June 6, 2024 – Coyote Gulch

June 4, 2024

ALAMOSA, COLORADO – As I meandered toward Boulder for this week’s Getches-Wilkinson Center Colorado River Conference, I stopped this evening in Alamosa, Colorado, in the San Luis Valley. I love the backside ride, through the San Luis Valley and into the heart of the Rockies, and I broke it up into a few days this year to do some biking.

Long western drives have always been part of my process, quality thinking, and the San Luis Valley is a great writing prompt. It is wide, high, flat and a very good place to grow alfalfa and potatoes. (There’s a truckload of alfalfa in the Walmart parking lot next to my motel, on the way to a dairy somewhere – future burgers and pizza cheese.)

When the railroad and the Mormons arrived in the 1800s, they started growing a lot of stuff for export, which reduced the flow of the Rio Grande, which, through a series of domino effects, led to us having water in central New Mexico from the Colorado River. through the San Juan-Chama Project, which is why I’m going to Boulder. For lack of a nail….


It’s the connection between San Juan and Chama—critical to Albuquerque’s water supply—that got me started working on Colorado River issues nearly two decades ago, leading to a pair of books (Water is something to fight about, Science be damned) a growing list of academic publications, and this crazy blog, which Emily Guerin happily calls “influential”! The second book was a collaboration with Eric Kuhn, and over the years we worked on it, we met more than once at the Holiday Inn Express in Alamosa, halfway between his home in Glenwood Springs and mine in Albuquerque, tucked away in the breakfast room working. through chapters. Is it possible to have fond memories of a Holiday Inn Express breakfast room? I do.

The collaboration continues, with my Utton Center colleague Rin Tara, with a pair of new articles exploring the history of the development of the Upper Colorado River Compact and its implications for 21st century river management. A preprint of the first of the two articles, a deep dive into negotiation history, was published this weekend and I have already blogged about it.

A preprint of the second article, Unfinished Business: 21st Century Questions Posed by Ambiguities in the Upper Colorado River Compact and the Law of the River, appeared this morning. It is our attempt to understand the modern implications of that history for 21st century river management:

All three of us will be in Boulder for Getches Wilkinson. Say hello, we’d like to talk about this stuff!

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