Go With the Flow and Support Instream Flows!

Fish need water- and we’re working to assure that they have room to swim.

An instream flow is a legal water right to protect a quantified minimum amount of water in a stream. Because it is a water right that is decreed in time, instream flow rights don’t take priority over irrigation, municipal, and/or other rights established earlier in time, but can protect minimum flows for fisheries against future appropriations. These flows are important to provide water for riparian ecosystems, wildlife, and fisheries. They benefit other aspects of our local community as well. By living in a community that values outdoor recreation and relies on tourism, instream flow appropriations inherently contribute to a healthy economy while promoting the overall scenic beauty of the Gunnison Valley.

Over the past few years, High Country Conservation Advocates’ water program has worked collaboratively to appropriate instream flow protections on Oh-Be-Joyful Creek and the Slate River. In 2015/16 we partnered with Western Resource Advocates to successfully protect an appropriation on Schaefer Creek through the water court process. HCCA is continuing to pursue new appropriations moving forward. In 2016, we partnered with American Rivers to propose instream flow protections for Coal Creek and Brush Creek in and around the town of Crested Butte. Going forward in our water program, we plan to proposed two new instream flow proposals in our basin each year.

2018 Instream Flow Proposal: Gold Creek

In January 2018, at Water Congress, HCCA introduced our newest instream flow candidate— Gold Creek. Gold Creek originates on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands in Gunnison County and in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness area. The Gold Creek riparian area is diverse, consisting of mixed pine forest near the headwaters, willows and alders in the middle segment, and irrigated hay meadows near the confluence with Quartz Creek. There is a healthy population of brook trout in the stream. When we were gathering data for our proposal, the pool above our sampling location was littered with brookies! We’ll be working with the Division of Water Resources and Natural Streams and Lakes Protection Unit to develop this proposal.

2017 Instream Flow Proposals Update

On January 29, 2018, the CWCB moved forward protections on Dutchman Creek by voting to appropriate the water we requested to protect the Dutchman Creek fishery and riparian area. Thank you for your support in this effort—the board noted the comments and signatures put forth by our community when voting to move forward.

Check out the video below to learn more about HCCA’s past instream flow proposals: