Master Your Watershed

For those of you who wish to learn even more about your stream, watershed and/or ecosystems, there are plenty of resources available to you! If you are interested in learning more about these subjects, Colorado is a great place to learn. Because of the abundance of streams and rivers, our state is one of the leaders for research on riparian systems and restoration.

Colorado State University has many programs dedicated to water resources in both the Warner College of Natural Resources and the College of Engineering. The University itself, as well as its Extension program and Forest Service, offer publications, workshops and faculty contacts that you can contact to learn more. The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has great resources that discuss how forest fire mitigation can have a direct impact on stream health. We will discuss this relationship between forests and streams, as well as where to access these CSFS resources.

There are many books available in print and online about stream and river functions, riparian ecosystems, aquatic organisms and non-aquatic organisms. There are also a number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating and protecting these valuable natural resources. The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the Audubon Society are three national nonprofits that have local offices in Colorado. You can find educational material on their websites and you can also become involved with them by volunteering or attending local workshops. This is also a great way to meet other landowners who are trying to do their part to be good stream stewards.

As you learn more about these fields, you will likely find that you can find resources as basic or as technical and advanced as you wish. Finding resources that teach you new things is key to staying interested in the material.

On the following pages, we will take a more in-depth look at two of the most widely- accepted stream classification systems and how your stream relates to them. These systems are used by engineers, geomorphologists, environmental consultants, landscape architects and river constructors to better understand what a stream is doing. They then use this information to create plans and designs for stream restoration projects. Using an accepted classification system also allows for better communication between different professional fields and the range of offices you may interact with.