This week, Governor Jared Polis delivered his first State of the State address to lay out the pillars of his administrations goals and ambitions. Of course, I was listening in with hope that the Governor would mention his desire to improve river health and water policy. Among his many priorities, he did note his support for the Colorado Water Plan, which Audubon and many partners back.

Polis stated: “We must commit to a bipartisan and sustainable funding source for the Colorado Water Plan. Governor Hickenlooper…did extraordinary work bringing together a coalition of Coloradans from all corners of our state to create the Water Plan. Now we’re going to do our part by implementing it.”

Audubon is proud to have supplied nearly 20 percent of the nearly 30,000 public comments received to create Colorado’s inaugural Water Plan. And, we will be there every step of the way through Plan implementation.

The Governor went on to say: “Climate change is a scientific reality. It’s real. There’s no pretending otherwise for farmers and ranchers who are facing historic water shortages. There’s no pretending otherwise for the 46,000 women and men who work in Colorado’s ski industry and see their jobs threatened by decreased snowpack.”

Gov. Polis stands in the shoes of Governor Hickenlooper’s water legacy. He will have an opportunity to make history by implementing and sustainably funding Colorado’s Water Plan. We will need bold collaboration, new technology, and Colorado’s pioneering spirit to achieve Water Plan success—for people and the birds that rely on Colorado’s rivers and streams.

Coloradans know what makes our state so special: our natural beauty. The beauty of our natural landscapes, birds, other wildlife, communities, economies and outdoor recreation hinge on Colorado’s hardworking rivers. Healthy rivers are vital to Colorado’s economic vitality and quality of life. Colorado cannot thrive unless our rivers do too. It’s on us to ensure we bring solutions and actions that support healthy rivers so they can support all of us. The conservation and river health components of the Water Plan, fully funded, will help support Colorado's waterways. Audubon and our partners look forward to working with Governor Polis and his administration.

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