While the 2001 Study summarized the current conditions of the river and riparian area, identified causes of the decline in river health, and provided recommendations for restoration. The only component lacking the Study was a detailed strategy to implement the recommendations.
The Foundation sought funding to develop a Rio Grande Watershed Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan) to propose structural and non-structural strategic measures to restore, protect, and maintain the river corridor throughout the 200 miles of the Rio Grande in Colorado and its major tributaries. Funding for the Strategic Plan was provided by EPA 319 Funds, the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund, and Severance Taxes administered by the CWCB.
The Strategic Plan was created as a roadmap for the various partners to achieve their combined vision of the Rio Grande in Colorado.
I. Water Quality
Maintain or improve stream water quality on the Rio Grande and its tributaries to protect beneficial uses designated by the State of Colorado as appropriate for each stream reach.
Time stream flows on the mainstem of the Rio Grande to more closely mimic a natuaral hydrograph while meeting the obligations of the Rio Grande Compact. This should help support the health of fisheries, aquatic species, and wildlife habitat, including to support endangered species.
III. Diversion Structures
Improve the function and reliability of diversion structures to improve irrigation water deliveries with consideration for riparian health, fisheries, and recreational opportunities.
Protect the channel and 100-year floodplain from flood damage, such that existing structures are protected and all new development and redevelopment is constructed to avoid adverse impacts to 100-year floodplain functions and values.
Maintain or enhance river function to support recreational opportunities associated with the Rio Grande and its tributaries, for the benefit of local businesses, residents, and tourists.
Complement efforts of public agencies and community watershed groups that support the objectives of the Strategic Plan.
Seek funding sources from state and federal agencies, nonprofit and community organizations, businesses, and individuals to implement the priority projects.
As part of the Strategic Plan, Priority Projects were identified. These were defined as projects that should be implemented by 2012 because either: (1) they address critical problem in the Rio Grande watershed or (2) there is a current window of opportunity that greatly increases the liklehood of success.
2012 Priority Projects:
A. Implement a water quality data collection and management program to document baseline water quality conditions on both the mainstem and South Fork of the Rio Grande.
B. Support the implementation of in-mine remediation and/or water treatment plant to reduce metal loads from the Nelson Tunnel on Willow Creek.
C. Encourage a dialog with private property owners, especially upstream of South Fork, regarding river function and its improvement.
D. Promote Ditch company/irrigation district supervisor forum through which irrigation-related projects could be advanced.
E. Support efforts by local governments to secure funding for the necessary updating of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain maps. Establish floodplain development design standards in conjunction with county land use adminstrations.
F.Assist NRCS in continuing its riparian stabilization program and help with project monitoring. Seek alternative and adaptive riparian stabilization techniques and methods.
G. Organize one public outreach program per year to improve local awareness of river values.
H. Support the activities of the RGNA Commission.
I. Support cooperative efforts for groundwater management in the San Luis Valley.
J. Convene annual or semiannual meetings of governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerned witht he health of the Rio Grande ecosystem for the purpose of exchanging ideas and facilitating cooperation.
K. Continue to seek opportunities to implement the findings of the Strategic Plan and the 2001 Study.
Rio Grande Watershed Restoration Strategic Plan Newsletter (Summary Document)
Rio Grande Watershed Restoration Strategic Plan (Complete Document)