Colorado Conservation Exchange – Collaboration in Action

By: Robin Reid

Update: Please visit the new Watershed Inventory that describes the current work and knowledge on watershed health in the Cache la Poudre watershed of northern Colorado, where you can browse a map of activities and projects related to the Poudre, and download the full Cache la Poudre ‘Yellow Pages’! We hope that the information provided in this directory will help organizations in this watershed to share information, collaborate more effectively, and promote stronger work in the watershed.  A second inventory for the Big Thompson watershed is in our work plan for 2015.

What’s happening in Colorado’s watersheds?

Colorado’s watersheds have provided generations of community members with clean water, abundant wildlife, inspiring places for recreation, healthy forests, locally grown food, and much more.  But our watersheds are threatened.  Colorado’s population is expected to double in the next 40 years.  Wildfires are occurring at greater scales and intensities.  Our climate is less predictable. Water supplies are limited, and the purity of our streams and lakes are declining.  Meeting these challenges will require new resources and new forms of cooperation between rural and urban residents, agriculture and industry, water providers and water users.  The Colorado Conservation Exchange seeks to establish an innovative mechanism—a watershed investment fund—that will leverage current funding programs to attract new investment from untapped sources, and foster expanded collaboration. By working together, to protect the health of our watersheds, we can ensure that the natural resources our communities rely upon will remain healthy, vibrant, and economically productive for decades to come.

Creating a Watershed Investment Fund
Although the watershed investment fund can be used for a wide variety of best management practices, the initial focus of the Colorado Conservation Exchange (Exchange) is water quality in the Poudre and Big Thompson watersheds.  This will encompass both upstream (drinking water), and downstream (wastewater treatment).  Our goal is to establish a watershed investment fund that will begin financing priority water quality projects on forested and agricultural lands in 2015, after establishing procedures for selecting, monitoring and evaluating outcomes of such projects.  Once we have thoroughly tested the Exchange we will expand to working on other ecosystem services like wildlife habitat, native species, and carbon.

The next work of the Exchange is to finish the Design Phase and move to a full Exchange test of its proof-of-concept (see figure below). This is will require new partners and additional resources.

Contact the Colorado Conservation Exchange

Additional input and perspectives are welcomed to ensure the Colorado Conservation Exchange addresses the needs of all parties actively engaged in significant sustainable watershed efforts for the Poudre and Big Thompson watersheds.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Colorado Conservation Exchange can contact:

Robin Reid
Director, Center for Collaborative Conservation
Student Services Building, Room 226
1401 Campus Delivery
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523

Supporting Organizations