Issues: Student Education, Watersheds, Wild Lands, Wildlife
Partners: American Rivers, American Whitewater, Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Wilderness Workshop
Airport Origin : Aspen, CO
Fly public officials, conservation partners, media, and concerned local citizens, as well as students from the Buddy Program over the Crystal River to advocate for a Wild & Scenic River designation.
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. A group of local citizens, the Roaring Fork Conservancy, and many other organizations have come together to advocate for the protection of the Crystal River. The group has formed a coalition with the goal of procuring a Wild & Scenic River designation over the upper 39 miles of the Crystal. This would ensure the river remains unobstructed by dams and diversion, retaining its free-flowing nature.
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 preserve the regions 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.