The Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP) was formed as a response to a study completed in 2001 on the Rio Grande. The 2001 Study was prompted by local stakeholders due to a realized deterioration of the historical functions of the Rio Grande, which included the provision of high quality water, healthy riparian areas, fish and wildlife habitat, and a functioning floodplain. The 2001 Study analyzed the condition of the riparian area and structures along a 91-mile reach of the Rio Grande and provided recommendations for improvement. The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District sponsored the 2001 Study and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) acted as the Study's funder, with a $250,000 grant. In 2004 the need was identified for a well-defined Rio Grande Watershed Restoration Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan). Completed in 2007, the Strategic Plan highlighted the importance of continued efforts to implement the recommendations from the 2001 Study. Since establishment, the RGHRP has accrued a successful record of performing projects on the Rio Grande through collaboration with landowners and local, state, and federal entities.
The Rio Grande watershed in Colorado covers 8,200 square miles. The Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project area includes the 200 miles of the Rio Grande Corridor in Colorado, including all of the tributaries of the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande enters the San Luis Valley, the largest intermountain basin in Colorado, at the town of South Fork. The San Luis Valley is bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, the San Juan Mountains to the west and south, and the Cochetopa Hills to the north.
The Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation was established in 2004. It acts as the governing body and fiscal agent for the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, and was formed as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation with the State of Colorado identification number 20041324471. In January 2005, the Foundation received its 501 (c) 3 status as a public foundation. The Foundation is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Foundation are deductible under section 170 of the Code. The Foundation is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Code.
From left to right: Emma Reesor (Executive Director), Connor Born (Project Manager), and Daniel Boyes (Project Coordinator) at Coller State Wildlife Area.