Millions of tourists flock to the banks of the River and its tributaries each year for boating, fishing, birding, hunting, and hiking which adds up to a $26 billion dollar recreation economy. Protect the Flows works to address the supply and demand imbalances the Colorado River faces in the future by emphasizing the economic importance of a healthy river. Find out more about what is at stake for the businesses who depend on this resource and how much the outdoor recreation economy contributes in each of the 7 Colorado River Basin states HERE.
- Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Waterman -
The lifeline of the west – for generations to come?
Until 1998, the River stretched all the way from its source in the Colorado Rockies to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Now, it dries up in the Sonoran Desert miles before it reaches the sea. In the Spring of 2011 a group of Protect the Flows businesses traveled to the Colorado River delta region south of Yuma, AZ to get a first hand glimpse into the issues facing the river. This region is dried up and struggling to support habitat because the river hasn’t reached the Sea of Cortez in eleven years. Watch the short documentary filmed by This American Land which covers the trip and includes interviews with our members who traveled there to send the message that healthy rivers equal a healthy economy and environment.
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Waterman
The Colorado River Basin
The Colorado River is the lifeline of the west, fueling our economies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
- Thirty-six million people, from Denver to LA depend on the Colorado River for drinking water.
- The Colorado River irrigates nearly 4 million acres of land, which grow 15% of the nation’s crops.
- Storage of the river’s water in western reservoirs has dropped 40% in 13 years.
- The River supports a way of life that keeps people coming out West and is a fundamental component of our recreation and tourism industry in the West. The river system supports a quarter million jobs and contributes $26 billion annually to the economies of the seven Colorado River states.
The Colorado River Basin, or watershed, covers 246,000 square miles, seven U.S. states, and two Mexican states, and serves 20 American Indian nations. If you’re a map person, don’t miss this interactive map of the Colorado River by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.