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The Dollar Value of the Colorado River Basin

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A new report commissioned by the advocacy group Protect the Flows says recreational activity along the Colorado River Basin generates more than $6.3 billion worth of direct spending into Colorado each year. Additionally river-based recreation accounts for $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues annually.

Molly Mugglestone represents small businesses that depend on the Colorado River for Protect the Flows. She says their report found that 79,585 Coloradans’ jobs depend on the river in some way.

“So if the Colorado River were an employer all the jobs that are tied to the river are about 3.5% of Colorado’s total employed workforce. And we’ve done a little comparison and that’s equivalent to Fedex and it out ranks Dish Network which is another major Colorado employer,” Mugglestone says.

The Colorado River Basin also produces $26 billion in economic output and supports 234,000 jobs across Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Mugglestone says Colorado provides the largest share of the river’s recreational activity with over one million adults or 45% of the adult population using the Colorado River for recreation.

The Economic Gains of River-Related Recreation in Colorado [pdf]:

  • $6,364,292,781 in Direct Spending
  • $9,577,271,371 in Total Output
  • $4,046,382,439 in Labor Income
  • $1,188,371,868 in Federal, State and Local Taxes
My journalism career started in college when I worked as a reporter and Weekend Edition host for WEKU-FM, an NPR member station in Richmond, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.
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