Preserving Flaming Gorge and the Green River
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is one of Wyomings popular features. More than 2 million people visit Flaming Gorge each year, participating in activities such as fishing, boating, camping, hiking, horseback-riding and scenic tours. Yet a proposal by a Colorado developer could drain Flaming Gorge of much of its water, negatively impacting recreational opportunities, the environment and the local tourism economy in southwest Wyoming.
The Million Conservation Resource Group wants to pump water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge through a 560-mile pipeline to the Front Range of Colorado. They are proposing to withdraw 250,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge each year. Removing this much water could have a dramatic effect on the reservoir and the ecosystem.
The project, known as the Regional Watershed Supply Project (RWSP), would require the construction of one or two withdrawal facilities, where the water would be diverted into a system of storage reservoirs and pipelines, beginning its journey to the Front Range of Colorado. The Million Conservation Resource Group would like to withdraw water from the east side of Flaming Gorge Reservoir and from the Green River just south of the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.
The comment period for Scoping is closed, however, you should still voice your opposition to this proposal. Click here for letter-to-the-editor talking points and contact information. Click here for contact information for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that could grant a permit for this project.
Read an opinion piece here.
What are the impacts?
As hunters, anglers, wildlife-watchers and recreationists, Wyomingites should all be concerned about a proposal that might diminish the opportunity to participate in activities that make Wyoming the special place it is. The RWSP could have numerous negative environmental impacts on Wyomings fisheries and wildlife. The project could also have a negative affect on the economy of southwestern Wyoming. Following are just a few reasons to oppose this project.
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is a key attraction in southwest Wyoming and northeast Utah. With fishing, boating, camping, hiking and scenic tours, Flaming Gorge offers a wide array of activities for visitors and residents alike. Flaming Gorge is likely to be negatively affected by the proposed project, as RWSP will cause major draw-downs of water in the reservoir. Flaming Gorge is a major recreation destination site and significant changes in visitation would negatively impact the economy of the area.
Diverting 250,000 acre-feet of water each year from the Green River and Flaming Gorge is likely to have a negative impact on entire fisheries. Lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and burbot all live in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and attract anglers from far and wide. Whole fisheries will likely be reduced or lost as a result of this project. Angling opportunities on the Green River above and below the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area will be reduced.
The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, through which the Green River passes, will likely see significant adverse impacts as a result of the drawdown of water from the project. The refuge was established in part as mitigation for loss of habitat due to the construction of several dams in the area. Because such a massive withdrawal and diversion of water could affect additional habitat, the mitigation role played by this refuge will be compromised.
Communities in southwestern Wyoming will likely experience significant adverse impacts in terms of their ability to grow in the future. Agricultural projects up and down the Green River could see negative impacts, as could existing and future industry and residential growth.
Global climate change is likely to reduce flow in the Green River, making water demands for industrial, agricultural, and municipal needs harder and harder to meet. As the climate changes, we could see glaciers begin to disappear from the Wind River mountain range, where the Green River originates, and less snowpack flowing into the river each year. Before moving forward on the project, its important to consider potential reductions in flow from global climate change.
There likely will be large demands placed on the Colorado River system for energy development projects in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Proposals to develop commercial oil shale will require massive amounts of water. This project cannot be approved without evaluating all the other large-scale projects that will require water from the Upper Colorado River system.
Additional Information and Resources
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