Committed to Colorado
The breathtaking and diverse landscapes of Colorado inspire me. Aspen leaves ablaze with color in the autumn, the iconic snow-capped Rockies in winter, picturesque cities and towns full of friendly faces—there’s something for everyone here. Colorado is home to many of our supporters and has captured the hearts of staff and friends since our founding in 1990. Sonoran Institute has been working with people and communities in Colorado for over 20 years and is committed to ensuring the sustainability and resilience of communities and watersheds here.
The Colorado River—a river that nearly 40 million people in the West depend upon for their livelihoods—begins here and weaves its way through all our current projects. Changes at the source of this critical river quite literally flow downstream to affect diverse communities, agriculture and economies, right down to the Delta in Mexico. Climate change is compounding an already over-taxed system and makes clear the need to plan for an uncertain future.
Sonoran Institute is proudly taking part in Colorado’s response to climate change with our Growing Water Smart workshops. These workshops, which were developed in collaboration with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy with support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Gates Family Foundation, represent what we do best at Sonoran Institute: make connections. Together we address the challenges that long-term drought, wildfire and flooding will bring to communities. The environmental, social, and economic benefits of building resilient communities will support not just this state, but the entire Colorado River watershed and ALL the people who rely on it.
To date, we have provided training to communities representing more than 1 in 5 of Coloradans. We also provide technical assistance grants to ensure municipalities are informed and innovative about their water supply and demand. We received APA Colorado’s Sustainability and Environmental planning award in September 2019 for this work, and we’re excited to expand the workshops to Arizona this spring. Through all our work, our innovative, collaborative solutions serve as examples that can be adapted and scaled.
Community is at the root of all our success—how else can we hope to live up to our mission to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them? Our multi-pronged approach to restoration in the Delta is fueled by community engagement and just received an honorable recognition from the Mexican federal government. This prestigious acknowledgment is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated staff and volunteers. Our advocacy for the use of recycled wastewater in rivers like the Santa Cruz serves as a model for other rivers in the West and beyond. Seeing dedicated flowing water near downtown Tucson means that a vast new audience of potential stewards has been introduced to the vitality of this Living River.
Sonoran Institute will celebrate 30 years of working for the West in 2020. This anniversary has us reflecting on our deep roots in the North American West as we plan steps to foster and further the lasting conservation we’re known for. The common threads of collaboration and civil dialogue are just as apt and necessary today because change that starts at the community level must be inclusive and equitable. I thank each and every one of our supporters for making our successes possible and look forward to celebrating with you.
All of us at Sonoran Institute wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and new year!
Blog Post By: Stephanie Sklar, Chief Executive Officer of the Sonoran Institute