Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project

Staff (from left to right): ​                                         Andréa Bachman, Emma Reesor and Heather Dutton (Board Member)

About Us
The RGHRP was formed as a response to a study completed in 2001 on the Rio Grande
River. The 2001 Study was prompted by local stakeholders due to a realized deterioration
​of the historical functions of the Rio Grande, which included the provision of high quality
water, healthy riparian areas, fish and wildlife habitat, and a functioning floodplain. The
2001 Study analyzed the condition of the riparian area and structures along a 91-mile reach
of theRio Grande and provided recommendations for improvement. The San Luis Valley
​Water Conservancy District sponsored the 2001 Study and the Colorado Water Conservation
Board (CWCB) acted as the Study's funder, with a $250,000 grant. In 2004 the need was
identified for a well-defined Rio Grande Watershed Restoration Strategic Plan (Strategic
Plan). Completed in 2007, the Strategic Plan highlighted the importance of continued efforts
to implement the recommendations from the 2001 Study. Since establishment, the RGHRP
has accrued a successful record of performing projects on the Rio Grande through
collaboration with landowners and local, state, and federal entities.

Task Force:
The Rio Grande Headwaters Task Force was formed to prioritize the recommendations from the 2001 Study and undertake a number of collaborative projects. The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District (SLVWCD) became the lead agency for the RGHRP.  Funds were secured from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 319 fund, the SLVWCD and the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) and other sources.  These funds were used for an education and outreach program, riparian and stream bank stabilization, debris removal from the river channel, and a county development design standard for possible use in the Rio Grande County land use codes. Such a strategic approach was necessary to maintain momentum for the project. 

Our Watershed:

The Rio Grande watershed in Colorado covers 8,200 square miles.  The Rio Grande Headwaters Project area includes the 200 miles of the Rio Grande Corridor in Colorado, including the 20-mile reach of the South Fork of the Rio Grande that originates near the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass, and Willow Creek, which originates near the Continental Divide on the north side of the basin. The Rio Grande enters the San Luis Valley, the largest intermountain basin in Colorado, at the town of South Fork.  The San Luis Valley is bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, the San Juan Mountains to the west and south, and the Cochetopa Hills to the north.

Guiding Documents:

2001 Study - for a copy of the full report, please contact us at

Lower Rio Grande Assessment - for more information on the assessment, click here.