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Public Lands

HW Winter2018 FINAL2cover

Colorado's public lands are faced with new challenges but water and land management depend on working together. Read about the relationship between water and land in Colorado and how Coloradans are converging to restore Colorado's public lands in the Spring 2018 issue of Headwaters magazine.

Browse articles and find a flipbook of the magazine here.

Connecting the Drops

connectingdropslogo4.1Bringing you the reporting you crave over the radio airways with extras and archives on our website. Visit the audio archives or listen to the latest story on the connection between Colorado's forests, watersheds, and forest fires:

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Water Education Colorado

Watermarks--Letter from the Director

A new study recently published in the journal Science estimates that taxpayers and foundations have spent more than $1 billion annually on river restoration in the United States since 1990. These figures were compiled by the National River Restoration Science Synthesis (NRRSS) Project which for the last several years has systematically catalogued all the river restoration projects in the U.S.

Unsure of the scope of what they would find, researchers have now created a detailed list of 37,099 river restoration projects around the nation. Most restoration efforts are small and involve less than a mile of stream. Others are massive and much more expensive, often costing as much as $1 million per river mile.

The study also highlighted concerns regarding how we measure the success or failure of these projects. They underlined the need for people in the river restoration business to talk to each other, learn from each other's mistakes, and help avoid costly missteps and failures. An additional pitfall they identified was the lack of follow-up monitoring for individual projects, allowing for little or no evaluation of whether a restoration project is actually making a better river.

To that end, lead scientist Dr. Emily Bernhardt is encouraging government agencies and foundations who fund these projects to dedicate additional monies for monitoring and review. Unless long-term monitoring can document issues such as flood stability, new plant growth or erosion control, there is little way to tell whether these costly projects are actually improving the functionality of the stream over the long-term.

Humans have a difficult time treading lightly on the landscape, and now, after 100 years of diversion and manipulation, it is not surprising that some rivers are in desperate need of a helping hand.

The NRRSS project found that river restoration around the nation boomed in the 1990s. Colorado has clearly been part of that. As we diversify our economy and worry about sustainability, renewable rivers are ones that can meet the additional stresses of the future and survive. In the coming decades, as we figure out how to store more water, conserve and become more efficient, a well-maintained river seems as good a business practice as a tidy shop or well-manicured yard. If you want to keep it working for you, you have to maintain it.

Karla Brown, Editor

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