Although most people are familiar with John Wesley Powell as the intrepid one-armed Civil War veteran who became the first European to explore the canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers in 1869 and again in 1871-72, it is the work that Powell did following his epic journeys for which he truly should be famous. Powell understood the challenges of life in a land of little water like few others of his time, and his ideas for settlement of this region were visionary. As water becomes scarcer and more precious in the West, Powell’s ideas may provide valuable guidance for water managers at all levels in the coming decades.
The Colorado River Basin is one of the driest river basins in the world, yet it has nonetheless birthed extraordinary landscapes and entire civilizations. The waters of this desert basin now support more than 40 million people—more than 10% of the country’s population depends in part or entirely on the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Colorado examines nine episodes in the history of our interaction with the Colorado River, from early prehistoric cultures to the Spanish explorations of the lower reaches of the river, the dam building frenzy of the early and middle 20th century, industrial agriculture and the current use of water throughout the region. This book provides important history and context to one of the country’s most important—and most endangered—watersheds.
The first annual Gunnison River Teacher Institute was a success! Western State Colorado University's Extended Studies Program and the Colorado Water Workshop collaborated to create the teacher institute. Teachers participated from the Gunnison, South Platte, and Arkansas Basins. Through many hands-on interactive activities they learned how to incorporate watershed thinking into their curriculum to create relevant context and connections for their students.
The fast paced week long rigorous 3 graduate credit course included tools for teaching western water management, river ecology, fisheries, and geography of the Colorado River Basin. Field experiences included a hike to Morrow Point Reservoir and up East Elk Creek with Curecanti National Recreation Area, Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery tour, Spring Creek river ecology field day with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado Trout Unlimited, tour of Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, whitewater rafting on the Taylor River, and a visit to Coldharbour Ranch.
The second half of the week teachers participated in the 42nd annual Colorado Water Workshop conference engaging with water resource professionals from across Colorado learning about current water issues and innovative management strategies. Participating in the Gunnison River Festival was also included throughout the week including water trivia night, live music, and a celebration at the Gunnison Whitewater Park.
Learning all about watersheds and how they work
Institute Feedback from Participants
Reflection on the River Institute from Sarah Johnson, Instructor
The 2018 River Teacher Institute planning is underway and details will be announced in January 2018. Sign up here to get information about upcoming workshop details.
A couple final videos from the week
Sarah was invited during the fall of 2016 to collaborate with the Colorado Geographic Alliance to create lessons and curriculum using the new Colorado Giant Map. The lessons designed by Sarah focused on Colorado's rivers, watersheds, and the continental divide. This map will travel around the state to elementary and middle schools in coming years. Read more.
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