VALLEY COURIER 11-16-18 SLV Water Education Takes Flight

Nov 16, 2018

ALAMOSA — Students from colleges and universities across Colorado were presented with a new perspective on water issues in the Rio Grande Basin on Wednesday. Thanks to the Flight Across America Program sponsored by EcoFlights and the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University, participants learned about the challenges that San Luis Valley faces when it comes to water.

Based out of Aspen, EcoFlights and the Flights Across America Program provide college students who are interested in water and conservation with the opportunity to participate in a three-day learning experience. This immersive program includes a combination of flights in small aircraft and on the ground education. As a result, students gain a broader perspective and a better understanding of the complex landscapes and water issues. The program is also designed to engage students in critical thinking as they explore and learn about the issues.

As part of the 2018 tour, Flights Across America made a stop in Alamosa. The group consisted of members of the EcoFlights team including Founder and Chief Pilot Bruce Gordon and Conservation Director Jane Pargiter along with approximately 10-15 students from Colorado State University, Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University, Western State Colorado University and Adams State University.

At the San Luis Valley Regional Airport the group got to hear a brief presentation on the Rio Grande Basin from local water experts. The presenters included Rio de la Vista of the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, Cleave Simpson of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, Daniel Boyes of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, and Eugene Jaquez from the San Luis area acequia community. There was a notable trend in each of the presenter’s remarks regarding the importance of agriculture to the San Luis Valley and the unique water system that the basin has. It was new and informative information for many in the group.


Following the presentation and some time for questions, some of the group had the opportunity to take a quick flight over the portion of the Rio Grande that stretches from Alamosa to Del Norte. All who participated in the event found it to very insightful. The hope is to bring more experiences such as this to the Rio Grande Basin.

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Cleave Simpson explains the role of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District to the group.