Gunnison River Basin News

Your Source for Information on Water Resources in the Gunnison River Basin
February 2021
 Plan(t)ing ahead                                         

Kathleen’s Korner
Dear Friends of the Gunnison River Basin,
Like so much in life, raising cattle in the Upper Gunnison Basin is all about the annual cycle.  
Anticipation is now growing; what we’ve worked for all year is about to come to fruition. The mother cows and heifers are getting heavy; we know the baby calves are about to start coming; dozens and dozens of them. After lots of preparation: ranchers are ready with everything moved, cleaned, plowed, purchased.  However, nothing can really prepare the thousands of stock men and women for the exhaustion they are going to face over the next two months. Nothing can take away the incessant worry; when a heifer takes too long, the chattering of coyotes nearby, the dangerous swings in temperature that endanger the brand new lives. All this requires around-the-clock vigilance, checking every four hours, hoping that the first-time calf heifers will deliver without complication and praying that the young mothers care for their near- helpless offspring. 

The annual cycle of life in the Lower Gunnison is similarly fraught with anticipation and risk: with farmers cautiously looking upcountry at the high elevation snowpack; fretting over planting decisions, studying financing, market rates and production objectives. Will runoff be sufficient? Will prices cover the investment risk? How will things vary from the historical hydro-climatic cycles? 

So to succeed in this business – yes, agriculture is a business – producers have to not only understand these complicated, interconnected issues, but they need to keep an eye on the big picture, as well. There are many threats with pending sage grouse litigation, falling Lake Powell storage levels, speculative purchase of ag lands and water rights and an aging producer population with few young folks interested in pursuing the agricultural lifestyle. These overarching issues add stress to seasonal decision-making and significantly impact the long-term viability of Gunnison Basin agri-business. 

Despite these threats ad increasing uncertainties, I remain hopeful. As spring approaches, I find myself being thankful for the community support for the industry that I love. Many non-producers are working for it to succeed, evidenced by the actions of the passionate members of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable and the water community. These dedicated folks spend countless hours seeking creative solutions for these issues.  Their work is essential and appreciated, because right now the ranchers and the farmers are singularly focused on the annual cycle that defines their ways of life.


Kathleen Curry, Chair
Gunnison Basin Roundtable
[email protected]


Virtual Upcoming Events
Ag Irrigation Improvement Projects & Funding Sources, March 10, 12:00-1:00pm
Gunnison Basin Roundtable March 15, 4:00-6:30pm 
The Gunnison Basin Roundtable is one of nine state-wide organizations established to facilitate discussions on water management and strive for locally-driven collaborative solutions. Your participation is encouraged. 
Colorado Water Conservation Board Meeting March 11 & 12 

Recent Water News
Upper Colorado River Drought Plan Triggered for First Time 
Gold Medal Waters? 
Record Low Lake Powell and Bad 2021 Drought Forecast Sets Stage for Water Cuts
Colorado’s Ornery, Independent Water Guardians Finally Agree on One Thing: Wall Street Can Look Elsewhere

Hedge Funds Eye Water Markets That Could Net Billions, as Levels Drop in Lake Powell
No Chico Brush Report – Executive Summary
Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership Annual Report  

Funding Opportunities in the Gunnison River Basin
Check out the funding page on our website for info on the NEW Colorado River District’s Partnership Project Funding Program, Colorado Water Plan Grants, US Department of Agriculture federal grants and loans, and Colorado Water Conservation Board state grants and loans.

River Resources and Social Media Connections
River levels and real-time data, Facebook and Twitter
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We are always looking for feedback, water news & event information. Please send thoughts & contributions to [email protected]. Thank you!