Last summer (2012), a group of researchers from the Colorado College State of the Rockies project came through Grand Junction on their six-and-a-half week journey from an alpine tarn called Lake Powell in Rocky Mountain National Park to the big, famous Lake Powell that backs up behind Glen Canyon Dam.
Kayaking most of the way, the group made numerous stops to collect water samples and interviews, including several with folks in the Grand Valley. The stated goal of the project was to "make the voices of various stakeholders and 'river experts' heard, as well as providing a virtual tour of the Colorado River through narratives, photographs, videos, and scientific research."
Now, the stories and images the group collected are about to be made available on the internet in a series of 5-6-minute short films. Judging by the trailer, they have fantastic footage of the river (with some serious kayaking skills on show) and interviews with people expressing a wide range of perspectives, including longtime Grand County residents, a Denver Water official, environmental advocates, and Grand Valley farmers.
The films can be accessed via the website http://downthecolorado.org/
Here is the release schedule:
• Already available: Series trailer.
• Feb. 4: "Complicating the Divide," which discusses diversions of Colorado River water to Front Range and their impacts on the headwaters region.
• Feb. 11: "Profit and Play," which explores recreation.
• Feb. 18: "The Desert Blooms," which looks at energy development and agriculture.
• Feb. 25: "Confluence," which ponders solutions to the Colorado's numerous problems.
• March 4: "A New Way Downstream," which shows the group's solar-powered trip across Lake Powell.
The research/adventure team brought diverse disciplinary perspectives to the project. The team consisted of 2011 Colorado College graduates Will Stauffer-Norris, an environmental science major raised in Blacksburg, Va.; Zak Podmore, a philosophy major from Glenwood Springs; David Spiegel, a native of Woodinville, Wash., who got his degree in international political economy; and Carson McMurray, an environmental science major from Chapel Hill, N.C.
The summer 2012 journey was a follow-up trip to a winter 2011-12 expedition by Will and Zak from the headwaters of the Green all the way to the remains of the river's delta in Mexico. They captured the story of this trip in a 45-minute film titled "Remains of a River," which is also available on the "Down the Colorado" website.
The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University hosted a showing of this film in Grand Junction as the team was traveling through the Grand Valley over the summer.
This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter.
Hannah Holm is coordinator of the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University.