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River Advocates Rally at Colorado Capitol

Conservation groups are renewing calls for tighter environmental regulations to protect the Upper Colorado River, which supplies water for millions and also generates millions of dollars for western Colorado’s tourism-based economy. 

To that end, groups led by the Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimitedstaged a small rally outside the state capitol Wednesday calling on the Governor to support their cause. About fifty people fought back a stiff wind holding signs that read “Don’t Suck the Colorado River Dry” before hand delivering a giant postcard to the Governor’s office. 

They’re frustrated with two Front Range agencies’ proposals to divert more water, which if approved, they say could leave the famed river with just a fifth of its natural flows. 

Grand County landowner Mike Ruppuci said he understands a secure water supply is important for the Front Range economy.  But he said tourism is also important for the western slope.

"We’ve seen what’s happened with the pine beetle epidemic," Ruppuci said.  "It’s not as beautiful as it once was, and if we take away the water in the rivers, it only gets worse." 

The rally was largely symbolic since the federal government,and not the state, has the final say on the two proposals. The Environmental Protection Agency recently delayed a decision on one saying more study is needed. 

Water officials on the Front Range say their proposals would have minimal environmental impacts.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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