USU scientist featured in TV documentary ‘Green River: Divided Waters’

LOGAN – It’s called the West’s last wild river but the Green River, along with its major tributaries, is facing increasing development pressure. Growing cities in Utah and Colorado are competing with downstream neighbors, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles, for scarce water and energy supplies. The river, which begins in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains and flows more than 700 miles through Colorado to its confluence with the Colorado River in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, is the subject of a new documentary that debuts Nov. 9 on Utah’s KUED Public Television, Channel 7. “Utahns have important choices before them when it comes to the Green River,” says Utah State University professor Jack Schmidt, who is among the experts tapped to comment on the river’s colorful history and precarious future in “Green River: Divided Waters. “Do we want a relatively wild river that is home to a native aquatic and riparian ecosystem? Do we want increased water deliveries to the Wasatch Front, Colorado’s Front Range, irrigation and oil shale refining and power production?” Utahns can have whatever kind of river they want, he says, “but we can’t have it all.” The hour-long documentary, produced by KUED’s Nancy Green, touches on John Wesley Powell’s first expedition of the river in 1869, the Echo Park Dam controversy, the impact of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and recent conflicts over oil shale and gas development. “Of the three large limbs of the Colorado River system – the Green, the upper Colorado and the San Juan – the Green River is the most wild, home to the healthiest fishery and boasts national treasures of recreational boating,” says Schmidt, faculty member in the College of Natural Resources’ Department of Watershed Resources and longtime student of the river. “The Green River is certainly Utah’s greatest river.” Flaming Gorge Dam created a significant artificial recreational resource with its reservoir and its tailwater trout fishery, he says, but most of the Green River features an abundance of native and endemic natural resources, including endangered fishery, cottonwood gallery forests and whitewater boating. Until recently, the Green River has been largely spared from widespread development, because the primary users of its water are located far downstream in Arizona, Nevada and California. But Schmidt warns that the river’s unique resources are threatened by new proposals to divert water away from the river’s mainstem or even beyond the boundary of the watershed. “Green River: Divided Waters” airs at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, and again at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15, on KUED HD Channel 7.1 and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, on KUED World Channel 7.2. Schmidt, director of Water@USU and the USU-based Intermountain Center for River Rehabilitation and Restoration, conducts research efforts focused on understanding the factors that determine the form of river channels and floodplains. Through frequent collaborations with state and federal agencies, his findings have guided management decisions for major western river systems, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Snake rivers. He travels to Mexico in December as a participant in continued efforts between U.S. and Mexico’s governments aimed at conservation of the Big Bend ecosystem along the countries’ respective borders. Related Links “Green River: Divided Waters,” KUED

<a href=””>http://www.kued.org/?area=programs&amp;action=seriesDetails&amp;id=19667</a>

USU Department of Watershed Sciences

<a href=””>http://www.kued.org/?area=programs&amp;action=seriesDetails&amp;id=19667</a>

USU College of Natural Resources

<a href=””>http://www.cnr.usu.edu/</a>

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