From the Huffington Post (Zak Podmore):
When we talk about reasons to keep water in our rivers — as opposed to sinking it deep into fracking wells, spreading it on the lawns of new subdivisions, or sending it over the Rockies to other river basins — recreation is often found near the top of the list. Recreation is one of the few uses of water that doesn’t require pumping water out of our rivers. Instead, it encourages making our rivers as accessible, clean, and as naturally beautiful as possible.
In an election year like this one some candidates would like us to believe that to be pro-economy you have to be pro-growth, pro-drilling and in favor of new water projects such as reservoirs and diversions. According to this mentality, anything that’s going to protect our state’s natural resources is going to kill jobs and hurt our wallets. But there are other voices speaking up to say the direct opposite: that a strong, stable economy in Western Colorado is going to be built not on the booming and busting cycles of resource extraction, but on the seasonal, sustainable cycles of resource preservation. People who come to enjoy the Western Slope of Colorado to raft, fish, hunt, bike, camp, or simply to sightsee are drawn by the recreational opportunities the mountains and rivers have to offer as intact mountains and rivers.
As our expedition team floated down the length of the Colorado, we met with many river experts who commented on value of river recreation. First was Molly Mugglestone, the project coordinator for river-advocacy group Protect the Flows, who met with us to explain the river’s contribution to the regional economy. Mugglestone has spent the last year creating a coalition of over 500 businesses in the Colorado River Basin who rely on a healthy river for their livelihoods. Coalition members range from the obvious rafting and fishing companies to small businesses in tourist towns who need the yearly influx of people to stay in business. Together Protect the Flows and the businesses they represent have been speaking up for the needs of a recreation economy.