April 2, 2008--Grassroots river protection (Durango Telegraph)

As pressures mount on the West’s river basins, a local effort to navigate the tricky waters between protection and development has been launched. The San Juan Citizens Alliance and the Southwestern Water Conservation District are heading up the River Protection Workgroup, a series of community meetings meant to help reconcile protection of the San Juan Basin’s more important drainages while allowing for continued water development. “We were approached by the San Juan Citizens Alliance to see if we cold work on a grassroots effort,” said Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the Southwest Water Conservation District. “The board agreed to sit down and talk with the intent to look at alternatives to providing protection while still allowing water development to take place.” Over the course of the next five years, the workgroup will take a look at six local drainages: Hermosa Creek; San Juan River - East and West Forks; portions of the Upper Animas River; Piedra River - Middle and East Forks; the Pine River; and Vallecito Creek. The process will kick off with the Hermosa Creek Workgroup on April 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. For each drainage, 10 to 12 follow-up meetings will be held over the course of a year.

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