Kent Vertrees: State water plan | SteamboatToday.com

Kent Vertrees: State water plan

As one of the last states in the west to develop a comprehensive, guiding vision for managing its water, Colorado's efforts to develop its own state water plan is nearing the finish line. The plan is timely and important, as water has increasingly become a controversial issue, as outdated laws struggle to keep up with new and existing uses and a growing, thirsty population.

I highly commend the Colorado Water Conservation Board for its work on this effort, and I am encouraged that they continue to listen to public comments as the process moves forward toward a final draft.

Clean and healthy rivers are crucial for preserving our heritage and way of life. Vibrant, flowing rivers are vital for fish and wildlife and support recreational opportunities such as kayaking and fishing. These industries are also a valuable economic engine for our state.

At recent public hearings in Craig, residents were given another opportunity to provide input on Colorado's plan, and I think others share my perspective that the plan is headed in the right direction, even if it still needs work.

I would like to see continued improvement in the final plan, specifically regarding funds for healthy rivers, stream management planning and river restoration. The second draft of the plan acknowledges a need for up to $3 billion for the protection of healthy rivers but does not yet provide specific funding recommendations. These funds are critical to the ultimate success of the plan and the protection of our rivers and streams across the state.

As someone who appreciates healthy rivers, especially when it comes to the Yampa, it is important that our state water plan is built on recommendations that include sufficient funding to be actionable and guarantee success.

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I encourage legislators and board members involved in this process to ensure that the plan has the strength to be effective. Colorado's rivers and streams are vitally important to people and ecosystems alike, and we must to ensure their preservation for generations to come.

Kent Vertrees

Steamboat Springs