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Public Lands

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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

Instream Water Rights v. Recreational Water Rights

Instream flow water rights allow water to stay in the stream channel ‘to preserve or improve the natural environment to a reasonable degree.’ Instream flow water rights can only be held by a state agency, the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In 2003, the state passed legislation allowing water right holders, to loan water to the CWCB for instream flows, in times of drought. The state's instream flow water rights often amount to no more than 10-15 cubic feet per second. More than 8,500 miles of stream throughout the state have been protected by this program.

Recreational in-channel diversion water rights allow water to stay in the stream channel to be controlled by structures that create specific recreational features for rafting and kayaking, for example. These water rights can only be obtained by cities, counties, and water districts. This newly created type of water right, by statute, allows only the minimum amount of water necessary for a ‘reasonable recreational experience.’ The Colorado Water Conservation Board is required to make findings and recommendations to the regional water courts regarding all applications for these water rights. Recreational water rights are generally requested only for the summer months (May-September), and may demand variable flows ranging from 50 to 1,800 cfs or more.

CWCB Review

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is required to make recommendations to the water court regarding all applications for these water rights. By statute, CWCB reviews must consider five main areas:

• Whether the water right will impair Colorado's ability to pursue use of water allotted to it under interstate agreements;
• Appropriateness of the stream reach for the requested use (e.g., whitewater park);
• Access availability;
• Whether exercise of this recreational water right will injure other instream flow rights in the river;
• Whether the requested water right promotes maximum use of the state's waters.

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