Adrian Bergere, Program Coordinator
At its heart, the free-flowing San Miguel River extends for 80 miles from high-alpine headwaters above Telluride, Ophir and Trout Lake through scenic canyons to a desert confluence with
the Dolores River in red rock country near the Utah border. The San Miguel is one of the few remaining ecologically and hydrologically intact river systems in Colorado. The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management manage a majority of the land in the watershed, and within its boundaries are the towns of Nucla, Naturita, Norwood, Telluride, Mountain Village, Ophir, Placerville and Sawpit.
Historically, the area’s economy has been based on mining, ranching, logging, power production and agricultural activities. More recently, there has been significant residential and commercial development in the upper basin because of the Telluride Ski Resort, summer festivals, and recreational activities. Roughly 6,000 people live and work in the watershed with many more commuting into the area daily for employment and enjoyment.
The San Miguel Basin is changing. The upper basin shift to a resort economy, coupled with a decline of traditional industries, has altered social and economic patterns. Residents are concerned about a host of environmental issues, such as decreasing water supplies, degrading riparian communities, the spread of noxious weeds, impacts to water quality, and unstable river channels. Basin communities are challenged with finding ways to enhance their long-term economic and cultural interests while preserving the environment.
The San Miguel Watershed Coalition’s purpose is to give the communities and stakeholders in the watershed a voice to direct the future management of watershed resources.
The San Miguel Watershed Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, managed by an 8-person board. The Board of Directors is tasked with executing the projects and priorities determined by the Stakeholder Committee. The San Miguel Watershed Coalition was formed in 1998 to enable a collaborative forum for all stakeholders to discuss and influence the future of the watershed. Currently, the Board of Directors consists of the following members:
The San Miguel Watershed Coalition is governed by a 25-person Stakeholder Committee. The Committee was formed in 2017 in order to provide an opportunity for all watershed communities and interests to have a voice in the future of the San Miguel Watershed Coalition. The group meets biannually to discuss and vote on SMWC’s projects and priorities. Currently, the Stakeholder Committee consists of the following members: