By Al Pfister
Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership
For the past three years, the Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership (WEP) has been working under the Colorado Water Plan to develop a Stream Management Plan (now referred to as an Integrated Watershed Management Plan or IWMP) for the Upper San Juan, Blanco and Navajo River watersheds.
The past three years of efforts have emphasized identifying the environmental, recreational and agricultural infrastructure needs of these three watersheds and what enhancements in the watersheds might be made. This has been accomplished via field data gathering, interviews and surveys with different user groups, stakeholders and landowners, under the guidance of a steering committee representative of the agricultural, environmental, municipal and recreational water interests of the community.
The development of our local water plan includes exploring project opportunities that support river health and our community’s ability to rely on rivers for multiple uses, now and in the future. This planning effort accounts for projections of potentially warmer and drier future in this region and a need to prioritize projects and strategies that can allow our communities to maintain, or adapt, activities with less water.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the WEP invites all to collectively review, discuss and start prioritizing project ideas in the upper San Juan, Blanco and Navajo watersheds. We want community members and visitors to learn about and provide input on the issues and needs, and projects that have been identified thus far.
For example, several projects have already been identified by or shared with WEP with the potential to enhance the health of the river, recreational opportunities and the efficiency of irrigation infrastructure. We need the community’s input on these consolidated identified issues, needs and projects to assist us in ensuring this local community-driven effort has an accurate assessment of our watershed conditions. Details on how to join our Zoom virtual meeting can be found at: http://www.mountainstudies.org/sanjuan/smp.
At the same website (http://www.mountainstudies.org/sanjuan/smp), we strongly encourage all to take one or all three of WEP’s watershed surveys (upper San Juan, Blanco and Navajo watersheds). These surveys are an opportunity to share your opinions and project ideas, including options to mark on maps specific areas or locations you are concerned about or want to suggest an improvement project.
As part of the third and final phase of our IWMP planning process, we will use community input from the public meeting, as well as the survey information, to develop a final plan with prioritized projects by summer of 2022.
If you would like to learn more about the WEP and the details of our planning process, visit www.mountainstudies.org/sanjuan/smp and contact Al Pfister (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mandy Eskelson (email@example.com).