In March our focus is #MooreWater and #MooreRivers, paying tribute to those tributaries and main arteries that connect communities within states and across borders through commerce, culture, livelihood, recreation and love of nature. We start with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and our visionary partners who protect it: Grand Canyon Trust and American Rivers.
Carving its way 1,450 miles from its start in the Rocky Mountains, through canyons, high plains and low deserts until it empties into the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the Colorado River holds significance in America’s environmental, political and artistic history. Not only does this vast river tumble and flow through the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, and California, providing resources to 30 million people in the Southwest, major cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and San Diego also depend upon the river for drinking water, landscaping and hydroelectric power. For over 12,000 years, the Colorado River has provided the water needs of over 20 Native American Tribes (who now own more than one-third of Arizona’s allotted water rights), launched modern river running practices, inspired many notable painters, photographers, songwriters and authors, while also honing the skills and experience of environmental activists in their political battles in federal court, against dams. Two million acres of land are irrigated thanks to the Colorado River, while also providing habitat for the moose, river trout, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, bear and mountain lions of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the rest of the wild ecologies it cuts through.
Habitat alterations such as water development and the introduction of non-native fish and plant species, along with the heavy use of the river’s water has strained its supply. While many of these actions have been necessary to provide water for irrigation and other resources, and the results have been accidental, the consequences are still damaging. Drought inducing climate change and the heavy drilling of uranium, oil, natural gas and oil shales has resulted in an increase of dry areas along the river and shortages in ever growing populated areas.
The lives that depend upon the resources provided by the Colorado River don’t just begin and end with the people in the cities nearby. Many native flora and fauna of the region has neared the point of extinction due to human involvement. All of the above is why Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation are proud to partner with the Grand Canyon Trust. Through education and community involvement their mission is “to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau — its spectacular landscapes, flowing rivers, clean air, diversity of plants and animals, and areas of beauty and solitude.”
American Rivers, through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers campaign, is another fantastic organization doing their part in protecting and nurturing river-based restoration projects across the countries. We are excited about their progress to date and proud to partner with them in efforts to reverse the damage done to the great Colorado River.
UPDATE: Great news on the Grand Canyon front just hours after this post. Thanks to a decision made by the U.S. Forest Service, the proposed Tusayan development has been stopped. This is a significant victory for American Rivers, the Grand Canyon Trust, local tribes, and all citizens to whom the Grand Canyon belongs.