Crystal River – Wild & Scenic
EcoFlight is part of a group of organizations and local citizens that have come together to advocate for protection of the Crystal River. We flew with local members of the press to increase public awareness about threats and efforts to protect the Crystal. The coalition is seeking a Wild & Scenic River designation over the upper parts of the Crystal to ensure the river remains unobstructed by new dams or out-of-basin diversions, retaining its free-flowing nature.
The Crystal River has withstood the test of time to become one of Colorado’s last untamed natural wonders. The river flows for forty miles from its headwaters in the Elk Mountains to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River in Carbondale.
In 2012 the Crystal River received the unfortunate nomination from American Rivers as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. Protection of the Crystal is crucial to preserve the many natural values of the river. The Crystal's braided channels support vital riparian and wetland habitat. The river is home to wildlife like deer, elk, bears, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and cutthroat trout. Beyond ecosystem values, the Crystal boasts amazing recreational opportunities like kayaking and fishing. The river also provides drinking water for 7,000 people and is crucial to the region's rich ranching and agricultural heritage. Both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service have recognized the importance of the area, deeming the Crystal River eligible for Wild & Scenic protection. The coalition is pursuing this designation to maintain the Crystal River's natural beauty, environmental services, and recreational opportunities, as well as the Valley's water source.