River Protection Group

Successful Passage of the Hermosa Creek Act! Get Involved in the SMA Management Plan!

Our communities continue to celebrate the successful passage of the 2014 Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act!   This Act came out of the River Protection Workgroup Hermosa Creek Workgroup. Thank you to US Senator Michael Bennet and US Congressman Scott Tipton for getting this through Congress.   Read more here >>

The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act Legislation called for developing a management plan for the new Hermosa Creek Special Management Area (SMA). In 2015, the planning process kicked off through the Columbine District of the San Juan National Forest (USFS).   To get involved and learn more click here or contact Cam Hooley, USFS Project Leader, at 970 - 884 -1414

Community celebration with US Senator Michael Bennet and US Congressman Scott Tipton in 12/14 of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act (photo: San Juan Citizens Alliance)

River Protection Workgroups’ Reports

Animas River
Hermosa Creek

Vallecito Creek / Pine River
Piedra River
San Juan – East and West Forks (upper San Juan)

About the River Protection Workgroup

The River Protection Workgroup (RPW) is a community-driven project that covers five river and stream segments. The project brings 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.

Phase I: Local Workgroups (2008 to 2013)

Five local facilitated workgroups were convened on these 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. In this phase, 144 different groups and entities were involved. There were 93 workgroup meetings held and an average of 25 to 30 participants attended each one. A total of 96 Steering Committee meetings took place during this time. Detailed “Information Sheets” were created for each workgroup and at the buttons on the left you can find workgroup final reports, maps, meeting notes, handouts, consensus workgroup Values Statements, and much more.

Phase II, the “Regional Discussion”

Starting in late 2013, the “Regional Discussion” or Phase II started.In this phase, the Steering Committee is utilizing the five Workgroups’ reports to craft a proposed “regional package” of river and stream protections that allows water development to continue; protects both human and ecological values; includes a suite of tools both federal and state (the federal tools will require successful federal legislation). The federal portion of the regional package includes alternatives to Wild and Scenic River (WSR) on some segments, retaining WSR suitability on some segments, and full designation of one WSR on Hermosa Creek, plus other features.

In June of 2015, the Steering Committee gained agreement on a framework for the draft and proposed “regional package.” They are now working out a draft federal legislative bill. The proposed and draft legislative bill will be widely vetted with key stakeholders and counties. Some of the items in the “regional package” do not require federal legislation because they involve tools available on the State level. The Steering Committee knows that broad-based supposed is necessary to move forward. For information, please contact one of the Steering Committee members or the facilitator.

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.

For more information:

Marsha Porter-Norton, Facilitator, (970-247-8306 or mporternorton@gmail.com)

Bruce Whitehead, Southwestern Water Conservation District (970-247-1302 or water@frontier.net) 

Jimbo Buickerood, San Juan Citizens Alliance (970-259-3583 or jimbo@sanjuancitizens.org)

River Protection Workgroup