It is Colorado River Headwaters Land Trust’s responsibility to do its part to protect the spectacular valleys and scenic views created by the headwaters of the Colorado River in Grand County. The rivers and streams of the Colorado River headwaters have shaped and continue to sustain the scenic valleys and landscapes so critical to Grand County’s economy, cultural heritage and quality of life. These are the landscapes Colorado Headwaters Land Trust is working hard to protect, by focusing its efforts on two major conservation projects: the Colorado River and Fraser River Initiatives.
The magnificent Colorado River — the carver of the Grand Canyon and the lifeline of the southwest — is the most endangered river in the United States. It begins its 1,450-mile journey in Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand County. Several of the river’s headwater tributaries, including the Fraser River, also begin in the county and flow into the Colorado River before it flows out of the county and downstream through seven states to the Gulf of Mexico. These headwaters are struggling to retain their valuable natural attributes: scenic open space, wetlands, vital water rights, working ranches, critical cold-water aquatic habitat and world class rafting and fly fishing.
The land trust’s goal for this initiative is to acquire purchased or donated conservation easements that encumber both land and water rights — thus tying the water rights to the land — on qualified properties with willing landowners along the river to help ensure that Grand County’s spectacular Colorado River landscapes endure forever. As part of this initiative, Colorado Headwaters Land Trust is working on several donated easements as well as purchased easements through bargain sales.
The Fraser River was recently named the third most endangered river in the nation by American Rivers. This 32.5-mile river completes its entire journey in Grand County — it begins on Berthoud Pass, flows through the Fraser River Valley and confluences with the Colorado River near Granby. The land trust launched this initiative in 2011.
The land trust’s goal for this initiative is to protect private land along the river in partnership with willing landowners and to increase awareness of the Fraser Rivers’ plight. Colorado Headwaters Land Trust has closed several conservation easements along the Fraser River.