Land Use on the Green River: Changing Emphasis, Changing Times

Boedicea Fox

For almost forty-five years, Flaming Gorge Dam has impacted the Green River—a legacy from the early twentieth century fashion of routing water to spur the growth of agricultural in the arid west. The arrangement worked well as a strategy for settling the west but through scientific insights and a growing public environmental awareness, a new goal of minimizing the ecological impact of the dam has been introduced. Additional values have now emerged, which compete with the original emphasis on water storage and power production, and this can be seen in the progression of stakeholders on the river, downstream from the dam. Recreation and tourism have become popular and economically important activities in the area. In addition, the regulation of the Green River has had a profound impact on native fish, now rare and endangered, and the area of the river below the Yampa confluence has become a vital refuge for species recovery. Society’s changing values and economics will complicate future management of the river, and careful examination of the costs and benefits of the dam will become an important management strategy.