Randy Kelley: Protect our resources

As a seasoned river runner, I can tell you nothing compares to the experience of floating a wild river through wild lands. Preserving that experience depends on a lot of factors, not least of which is ensuring we keep enough water in our rivers to support recreational use.

In Colorado, we need to come to grips with the fact that we live in an arid climate. As a state, we get about 15 inches of precipitation per year, which means we rank a lot closer to states like New Mexico and Nevada than we do New England when it comes to the national average.

Water is a limited resource, especially here in the Southwest, and our usage must reflect that. Like a bank account, we have to live within our means and make sure the books add up. When we overdraft, it’s our rivers that are burdened with the fees.

Colorado’s been overdrafting for years, which is why Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order for the first state water plan. This is an opportunity to begin a legacy of water conservation and efficiency before diverting more water from dwindling Western Slope rivers.

I urge the governor to lead on responsible water use by advocating for a high conservation goal within the state plan, and supporting legislation that promotes water conservation and efficiency — for the sake of Colorado’s people and resources.

Randy Kelley

Steamboat Springs

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