Proposed Wild & Scenic River

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Proposed Wild & Scenic River

Date: 02/10/2023     State: CO     Issue: Watersheds     Partner: Wilderness Workshop Airport Origin : Aspen, CO    


Aerially educate Roaring Fork Valley stakeholders on the efforts to protect one of Colorado's last undammed waterways. The Crystal River stakeholder process is beginning; this is a time to discuss our shared vision for the future of the river.

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 and organizations has come together to advocate for protection of the Crystal River. They have a goal of procuring a Wild & Scenic River designation over the upper parts of the Crystal. This will ensure the river remains unobstructed by new dams or out-of-basin diversions, 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 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. As support for protecting the Crystal River continues to grow, the town of Marble, Gunnison and Pitkin Counties, and the River District are convening a community engagement and stakeholder process in early 2023. This is an important step toward identifying shared community vision and goals for the Crystal River.

Photo Credit: Whitton Feer

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