Guest opinion: River plan gives power to the paddlers |

Guest opinion: River plan gives power to the paddlers

Annie Henderson
Staff Photo |

It’s a good summer for paddlers on the Upper Colorado River, and we’re not just talking about the rains of Colorado’s Miracle May.

We’re celebrating the fact that paddlers now have a say in the management of the Colorado, under the new Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan. After eight long years of work, the management plan for the Upper Colorado has been adopted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

This is a major victory for us as local paddlers, because it guarantees a process that is more inclusive, transparent and multifaceted for years to come, and will hopefully ensure healthy rivers and a healthy recreation economy for the Western Slope.

As recreation enthusiasts, we have a responsibility to protect the very resource upon which we depend. Paddlers have a unique comprehension of and passion and intimacy for the river, which very much qualifies us to be strong participants in the political process that dictates our future as it relates to resource management and use. We’re sure that as advocates for the vibrant recreation economy of our region, having a formal role in the decisions that guide flows in the Colorado River will be a value add for years to come.

Thanks to the leadership of American Whitewater in particular, the voices of local paddlers are empowered in a whole new conversation about flow management. Both the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association and American Whitewater are members of the Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Stakeholders group and represent the private recreation population. With such representation, paddlers will now have a direct avenue to comment in regards to river flows and management. For the first time ever, recreation is as qualified in the process as any other stakeholder, including municipal uses, agriculture and conservation.

It has not been an easy road, but as we enter this new era of collaboration and cooperative management of flows to sustain recreation, we’re more determined than ever to protect and enjoy our rivers.

We’ll be celebrating at our Launch Party on Aug. 15 with a community float on the Colorado followed by food, libations and Q&A with both the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association and American Whitewater. Launch from Shoshone at 10 a.m. Please contact for more details.

Annie Henderson leads the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association in Glenwood Springs.

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