Groups Praise New Colorado Law to Protect Vulnerable Rivers, Streams

June 12, 2009 by Will Leave a reply »

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DENVER, June 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

Environmental Defense Fund called legislation signed into law today by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to protect Colorado‘s vulnerable rivers and streams “a national model for protecting the iconic and vulnerable waterways of the west.”

The bill creates a new, refundable income tax credit for farmers and ranchers who donate their water to protect rivers and streams in the state. A broad coalition of groups supported the legislation, including Environmental Defense Fund, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Water Trust, Trout Unlimited, and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

“By enacting this legislation, Colorado is taking the lead in crafting and implementing incentives to encourage conservation of our most precious resources and creating a national model for protecting the iconic and vulnerable waterways of the west,” said Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Environmental Defense Fund and a former vice chairman of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee in the Colorado Senate, who attended the bill signing. “This law gives Colorado’s farmers and ranchers the opportunity to build partnerships with the state and the conservation community to protect critical stream reaches and avoid the often-draconian implications of more Endangered Species Act listings.”

Passed by the legislature during the 2009 session, House Bill 1067 creates a new incentive for individuals to contribute to the long-term health of important stretches of stream in all of Colorado’s river basins. Under current law, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) can receive donations of water rights to protect stream flows and benefit the environment. The legislation authorizes the Colorado Water Conservation Board to award tax credit certificates to donors of water rights that the Board deems worthy of such consideration. The Board negotiates the tax credit values with the water right donor.

“Giving Colorado’s family farmers more options in deciding how to benefit from their property will help our agricultural communities,” said Kent Peppler, President of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “As good land stewards, family farmers will look favorably upon this program as an alternative to selling their rights to water developers who often export the water to urban and suburban parts of the state.”

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