Projects Eligible for Federal Resources Following Critical Conservation Area Designation
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet met with local stakeholders in Montrose to hear about their conservation project proposals that are now eligible for federal funding following the Critical Conservation Area (CCA) designation for the Colorado River Basin.
The Upper Colorado River Basin was one of eight areas designated as a CCA by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The RCPP was a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill’s conservation title that Bennet helped write.
“As the headwaters for 20 states, water from the Colorado River is in high demand,” Bennet said. “With growing populations across the West and persistent drought conditions, we need to conserve these precious resources to ensure future generations have the water they need. These projects will help sustain the river for all of its uses into the future.”
The designation will provide producers in the Colorado River basin with necessary resources and funding to implement conservation projects and increase the sustainability of regional water, soil, wildlife, and related natural resources. In the face of hotter, drier conditions and the state’s growing population, it is becoming increasingly challenging for the river basin to meet agricultural, recreational, and municipal demands.
The designation has the support of the Colorado River District, Mesa County Commissioners, Dolores Water Conservancy District, Denver Water, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Southwest Water Conservation District, and other groups around the state.
The RCPP was created under the new conservation title of the 2014 Farm Bill, which Bennet and Tipton helped craft as respective members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. Bennet was also a member of the conference committee convened to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill, and he is the Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, which has jurisdiction over the RCPP Program.