The Roaring Fork Conservancy celebrated the opening of its new headquarters Friday with a special guest: Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Conservancy staff and board members were joined by Hickenlooper and former governor Bill Ritter in the grand opening of the River Center, a facility dedicated to watershed education and preservation.
Board President Pat McMahon presented Hickenlooper with a storymap of the Roaring Fork watershed by local artist Sarah Uhl. McMahon praised Hickenlooper’s work on the Colorado Water Plan, which was completed in 2015 and identifies how the state can meet future water demands.
“With your guidance, education became one of the top priorities in Colorado’s water plan,” McMahon said.
The new River Center includes a classroom and a laboratory to study water quality, as well as quick access to the Roaring Fork River.
Hickenlooper told the crowd that the work Roaring Fork Conservancy does is key to finding solutions to Colorado’s challenging water issues, as envisioned in the Water Plan.
“The key to it is that it’s a working document, a living document," Hickenlooper said. "I think that's a big part of what this river center stands for, is that we're going to continually improve things."
The new facility sits along the Roaring Fork and Two Rivers Road in Basalt, overlooking recently restored wetlands.
“Finding that relationship of how the river can remain healthy and also function naturally while having a lot of active use is really kind of the design challenge,” said Stephen Ellsperman, director of ecological planning for DHM Design, the firm that completed the restoration work. Ellsperman is also a Roaring Fork Conservancy board member.
The Roaring Fork Conservancy is now part of the team that’s working to restore and protect the watershed following the Lake Christine Fire.