San Luis Valley Water: A Community in Action

April is Earth Month, a time when we reflect on the impact we have on our planet and what that means for its future. In the San Luis Valley, April also marks the beginning of the irrigation season, bringing water to the forefront of our community's consciousness. Here in this high desert, the importance of water and wetlands extends far beyond their role as a haven for the beloved sandhill cranes; they are vital for all valley residents, encompassing the plant, animal, and human populations that call this place home. With the future of the SLV and its precious water resources in mind, a number of dedicated organizations are working tirelessly to ensure a bright and sustainable tomorrow. Here are some of these groups and how their efforts contribute to the conservation and restoration of our natural treasures.

Restoration Efforts: Reviving the Natural Flow

A consortium of groups including the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited lead the charge in revitalization efforts across the Valley. These efforts are bolstered by the support of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service, among others. Together, they undertake significant projects along the Rio Grande and its tributaries across the Valley, focusing on wetlands restoration and watershed-wide initiatives to enhance the ecological health of the area.

Conservation: Safeguarding the Valley's Future

The conservation landscape in the San Luis Valley is equally vibrant, with organizations like the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust and partners such as Colorado Open Lands, Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust, and others, working tirelessly to conserve land and water. These groups place a strong emphasis on sustaining the Valley's working ranches and farms, which are integral to the local economy and ecological balance. Their efforts ensure the protection of open space, river and stream corridors, wetlands, and the vital water rights that support them.

Community Planning and Education: Cultivating Stewardship

The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable exemplifies the community's commitment to comprehensive water management and education. Through the Rio Grande Basin Implementation Plan, part of the larger Colorado Water Plan, the Roundtable facilitates project design, funding, and a broad array of educational programs aimed at fostering stewardship among Valley residents and beyond.

For those looking to deepen their understanding of water issues or to get involved in local conservation education, the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative (RGWCEI) and the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University offer resources and programs designed to engage and inform.

Joining Forces for the San Luis Valley

The collective efforts of these organizations highlight the importance of collaboration in the face of environmental challenges. By supporting restoration, engaging in conservation, and participating in educational initiatives, each of us can play a part in safeguarding the water and wetlands of the San Luis Valley for future generations.