Join Yampa Valley Sustainability Council for this free presentation on snowpack, river health, and the impacts of climate change.
Orla Bannan, Strategic Engagement Manager for Western Resource Advocates, will be discussing snowpack in Colorado. Snowpack in Colorado is essential to creating healthy flowing rivers that support recreation, tourism, and habitat for thousands of species. Communities also rely on the snowpack to fill reservoirs that supply cities and towns with a steady supply of drinking water all year-round. Warmer temperatures during winter months due to increased greenhouse gases are a major factor in this downward trend in snowpack. However, the impact of climate change on snowpack in Colorado is felt not only during winter months. Less snowpack means less water in our rivers and streams during the spring and more intense droughts during the summer.
Western Resource Advocates works to protect the West’s land, air, and water so that our communities thrive in balance with nature. WRA’s team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region.
As the Strategic Engagement Manager for the Healthy Rivers Program at Western Resource Advocates, Orla works to address water scarcity issues in Colorado by encouraging regional water boards to adopt conservation-oriented management approaches, and by helping emerging leaders in local communities get more involved in water decision-making. She works closely with decision makers and partner organizations in Colorado to ensure statewide water issues are addressed in a sustainable way for all constituents.
Prior to joining Western Resource Advocates in 2017, Orla spent more than eight years working as an in-house attorney for Vail Resorts, where her work addressed a wide range of land use and natural resource issues in the Mountain West. Before joining Vail Resorts, Orla worked for several years as a real estate attorney in New York City.
The second part of the presentation will focus on the beauty in a free-flowing, snowpack-dependent river like the Yampa is that it experiences extreme high flows and low flows unlike rivers with trans-mountain diversions that export native flow to other basins. But are these extremes good or bad for our river? And what will happen if the extreme highs happen sooner in the season or if the low flows get increasingly lower and hotter with the influence of climate change?
Kelly Romero-Heaney will discuss how the 2018 Yampa River Health Assessment and Streamflow Management Plan attempted to answer these questions and how water managers throughout the state are taking a holistic approach to stream health management. She will share the findings of recent stream temperature-stream flow analyses for the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs and what the city and its partners, like YVSC, are doing to prepare our river for the influence of climate change in the coming decade.
Kelly has endeavored to understand, protect, and enhance the health of the Yampa River Watershed throughout her 18-year career in watershed management, environmental compliance, and water supply planning. As the Water Resources Manager for the City of Steamboat Springs she strives to integrate the diverse water demands of a community that relies on the river for its municipal and recreational needs while supporting the unique ecosystem of a free-flowing river. As a sixth-generation Colorado native, Kelly’s passion for western rivers stems from her hope to see her state move into a more resilient water future—one that provides for healthy streams amid growing communities.
For more information on this free event, please see event details below.