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Poudre Runs Through It (PRTI) – Cache Le Poudre National Heritage Site

By: Johnny Roos
Water is a vital life force for life on our small blue planet and the rivers are often seen as the veins, flowing love and energy from top to bottom and growing green in between. On the surface, we find our world’s chemistry content is made of several elements: iron, 32%; oxygen, 30%; silicon, 15%; magnesium, 14 %; sulfur, 3%; nickel, 2 %; and trace amounts of others. Hydrogen is also found in abundance.
This dance of solids and gases all come together in liquids like H2O, water, or in science; the universal solvent. The lifeblood of northern Colorado, the Cache Le Poudre river allowed us to become an agricultural hub. She played a key role in our development and the development of water laws for the whole US! Coming from the Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s a major part of our cultural identification and a national heritage site. The river also helped in development of water delivery systems now used nationwide.
Known as the “working Cache” it is responsible for the establishment and growth in this area both municipally and in agriculture. In the 1800’s a dispute rose as water levels dropped between previously established Greeley and newly formed Ft. Collins. A water war almost broke out until the “Prior Appropriation Doctrine” was drafted based on “First in time, First in right”. This brought “Prior Claim” of Greeley & “Greatest Need” of Ft. Collins together to create peace. It helped that the rain came back too.
I wonder as we see transitioning into more urban living how will farmers be this constant change? Much like the narrowly averted water wars of the 1800’s, will we see a similar situation between urban and rural? Their debate was between Prior Claim & Greatest Need. What will be the approaching debate see?
It took two decades to fill Horsetooth Reservoir to allow sheep and sugar beets to be grown, are our current practices similarly looking out that far?
My interest was most sparked when the video’s orator described the naming of the river by the French in 1840, as it was a stash for gunpowder. What did the native people call it? It’s interesting to see when people’s stories start; I think it plays a large role in how the rest of the story plays out. Greeley took the stance of first in time, were they? Ft. Collins’s stance was greatest need. Did that include the needs of the river or native people? I feel there might be more stakeholders here than the video described though very we’ll done siting the Poudre River as a National Heritage Site.