Your Watershed: How do you enjoy the river? | PostIndependent.com

Your Watershed: How do you enjoy the river?

Annie Whetzel

I moved to Garfield County two years ago, and this is the first summer I floated on one of our rivers. After participating in river clean-ups, revegetation efforts, monitoring quality and appreciating the water from afar, I finally experienced what “go with the flow” means. Since my maiden voyage I have been out at least once a week. I am hooked.

I am not one to race down rapids, nor am I a fisherman, so you might ask, what do I do on the river? I simply enjoy it. I love the sound of the riffles, the steep rise of the bank from the river, the icy cold water, and the hot blanket of the sun. It is fantastic, and makes me even more motivated to protect this amazing resource.

A few days ago, I asked the Middle Colorado Watershed Council’s board members and some volunteers how they enjoy the beautiful watershed we live in.

The most common response this holiday weekend was, “I am out of the office and on the river,” as I received from Carmia Wooley, a partner of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council and Physical Scientist for the Bureau of Land Management based out of Silt.

Angie Fowler, a Middle Colorado Watershed Board member and Water Services Sector leader for SGM, mentioned that she finds most of her water time is “spent running along trails that follow the river corridors in our valley.” I have to echo that. Because I am new to rafting, hiking is really the most common way I spend my time on the river.

The first time I floated the Roaring Fork, it was early June. The river was raging. The Roaring Fork was flowing at 6000 cubic feet per second and building. The Colorado River at Glenwood Springs, where the Roaring Fork joins it was about 22,000 cfs. All of this, and we hadn’t quite hit peak yet.

As I write this, it is the July 4 weekend, and we are all wondering where the water went. I was going to go out on the river again this week, but at just under 2000 cfs, it is a completely new river. Manageable in a boat, still fun and still refreshing, but different nonetheless.

Cfs is how river flows are measured. The more water is rushing past a specific point, the higher the cfs number will be. As of July 5, the flow of the Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs was at 2200 cfs, and the Colorado River at Glenwood Springs was flowing at 5260 cfs. The median for the past 50 years in that area has been 6620 cfs. So, despite our heavy snow this year, we are falling just behind the average over the past 50 years.

While this is not cause for immediate concern, water conservation should be in our conversations over the next few weeks as summer temperatures rise, and we stare into the endlessly blue skies. (Hopefully by press time we will be dancing in the summer monsoons.)

Along with the conversations about conservation, there are other ways to help the river, starting with local river clean-ups and river festivals.

The Glenwood Springs River Commission is hosting River Fest on Aug. 5. Participation in this event is a great step toward showing the river, and your community, that you care about the water you depend on.

The daylong event starts with a river clean-up in the morning, followed with lunch and music in Two Rivers Park at noon. The afternoon holds a boat race and floatilla at 1:30 p.m. (boats and floatation devices are required, and not provided.)

For more information about River Fest, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/Riverfestlink.

If you would like to volunteer for the River Fest river clean-up and join a specific team, join the Middle Colorado Watershed Council! Contact us at info@midcowatershed.org by July 28th for a spot with us on August 5th.

If we don’t see you at the festival, we look forward to seeing you out on the river whether it is hiking, fishing, rafting, or just enjoying time near the river.

Annie Whetzel is the Community Outreach Coordinator at The Middle Colorado Watershed Council. To learn more about the MCWC, go to http://http://www.midcowatershed.org. You can also find them on Facebook at http://facebook.com/midcowatershed.


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