About the River Protection Workgroup (RPW)
The River Protection Workgroup or “RPW” is a community-driven project in Southwest Colorado that covers five river and stream segments. The purpose of this multi-year project is to bring diverse stakeholders together in a collaborative process to determine values needing protection – ecological, economic and social; to recommend the types of tools necessary, either existing or newly-developed, to protect the values; and to make recommendations and take action in the context of striking a balance between the protection of natural values and water development.
About the RPW’s History
The San Juan Public Lands Center (USFS and BLM) is required, in its public lands planning process, to evaluate rivers in their area for “eligibility” and “suitability” for the federal Wild and Scenic River designation. They released their draft Plan in 2007. In 2006, a Government to Government Roundtable met and discussed these issues. It became apparent that a collaborative, community-driven process was needed to engage the broader public in identifying values – economic, ecological, and social – for select river/stream segments and to determine if agreement can be found on the appropriate level(s) of protection. The San Juan Citizens Alliance approached the Southwestern Water Conservation District and they agreed to launch the project by forming a Steering Committee as the first step. The RPW Steering Committee entities and members are listed on the right.
Phase I: Local Workgroups
From 2008 to 2013, five local workgroups were convened on five streams/river segments including: Hermosa Creek; the Animas River above Baker’s Bridge; Vallecito Creek/Pine; San Juan – East and West Forks; and the Piedra River. Each workgroup was open to everyone and the result was a report from each one that details their findings, conclusions and ideas for the future. Note: for the Hermosa Creek Workgroup specifically, federal legislation resulted called the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, and you can learn more at: http://www.hermosacreek.org/)
The RPW reports were widely disseminated to federal, state and local governments and elected officials; non profits; Workgroup members and their various constituents; conservation and water development groups; the media; and the affected communities at large. The RPW Workgroup’s findings do not bind any entity, including governments, to any specific action. Included in each report is a detailed “Information Sheet” which provides myriad information about each river/stream segment.
More information about the RPW project can be found at the buttons on the left including local workgroups’ meeting minutes, handouts, maps and important information. At the “Important Documents” button, find the history of the overall project; the model; a glossary of terms and water agencies; and a tool kit for river protection. If you have any problems negotiating this Web site for finding something, please let us know (contacts are below).
Next step, Phase II, the “Regional Discussion”
Based on the outcomes from the workgroups, the River Protection Workgroup Steering Committee will lead a process called the “Regional Discussion” which will:
- draw on the work done by the local Public Workgroups and develop, if possible, a consensus approach(es) to protection of rivers and river segments in the region while allowing water development to continue;
- honor and include the discussions, recommendations and conclusions of the 5 local River Protection Workgroups;
- be an inclusive process where the local Public Workgroups will remain informed and involved;
- involve the RPW Steering Committee looking carefully at the work done by the five local Workgroups to see if there are any potential next steps and ideas that could be explored across the five basins;
- be based on the river specific Workgroups: their consensus recommendations; their issues and concerns; their ideas; and
- be considered Phase II of the RPW effort, with a target date for completion of summer 2014.
The regional discussion will be a carried out through:
- remaining flexible;
- the RPW Steering Committee developing an initial set of draft ideas and these ideas will then be discussed at the Public Workgroup level;
- using the transparent, inclusive and collaborative principles and process steps that the Public Workgroups use;
- continued funding from a variety of stakeholders;
- understanding that various forms of dialogue and problem solving may be needed, including negotiations or mediation; and
- striving towards consensus, communication and transparency with the Public Workgroups throughout all steps and phases.
For more information:
Tami Graham, Facilitator, (970-759-9716 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bruce Whitehead, Southwestern Water Conservation District (970-247-1302 or email@example.com)
Jimbo Buickerood, San Juan Citizens Alliance (970-259-3583 or firstname.lastname@example.org)