Conservation Organizations Emphasize Must Shield Environmental Priorities in Colorado River Basin
Denver—A number of conservation organizations at the moment urge Colorado River Basin decision-makers to guard important environmental priorities as they wrestle with Basin administration choices being remodeled the following a number of months. The teams warn that ignoring these priorities dangers additional harm to the Basin’s atmosphere and pure heritage, the muse of the enduring Colorado River system.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is pursuing a supplemental Environmental Impression Assertion (SEIS) course of to guage the necessity to partially modify working standards for major Colorado River reservoirs given excessive drought circumstances and traditionally low reservoir ranges at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
Whereas the teams are inspired to see six of the Basin states put ahead a “consensus based mostly modeling different” for Reclamation to think about within the SEIS course of, the teams search to make sure that important environmental issues are thought of in any operational actions that Reclamation fashions and evaluates.
Because the Colorado River neighborhood considers operational adjustments, seven conservation organizations establish 5 (5) environmental priorities which can be most straight linked to or implicated by the SEIS course of, which is predicted to be accomplished in the summertime of 2023:
- Investing federal funds in watershed well being, long run resilience, and agricultural innovation within the Higher Basin tributaries with excessive fish and wildlife and leisure worth;
- Preserving the Endangered Fish Restoration Packages within the Higher Basin and the Decrease Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program;
- Safeguarding the integrity of the Grand Canyon ecosystem and leisure values;
- Restoring wetlands on the Salton Sea to reduce poisonous mud and profit fowl habitat alongside the Pacific Flyway;
- Forestalling the loss and persevering with restoration of the Colorado River Delta.
“We spotlight these specific priorities as a result of, for the Colorado River neighborhood, they’re carefully tied to the continued integrity of the Colorado River Basin and are doubtlessly most affected by the present SEIS course of,” mentioned Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Program Director for Nationwide Audubon Society. “Within the face of a warmer, drier local weather, the Colorado River—and the entire residing issues relying on it—require that we keep centered on these priorities.”
“No matter choices Reclamation in the end considers as a part of the SEIS course of, these environmental priorities can’t be misplaced within the combine or sacrificed within the identify of a disaster, or we danger making all the scenario worse,” mentioned Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
“These and associated priorities are important to the continued sustainability of the Colorado River system. Failing to think about them when making basin administration choices would undermine the ecological well being of the Colorado River Basin, including extra potential for controversy in a Basin that should transfer ahead—urgently—with consensus efforts to cut back water demand and restore the well being of the watershed,” mentioned Sara Porterfield, western water coverage advisor for Trout Limitless.
“Our teams have labored exhausting over the past decade to search out environmental options that additionally profit water customers. We wish to guarantee these hard-won options and advantages aren’t sacrificed due to interstate disputes over water allocations,” mentioned Taylor Hawes, director of the Colorado River Program at The Nature Conservancy. “We all know the Basin’s stakeholders are going through troublesome choices with dropping reservoir ranges, drier soils, hotter temperatures, and that changes are wanted now to cope with these points in each the Higher and Decrease Basins. However, we don’t wish to lose sight of the dangers to the extraordinary pure heritage of the Colorado River,” Hawes added.
“We stand able to work with Basin states, Tribes, water customers, and the federal authorities to make sure that the SEIS course of is sufficiently clear, environment friendly, and complete,” mentioned Kevin Moran, affiliate vice chairman of regional affairs for Environmental Protection Fund.