Do we really need another watershed group in Grand County? | SkyHiNews.com

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Do we really need another watershed group in Grand County?

Mark Volt from Kremmling asks: Do we really need another watershed group in Grand County?

That's a great question Mark. In fact, there's a lot of great work going on that benefits our Upper Colorado River headwaters. Federal and state agencies are managing forest and range lands with clear goals of sustainability and resilience. Towns and water districts are working to protect source waters, conservation groups are helping landowners better manage land and water resources while protecting property values, and there's certainly plenty of guidance out there for large and small projects.

But these efforts are not yet coordinated with a watershed perspective, and experience worldwide shows that communities with active watershed groups are more effective protecting waterways and better able to respond to natural disasters such as drought, wildfire, and flooding.

So, responding to Presidential Directives, the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are tasked with collaborating with communities in the Western US to develop watershed plans emphasizing resiliency and sustainable water resource management. The USBR program is called Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow (WaterSMART), which complements the more familiar NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

WaterSMART communities are given wide leeway to develop their own watershed plans reflecting local values and conditions. Again, experience shows that grass-roots, community-based efforts are more viable than top-down prescriptive measures. Watershed "best practices" guidelines are readily available for most any natural resource activity, and there's plenty of local experience here in our headwaters. The WaterSMART-funded Upper Colorado River Watershed Group (UCRWG) aims to promote local efforts where we can, with that broad watershed perspective, to help folks get the most from their efforts.

You can learn more about UCRWG watershed planning on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mountain Parks Electric Community Room. We'll have coffee and snacks, families welcome. Learn more at http://www.ucrwg.org and follow us on Facebook @UCRWG.