Saving the Upper Colorado for the Next Generation

Written by: Bob Streb

Four-year-old Sam Streb sits atop his dad’s shoulders at a recent rally to stop water
diversions from the Upper Colorado River drainage.

photo courtesy Bob Streb

From: Bob Streb

To: Gov. John Hickenlooper

Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

My name is Bob Streb, and my little family lives in Minturn, Colorado, on the banks of the Eagle River—just one of the incredible places we enjoy in the mountains we call home. One of the other places is the Upper Colorado River. I am a fly-fishing guide, and I spend many days showing friends, both new and old, this very special place. The Upper Colorado River has become part of me, and I often feel a deep need to be in a boat feeling her currents under me. The loss of this freedom is a very real possibility if any more of her water is diverted. I understand this situation has economic implications for everyone, but I hope you understand the spititual and emotional impact it will have, also.

Four years ago, my life changed forever with the birth of my son, Sam. He now comes first in my life, without condition. We try to answer every question he asks, which can be challenging with a child whose main hobby is being curious. He is very aware of what his daddy does for a living and already knows how important water is. Sam has officially stopped flushing the toilet so he can “Help Save the Colorado.” His prayers, which used to include his dog and Spiderman, are now for our river. He has never asked to save Daddy’s job, only the river. Sam has no perspective on the economic impact this has on everyone, only a simple love for one of nature’s most incredible watersheds

We very rarely journey to Denver. We live in this state for its natural beauty, and the city just offers a view, not the feel we have grown to love. We felt a strong need to leave our mountains and come to one of the many rallies for the river on the steps of your office. I don’t like cities, and I especially don’t enjoy going there for a fight that seems has already been lost. Sam sat on my shoulders and screamed proudly, as loud as all the adults.

“Why are we yelling Dad?”

“So a man up there in his office hears us and does something to help, son.”

We painted our faces blue, like water. That was not an attempt to hide our identities. It was so we had no resemblence to the generations before us that contributed to so much destruction of nature all over the great American West. My family has no desire to be recognized as part of a generation that destroys the Colorado River. I hope you feel the same way. I hope you are not remembered as the Governor who sucked the Colorado River dry. I do not envy the position you are in and know how hard it must be, but know there are choices and answers that will help. Little Sam has already figured one way out, so if need be I am sure he is willing to sit with you and figure this whole mess out.

All of us who enjoy that river hope you will at least slow the process down some more, absorb all the data, explore every option and educate your fellow state officials on all the facts. Conservation of water is the way. Conservation will lead to preservation of this place. Our four-year-old already understands how to help do his part, and now its your turn to lead by example. I am blown away at the realization of how many people in this state just believe that water comes from the tap. Knowledge is power, and you currently sit in a seat fit to educate the growing Front Range on how valuable a resource water is and where it comes from. This river can not give anymore of her blood and continue to be the heart of this state’s image. I know some look at the mountains when they think of this state, but last I checked there isn’t one named Colorado. There is a wonderful body of water with its name, though.

All things start at the top, sir, and everything flows downstream. . .or at least they should.


Bob Streb

Bob Streb is a longtime fly-fishing guide in Vail Valley, and he blogs at Bobber Talk. For more information on the fight to protect the Upper Colorado, visit Defend the Upper Colorado.

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