the Rockies, working with Lotic Hydrological, LLC, met with local water users and water rights holders throughout the watershed to listen to their concerns and solicit their ideas on ways to enhance riparian and instream conditions in and along the Crystal River. The plan we are proposing for Creating a Road Map for Crystal River Recovery has been developed on the basis of that input. It responds to specific needs articulated by stakeholders in the Crystal River watershed and is premised upon all stakeholders playing an active role in the future. This is the first of several newsletters, meetings and discussions that we hope will keep you informed and engaged. We need and look forward to your participation!