Photo by Paige Hahn

With a mission to improve the health and vitality of rivers, Forever Our Rivers is pleased to award funding to ten nonprofits across Colorado. In September, those organizations received $51,430 for community-centric river projects. “We are thrilled to support projects on Colorado’s Western Slope, in the San Luis Valley, and along the Front Range,” said Ann Johnston, executive director. “Through the financial support of individuals and businesses, we can make great things happen. We are so grateful for your confidence in our work.” 

The following projects were supported and are listed in no particular order:

A Fishable, Swimmable South Platte River

A dedicated team of young advocates from across metro Denver is on a mission to make the South Platte River not just fishable but swimmable. The focus is on the upper reach of Segment 15, a 26-mile stretch extending north from Denver through Adams County. Lincoln Hills Cares leads the charge by employing ten to 12 youth for this critical initiative. In addition, eight to 10 young participants will be part of the summer-based River Team.

Animas and San Juan Rivers Recreation

The San Juan Citizens Alliance in Durango has long championed improved river access along an 83-mile section of the Animas River. Now, their efforts extend downstream of the Animas confluence in northern New Mexico. What makes this endeavor even more crucial is the community’s transition from fossil fuel to recreation after the closure of a coal-fired power plant and coal mine, which cost over 500 jobs in 2023.

Conejos River Partnership

The Conejos River, the largest tributary of the Rio Grande in Colorado, faces a multitude of challenges, including low streamflow, habitat loss and inefficient irrigation systems. The Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration is stepping in to create efficient diversions that ensure water users can access their full decreed water rights under all streamflow conditions, benefiting farmers and ranchers for generations.

Connecting Kids to Rivers

Collaborating with the Hispanic Affairs Project and Upward Bound, the Colorado Canyons Association provides young adults and youth with exciting river rafting trips to connect with their local rivers and national conservation areas. This initiative empowers emerging leaders and aids first-generation students on their college journey.

Restoring the Yampa River

Despite ample snowfall, the Yampa River faces threats from dry soil and hot temperatures. This poses risks to ecosystems, agriculture and tourism. Funding for the Colorado Water Trust will bolster river health, allowing the Colorado Water Conservation Board to purchase water for instream flows.

North Fork of the Gunnison River Trail Project

Colorado West Land Trust is acquiring seven acres of riparian habitat for public open space and trails along the North Fork of the Gunnison River. This vital corridor will connect Delta County School District green space to Paonia’s downtown and library. Protection will ensure these wetlands continue to provide food and habitat for wildlife. It will also ensure this area’s role as a migration corridor for big game. The trail will be closed during elk and deer migration season.

Gunnison River Basin Watershed Education

Friends of Youth and Nature ensures underserved youth in several Colorado counties connect with water and nature through education and recreation programs throughout the year. The TRY (Together for Resilient Youth) program offers aquatic life education, stand-up paddle trips and visits to local parks and fish hatcheries while also addressing food insecurity with participants.

Jasper Springs River and Wetland Restoration

The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust is embarking on a project to restore seven acres of freshwater emergent wetlands along Jasper Springs, which flows into the San Luis Valley, supporting fresh drinking water, agricultural and ranching needs.

Taylor Park Headwaters

High Country Conservation Advocates and Gunnison Valley Mentors are teaming up for an ongoing restoration project at the headwaters of the Taylor River. This project employs low-tech, process-based restoration to mimic beaver dams, preserving riparian and wetland ecosystems. This initiative will give Middle school girls a unique opportunity to experience riparian restoration.

Education on Climate and Colorado Rivers 

Eureka! in Grand Junction leads a program along the Colorado River, introducing local students to climate change and water science through hands-on education, data collection and restoration. Funding supports scholarships and reduced tuition for underserved, low-income, bilingual youth.

Many other worthy organizations applied for funding. We are looking for additional funds for these projects and time is of the essence! If you are interested in supporting river health, please send Forever Our Rivers a donation today.

We’ll make sure that we spend it where it is needed most. Because as experts in river health, we don’t just cut checks and call it a day. We meticulously vet our nonprofit partners, exclusively teaming up with passionate and diligent nonprofits. Our grant programs play a vital role in filling critical funding gaps. Together, we can make an even greater impact on the rivers and all that depend on them.