In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Western Rivers Conservancy launched an exciting new project to expand open space and improve river access for the city of Alamosa. Our effort will conserve a valuable stretch of the upper Rio Grande as both nature park and outdoor playground, doubling the size of Alamosa’s public park system and meeting the community’s need for recreational opportunities centered around the river.
This arcticle ran on October 4, 2017 online at Intermountain West Joint Venture.
As a kid growing up in the San Luis Valley, Brian Bechaver, now a district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, had free run of his family’s ranch, plus the sagebrush and riverside cottonwood groves on neighboring ranches, too. Over several decades he’s watched familiar agricultural land go up for sale and end up in hands that might not continue the access-friendly neighbor practices of the past.
But at least a few of the ranches Bechaver roamed will always be open to everyone. In 2016, with the goal of protecting prime fish and wildlife habitat and improving public access, the non-profit Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the Brownie Hills and Olguin Ranch properties in the San Luis Valley.
Deepening our commitment to Colorado’s San Luis Valley and the upper Rio Grande, Western Rivers Conservancy is preparing to purchase 368 acres along the Rio de los Piños. This high-elevation trout stream flows from nearly 10,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains and descends swiftly toward the San Luis Valley. Below Cumbres Pass, just off the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway, the river enters a high plateau and slows to a picture-perfect, meandering trout stream, surrounded by open meadows and mixed conifer forests of spruce and fir.
All of us at Western Rivers Conservancy are proud of the progress we made in 2015 working to save the great rivers of the West. We could never have done it without your help.
We created this slideshow of ten rivers we worked to conserve in 2015 as our way of saying thanks, to all of you who have ever supported WRC. We hope it gives you the same sense of pride that we feel—and that it serves as inspiration for the year to come.
Few rivers occupy a place in the country’s collective imagination like the Rio Grande. One of the West’s most iconic rivers, the “Brave River of the North” flows for nearly 2,000 miles, from its headwaters in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. Although much of the lower river has been diverted or impounded by dams, extensive reaches of the upper river remain critical to imperiled fish and wildlife and offer outstanding recreation opportunities. In these upper reaches, Western Rivers Conservancy has secured a rare opportunity to protect an expansive reach of riverland for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.