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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

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Water Education Colorado

Supreme Court Decision Will Shape the Future of Colorado’s Whitewater Parks

DENVER—The Colorado State Supreme Court heard arguments Dec. 6 in a case that could determine the minimum amount of water necessary for a “reasonable recreational experience” at Colorado’s many whitewater parks and kayaking courses.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board and the state engineer’s office, Colorado’s water law enforcer, are fighting a 2003 water court ruling that sided with the Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District and its application for a whitewater course downstream of the City of Gunnison. The CWCB and the state engineer’s office opposed the amount of water requested by the Gunnison district, claiming it exceeded the state-mandated “minimum” flow necessary for a “reasonable recreational experience.”

Under a state statute, the CWCB reviews applications for recreational in-channel diversions and makes factual findings and recommendations to the water court. The Supreme Court will decide whether the water court’s judgment or the CWCB’s recommendation should prevail.

The water court in its 2003 decision rejected arguments that Gunnison’s recreational in-channel diversion request, which asked for more water than the board’s recommendation, was too high. The Supreme Court will also decide whether the water court was wrong when it said that limitations on the amount of recreational instream water rights infringe on the state constitution.

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