Instream Flow Program, Celebrating 50 Years and Counting, to Add 25 Miles of Protected Stream in 2024

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On January 30, 2024, water partners from across Colorado gathered at Aurora’s Hyatt Regency to celebrate a historic milestone: 50 years of the Instream Flow ProgramThis critical program, managed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), secures instream flow water rights to protect and preserve the natural environment of streams and lakes. 


“The Instream Flow (ISF) Program has accomplished an incredible amount in the last five decades,” said Lauren Ris, CWCB Director. “We know this important work will continue for years to come, and this year is no exception: our Board approved several new stream locations during our first 2024 Board meeting that will help protect aquatic environments across Colorado.”


Last week, the CWCB Board declared intent to appropriate seven stream segments totaling nearly 25 miles, as well as one natural lake. Among the January 2024 ISF cohort was a 4.63-mile segment in Larimer County’s Williams Gulch (critical to greenback cutthroat trout recovery efforts), Lake County’s Titan Lake (home to boreal toad conservation efforts), and a 7.25-mile segment in Mesa County’s North Lobe Creek (containing self-sustaining populations of rainbow and brown trout). 


See below for the complete list of ISF locations approved during the January Board meeting:

  • Square Top Creek in Clear Creek County, Upper South Platte, Division 1. 1.08 miles.
  • Williams Gulch in Larimer County, Cache La Poudre, Division 1. 4.63 miles.
  • Deer Creek in Gunnison County, East-Taylor, Division 4. 3.38 miles.
  • North Lobe Creek in Mesa County, Lower Dolores, Division 4. 7.25 miles.
  • Splains Gulch in Gunnison County, East Taylor, Division 4. 2.48 miles.
  • Ways Gulch in Routt County, Upper Yampa, Division 6. 2.25 miles.
  • Wheeler Creek in Jackson County, Upper North Platte, Division 6. 3.22 miles.
  • Titan Lake in Lake County, Arkansas Headwaters.

“There are many competing demands for water in our state, so the ISF Program provides balance and allows us to legally protect water in streams and lakes,” said Rob Viehl, CWCB Stream and Lake Protection Section Chief. “The streams we are adding to our list of protected segments in 2024 support robust fish recovery efforts, protect complex riparian ecosystems, and safeguard important aquatic populations.”