To say that the Clear Creek Watershed is unique is an understatement. It was home of the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush and is now home to several historic byways and districts with museums, tourist mines and landmarks. With a 14,000 foot mountain range as its western boundary and approximately 60 linear miles of mainstem river water, it hosts a variety of natural habitats and wildlife populations.
The watershed provides water to people for agriculture, industry, energy production and drinking. It offers plentiful year-round recreational opportunitieshiking, biking, skiing, rafting, fishing, climbing, camping, 4-wheeling and more. It also offers spas, shops, restaurants, train rides and casinos.
The world-renowned Henderson Mine, Colorado School of Mines, Coors Brewing Company and National Renewable Energy Laboratory are located here. As a major transportation corridor and Gateway to Western Colorado, Clear Creek Watershed is visited and traveled through by millions of people each year. Many diverse communitiesmountain rural to urban to wildlandscall this watershed home.
A century and a half of human impact—including mining, irrigation, transportation, industrialization and urbanization—has had cumulative, negative impactson the mainstem and tributaries of Clear Creek. 11 of Clear Creek’s 21 segments are designated as water quality impaired by the State of Colorado. While numerous groups, agencies and individuals have been working to improve the quality of Clear Creek since the early 1980s, there is still progress to be made. As shown here, the water from the Aorta Seep is acidic and heavily metals-laden. This is a closed mine adit for which there is no Potentially Responsible Party (PRP).
Because the downward flow of water through a watershed carries with it the effects of nature and human activity, concern for a river’s health must include concern for the health of the entire watershed. The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF) believes that without a more sustainable approach to resource management in the overall watershed, future pressures will cause further degradation. Based on stakeholder input, the most imminent threats to the sustainability of the Clear Creek Watershed are:
To promote sustainable natural resource management throughout the Clear Creek Watershed and serve as a model for the arid mountain west.