The next Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, comes to the Capitol amid one of the driest years since the state began tracking water supplies 123 years ago. Audubon wishes the new Governor much success in addressing priority needs for Colorado understanding he enters the office in an unprecedented time for the Colorado River Basin where water leaders are working to avoid widespread crisis, balancing water demand with available supply.
As the new leader of the Centennial State, home of the Colorado River’s headwaters in the Rockies, Governor-elect Polis will have to work with key partners in the state as well as his interstate peers across the Colorado River basin to ensure adequate water supplies for the 40 million people who consume Colorado River water, not to mention the working lands, birds, and other wildlife who critically rely on it.
Governor-elect Polis, like Governor Hickenlooper, has publicly stated a commitment to Colorado’s rivers and the Colorado Water Plan. However, the Water Plan needs sufficient and sustainable funding to be successful. Audubon is committed to working with the Governor and partners on the implementation of this Plan for the protection of Colorado’s hardworking rivers. We were pleased to see that he made it a part of his campaign.
Coloradans overwhelmingly (96 percent) believe that the outdoor recreation economy—meaning people who go birding, fishing, hunting, camping, and all of the equipment made and sold in the state—is vital to the economic future of the state. This is according to the annual State of the Rockies poll from Colorado College which also found that 80 percent of Coloradans favor “using our current water supply more wisely, by encouraging more water conservation, reducing use, and increasing recycling of water” over “diverting more waters from rivers” to address inadequate water supplies.
And while the snowpack isn’t as reliable as we once thought it was, the River is still an integral part of Colorado’s identity, economy, and natural heritage. Coloradans know what makes our state so special – our rivers. We are a state of conservation and outdoor recreation. Let’s work together to protect our rivers and water supply for birds, our economy, and for future generations.
Congratulations to Governor-elect Polis on his election, Audubon looks forward to working with you.