Since the Crystal flows through Gunnison County and the town of Marble, advocates say getting those residents and elected representatives on board will be key to moving the effort forward.
Experts say the main reason there is opposition from water managers to Wild & Scenic in Colorado is not fear of a federal land grab, but the shortage of water in an arid state that is only getting drier with climate change.
Supporters of the designation on the Crystal want two main restrictions aimed at protecting the free-flowing nature of the river: no dams on the main stem and no diversions out of the basin. “If we don’t do something, there is a very real possibility of further water development in the Crystal River Valley,” Pitkin County Attorney John Ely told the Crystal River Caucus.
Chris Treese, the river district’s external affairs manager, had urged board members in a July 1 memo to “respectfully decline to support” Wild and Scenic designation on the Crystal.
Wild and Scenic status, which ultimately requires an act of Congress to obtain, prevents a federal agency from approving, or funding, a new dam or reservoir on a Wild and Scenic-designated river.