Philanthropists Unite to Save the Colorado River


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A coalition of seven corporations and foundations driven by sustainability have united to raise funding and awareness for the environmentally threatened Colorado River. The campaign, initiated by New Belgium Brewing and the Clean Water Fund, will donate money to environmental non-profits in the Colorado River basin working to promote water conservation and protect the river.
“We are proud to bring this dedicated group of environmental philanthropists together,” said Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing. “The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American Southwest, and it is the lifeblood of the people and the companies that thrive here. Although the threats to this river are enormous, we want to step forward and begin the necessary work to help keep it alive.”
The philanthropic campaign includes partners from the beginning of the Colorado River basin all the way to the end:
New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
Patagonia, Ventura, California
Aspen Snowmass Environment Foundation, Aspen, Colorado
Kenney Brothers Foundation, Denver, Colorado
National Geographic Maps, Evergreen, Colorado
Environment Now, Santa Monica, California
OARS, Angels Camp, California

In an average year, the Colorado River flows with approximately 5 trillion gallons of water. Over the last decade, dams, diversions, and a population of 30-million users have completely drained the Colorado so that it no longer reaches the Gulf of California but ends in an ecologically degraded mud flat.
Climate change, population growth and drought threaten to deplete the river even further. Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation proclaimed that within 2 years the water level in Lake Mead could drop so low that serious water and electric shortages will occur in Las Vegas. The river also contains four endangered species of fish that are clinging to life amidst the dammed and depleted flows.
The “Save the Colorado” campaign will donate funding through a granting cycle twice a year for three years – 2010, 2011, and 2012. Granting will total nearly $500,000 and will focus on three programmatic areas:

1. Efforts that raise public awareness about the threats to the Colorado River and its water supplies.

2. Efforts that promote water conservation, or change public policy about water conservation, in cities that receive Colorado River
water including the Denver/Front Range of Colorado, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

3. Efforts that protect and enhance the ecological health and biodiversity of the Colorado River and its tributaries, including addressing
the threats of new diversions and dams, mitigating past degradation and securing “instream flows.”

“The beauty and scale of the Colorado River are inspiring to all of us in the West,” said Hans Cole, Environmental Grants Manager for Patagonia. “But, the river also provides a dramatic example of how fragile such a powerful force of nature can be when faced with the combined threats of over consumption, drought and climate change. The River and the natural communities that rely on it need our help. We are honored to join this campaign.”

Please visit to learn more about how businesses, environmental non-profits and individuals can get involved. The first granting cycle accepts applications from June 1 – June 30, 2010.

Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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