Crystal River

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Crystal River

Date: 05/05/2023     State: CO     Airport Origin : Aspen, CO    


Fly local town and county officials to show the beauty of this river and advocate for the protection of the Crystal River in the Roaring Fork Valley.

A collective appreciation for this watershed and all that it provides is a unifying force. The Crystal supports local, sustainable agriculture, and generational family ranches. Recreational opportunities abound: fly fishing, rock climbing, wilderness backpacking, four-wheeling and snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, and more. The watershed also remains a haven for wildlife, with critical summer and winter habitat. Some of Colorado’s most popular hunting units are adjacent to the Crystal River, bringing tangible economic benefits to the valley each year. The Crystal Valley provides a peaceful haven for residents and visitors alike.

The Crystal is so spectacular in part because it is one of the last rivers in Colorado that is not dammed or diverted to out-of-basin water users. However, it remains unprotected from water developers, and dams have been proposed here before. In 2011, two reservoirs – standing 280 ft. tall with hydropower facilities and 1,000cfs of throughput capacity - were proposed, which together would hold twice the volume of Ruedi Reservoir. Named Placita and Osgood, they would have inundated much of the Crystal Valley - including Redstone - cut off a contiguous ecosystem, flooded homes and businesses, and diminished a thriving local economy. Those proposals have since been defeated, but as the demand for water in the West continues to grow, the Crystal could remain a target for water developers. You can read more about the history of threats to the Crystal on the Wild & Scenic Coalition’s page, and in local news from the time including Aspen Journalism’ History of the West Divide Project.  

Recognizing the ecological and community importance of the Crystal, in April 2023, a public meeting at the Marble Fire Station kicked off a facilitated stakeholder process that will consider ways to protect the Crystal, including the feasibility of a federal Wild and Scenic River designation. Wild and Scenic is a durable federal protection that specifically prohibits dams and out-of-basin diversions, while remaining flexible to community input. Designation neither gives nor implies government control of private lands within the river corridor, nor does it impede public access. The stakeholder process will be an opportunity to explore this option for protection, address community questions, and ensure that any decision made for the future of the Crystal River fits the long-term needs of this community and has strong local support.

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