Monday, February 13, 2012

Researching the Health of the Colorado River

For those who have been following my blog and/or my Facebook posts, you know that I am writing the third book in my RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series that will be titled Cataract Canyon. Unlike the first two books in the series, Deadly Currents and Wicked Eddies, that are set on the upper Arkansas River in Colorado, Cataract Canyon takes place on the Colorado River in Utah.

Environmentalists and entities that own water rights for Colorado River water have been concerned for many years about the health of the river and whether it can continue to sustain all those who divert water from its flow. In fact, American Rivers (a river conservation organization I support) named it one of America's Most Endangered Rivers in 2010.

Colorado College in Colorado Springs has sponsored a State of the Rockies Project for the last nine years that seeks to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rocky Mountains. This year's focus is the Colorado River basin. One study supported by the project was a trip by two recent graduates, Will Stauffer-Norris and Zak Podmore, who paddled and hiked for 110 days from the "Source to the Sea" of river, making observations on the health of the river along the way. Their starting point was the origin of the Green River (one of the two main tributaries to the Colorado River that merge just above Cataract Canyon) in Wyoming's Wind River Range. Their ending point at the end of January was the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, where the completely drained and exhausted river trickles to the sea across a salty, mud-flat delta.

You can read more about Will Stauffer-Norris's and Zak Podmore's epic expedition at their Source to Sea blog and watch their YouTube videos there. They paddled their kayaks through the exciting whitewater of Cataract Canyon (which I rafted last fall) and the Grand Canyon, as well as through more placid canyons and dammed reservoirs. I hope their expedition, and the focus of the State of the Rockies Project on the Colorado River this academic year, will raise awareness of the enormous pressures that are being placed on this river. And hopefully, we can work together to ease the strain and keep it healthy!


Radine Trees Nehring said...

Not only a good book (well, judging from its predecessors in two series) but a sub-topic that is socially important. Congratulations!!!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Radine!

Gloria Alden said...

Although I live in the east, I've been worried about all rivers and especially the Colorado that has suffered from the influx of so many people taking from it. Then with less snow cover in the Rockies, that only makes things worse.

I'm looking forward to reading the second and third in your series. I enjoyed the first very much.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Gloria!