COLORADO RIVER DAY
A Celebration of a Most Precious Resource
Saturday, July 25th is Colorado River Day marking the 94th anniversary of the Grand River being officially renamed the Colorado River in 1921. The Colorado River stretches for 1,450 miles from the central Rocky Mountains in the U.S. in a southwesterly direction across the Colorado Plateau to Lake Mead, before turning south into Mexico, emptying into the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora. Known for its dramatic canyons and whitewater rapids, the Colorado River is a vital source of water for agricultural and urban areas in seven U.S. and two Mexican states. The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce continues to work with corporate executives, water strategists and political leaders to share innovations, best practices and challenges on water conservation and sustainability to preserve the river.
A large portion of Flagstaff’s economy revolves around the direct and indirect positive benefits our community receives from the Colorado River. People travel from all over the world to take their first or tenth trip down the Colorado and use Flagstaff as their base of operations. We have fifteen non-consumptive river running operators that generate $37.5 million annually into our local economy. Flagstaff outfitters pay $2.4 million a year in franchise fees to the National Park Service. The indirect positive economic value is realized in full hotels and restaurants as well as grocery, fuel and other outdoor recreation supply companies which are valued business members of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber.
According to one of our partner organizations Protect the Flows, (www.ProtectFlows.com) the Colorado River would be the 19th largest employer on the Fortune 500 and creates $10.4 Billion in annual earnings, salaries, and wages while supporting 234,000 jobs across Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. A 2014 study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University estimated impact of Colorado River water loss for the entire Basin Region Economy to be at $1.4 Trillion.
This is a stark reminder of the importance of working together to find sustainable solutions in order to deal with the decade long drought while Lake Mead is at historic low levels. The enormous positives require us to be responsible stewards of this most precious resource.