Friends of Rivers and Renewables

Friends of Rivers and Renewables (www.FORR.us) is a group of citizens working to engage and educate residents of the Roaring Fork Valley around the issues related to healthy rivers conservation and clean energy solutions.

FORR recognizes that the best outcomes come from the best process.

Good process allows stakeholders who are affected by a decision to be involved in the decision-making process and their contributions to influence the decision. Through inclusive stakeholder collaboration, participants improve a project’s end result and proponents benefit from increased project support.

FORR strives to facilitate good process through each of its projects. Current projects focus on Science, Education, and Community.

Science – Stream Gaging

FORR believes a community that is knowledgeable about its water resources will be more empowered to protect those resources.

Demands for water for municipal uses, irrigation, recreation (including snowmaking) and energy production put pressure on both the quantity and quality of water in the Roaring Fork Watershed. These demands, coupled with growing population and climate change in the decades ahead, make it essential that we develop a comprehensive system of stream gages to inform the wise management and long-term conservation of local rivers and streams.

Currently, the Roaring Fork Watershed holds stream gages installed over several decades by different agencies to measure flows and diversions at critical locations in the watershed. There is a need to identify new stream monitoring needs, to create an intelligent, interactive and useful gaging network that will support immediate and long-term water management and conservation goals. Federal and state agencies, local governments and conservation organizations in the Roaring Fork Watershed have expressed keen support for such an effort. Furthermore, the region’s leading watershed management organization, the Roaring Fork Conservancy, has identified the creation and maintenance of an adequate network of stream gages in the watershed as a “high priority” in its 2011 Roaring Fork Watershed Management Plan.

A comprehensive stream gaging network provides hydrologic information needed to help define, use, and manage the region’s water resources. An integrated gaging network provides a continuous, well documented, well-archived, unbiased, and broad-based source of reliable water data that may be used for a variety of purposes including the assessment of the health of these ecosystems, a basis for evaluating potential new diversions and impacts, and opportunities for wise restoration or mitigation.

FORR has assumed the role of catalyzing, organizing and coordinating  public and private involvement  in an effort to design and implement a basin-wide system of stream gages. These gages will monitor flows and other indices of stream health in threatened or impaired reaches in the Roaring Fork Watershed. FORR will also coordinate the collection and distribution of real-time data from this network of gages so that it is available and useful to all interested parties who have access to the internet. By identifying technological approaches that are cost-effective and efficient in streamlining and integrating the collection of stream data, FORR hopes to demonstrate that accurate, useful and defensible stream data can be acquired within a reasonable timeframe and budget. At the same time, FORR hopes this collaborative planning process will generate broad public support for efforts to understand and improve the management of scarce water resources.

Public Counsel acknowledges that the principal funding for this gaging project has been generously provided by The Walton Family Foundation.

Education – FORR Dialogues

FORR is committed to engaging and educating citizens in this community about the issues related to our shared appreciation for rivers, and our shared commitment to finding clean energy solutions that do not sacrifice the lifeblood in our streams. FORR dialogues aim to engage the community in lively, informative discussions about the related issues of stream health, renewable energy, climate change and water development.

JOIN FORR! Or “Like” FORR on Facebook to get reminders about our upcoming Dialogues and events

Past FORR Dialogues include:

“Colorado Water at a Crossroads: Options in the face of Energy, Agriculture, Growth, and Climate Change”

December 32012: Bart Miller, Water Program Director at Western Resource Advocates, discussed the multiple water demands that are forcing Colorado to assess its future water supplies.

CO-SPONSORS: Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE)Western Rivers InstituteRoaring Fork ConservancyClean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER)Aspen Global Change InstituteWilderness Workshop, and Thompson Divide Coalition.

Watch Bart’s presentation on Grassroots TV: Colorado Water at a Crossroads

“Sustainable Hydropower in Mountain Communities”

August 27/28: Richard Roos-Collins, Chair, Low Impact Hydro Institute and John Seebach, Director, Hydropower Reform Initiative, American Rivers presented on sustainable hydropower in mountain communities.”
Host: Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) and the Third St. Center in Carbondale
Co-sponsors: Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC)Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER)Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), and Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI).
Watch their presentation on Grassroots TV: Sustainable Hydropower in Mountain Communities

“Climate Change and the Roaring Fork Watershed: The Knowns, The Unknowns, and the Unknowable”

July 11, 2012, Brad Udall, Director of Western Water Assessment at the NOAA-CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center in Boulder discussed how climate change will potentially effect precipitation distribution throughout the nation and our region. He explained how this, along with over allocation and overuse will alter Colorado river flows.

Host: Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES)
Co-sponsors: Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC)Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), and Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI).

Watch Brad’s presentation on GrassRoots TV: Climate Change and the Roaring Fork Watershed

“Protecting Climate, Protecting Nature”

April 26, 2012: Canadian environmentalist Harvey Locke and Montana stream ecologist Ric Hauer in a discussion of the challenges of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation.

Their presentation focused on deepening the community’s understanding of the importance of healthy gravel-bed river systems in maintaining regional biocomplexity and biodiversity, critical to the capacity to adapt to climate change.

Host: Aspen Center for Enviromental Studies (ACES)
Cosponsor: Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC)

Watch their presentation on Grassroots TV: Protecting Climate, Protecting Nature. 

Community – Hydroelectric Collaborative

How does our community move toward cost-effective hydropower projects that mitigate climate change without sacrificing the health and biodiversity of river systems?

FORR believes that the preservation of rivers and the development of renewables are not mutually exclusive.  The Roaring Fork Valley region can acquire additional clean energy in a way that is broadly supported by the community, that protects healthy functioning stream ecosystems, and that is fiscally responsible.

FORR will organize a facilitated stakeholder process that will utilize local expertise to identify and support the region’s best hydropower opportunities.  This process will consider all hydropower alternatives and demonstrate the value of a public engagement process.  It will be facilitated by Michael Kinsley, senior consultant at Rocky Mountain Institute and former Pitkin County Commissioner.

Through a responsible community collaborative process, the Roaring Fork Valley region can claim a leadership role as a community that understands and is willing to debate the critical tradeoffs between climate change mitigation and ecosystem preservation.

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