Eagle River Watershed Council: Who wants to play some river trivia?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, trivia is defined as unimportant facts or details that are not well-known. For some, it is where their years of banking little tidbits of knowledge come to shine, and for others (like me), it’s where your friends realize that while you can memorize the lyrics of every song, your brain does not retain small details from that documentary you watched three years ago. Sigh.
However, there are some trivia facts that might be lesser-known but are important for a person living in Eagle County to think about. Those facts surround our rivers, watershed and life along these waterways. Join us, Eagle River Watershed Council, for a quick round of trivia you can play along with that cup of coffee in your hand.
The Eagle River Watershed is within the headwaters of the Colorado River, a river system iconic within the West and is of utmost importance for our daily lives and millions of others downstream. The Eagle River begins and ends within the same county as its namesake, leaving it up to our community to protect. Now for the first question: How many square miles does the Eagle River Watershed drain? Hint: It’s also on our website, ERWC.org.
The saying that what can’t be measured can’t be improved motivates the Watershed Council. Together with a group of incredible partners, the Watershed Council established the Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Program to continuously gather data from around the watershed and analyze it for emerging threats. Every two years, that data is used to update a virtual report card that highlights the issues and threats the watershed is currently facing.
As we await this year’s report card updates, we ask the second trivia question. In 2019, what were two of the main threats to the Eagle River and its tributaries? Hint: You can find the interactive report card at ARCG.is/1Ti45X
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In 1968, the U.S. passed the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which aims to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations, according to the National Park Service website. Currently, the act has protected more than 13,400 river miles, but that only accounts for less than 0.4% of our rivers in the U.S.
Here in Eagle County, the Watershed Council is working along with American Rivers and a diverse stakeholder group to designate 14 miles of a river as Wild & Scenic. Which river are we working to designate? Hint: It’s within the Upper Colorado River watershed.
Mní Wičóni is a native Lakota saying that means, “Water is life.” Water is crucial to this community, wildlife and the local economy. Here in the West, we rely on water from rivers for agriculture, industry, landscaping, ranching, recreation and more. What is the economic value of the Colorado River in its entirety? Hint: It’s a HUGE number and was quantified in a study by the organization American Rivers.
Western rivers also supply the water that keeps homes, parks and urbanized areas looking beautiful through landscaping. Visualize a home in your neighborhood, and what is a significant feature? More often than not, the front yard is made up largely of green turf grass, which can require up to 32 inches of rain per year to sustain.
However, we receive significantly less than that in the arid West and have to augment that water through irrigation. As our population increases and our rivers see less water at runoff, we need to keep in mind where we are using our water, because not all water gets returned to our streams. On average, how much rain does the town of Eagle receive on an annual basis?
We hope you enjoyed this quick round of river trivia with us! Email your answers to email@example.com for a chance to receive some Watershed Council swag. Answers to these questions will be shared in February’s e-newsletter — visit ERWC.org to sign up!
James Dilzell is the education and outreach coordinator for Eagle River Watershed Council. The Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education and projects.