'Water literacy' goal of forum

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In Northwest Colorado, water is an issue even in wet years.

But 2004 is proving to be another drought year, as forecasters predict the low snowpack could result in conditions similar to the record breaking dryness of 2002.

In an effort to educate the general public about water issues in the Yampa Valley, ranching and environmental interest groups are hosting the Yampa River Basin Water Forum at Hayden High School on June 3.

"It's a 101 on where water comes from, where water goes and what legal rights you have," said Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.

The organizers ask that anyone wishing to attend R.S.V.P by May 28. The cost is $15 and includes dinner.

The Community Agriculture Alliance is sponsoring the event along with The Nature Conservancy, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and the Yampa River Basin Partnership.

"The goal, in the general sense, is to increase the water literacy of the community," said Ann Oliver, Yampa River Project Coordinator with The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation group.

The forum will focus on the future of water in the Yampa Valley. Oliver said the Yampa River is fairly unusual for the West; valley residents still expect it will be able to provide for their water needs in the future, and it is still healthy because its seasonal flows are as yet unimpeded by dams, as other Colorado rivers are.

Speakers at the forum include Dan Birch and Eric Kuhn of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Both men have been involved in the endangered fish recovery program in the Yampa River.

Lori Jazwik of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and Darryl Steele, State Wide Water Supply Initiate Board member and Moffat County commissioner, also will speak.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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