Fifth annual Poudre River Forum to be held Feb. 2

Contact for Reporters:
Joanne Littlefield

The Poudre River means different things to different people. A craft brewer, a farmer, a rafter, an ecologist and an urban water manager all have different perspectives on the river. And those who simply enjoy biking along the trail–whether through Fort Collins, Windsor or Greeley–have an even different perspective. It’s fitting, then, that ‘listening to understand’ is the theme for this year’s Poudre River Forum.

The Cache la Poudre River begins in the mountains west of Fort Collins and empties into the South Platte River just east of Greeley. Along its route, the river provides drinking water to more than 365,000 people, irrigates crops and lawns, and is the site of many recreational activities. The forum focuses on building collaborative relationships and understanding among the rivers’ users and those concerned about its health.

Scheduled for Friday, Feb. 2, the fifth-annual event will bring together all those interested in the Poudre River, from communities stretching from the mountains to the Poudre’s confluence.  The  Forum is being held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Island Grove Events Center, 501 N. 14th Ave., Greeley.

The Poudre River Forum is organized by the Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group (PRTI). Pre-registration is required for all participants and includes breakfast and lunch.

“The forum embodies the group’s mission–to work toward improving the health of the river while respecting that it is a working river–providing a wide variety of economic benefits,” said Reagan Waskom, director of CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

Martin Carcasson, professor for the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University, will present “Can ‘Listening to Understand’ Make our Water Talk More Productive?” to kick off the event and discuss how building relationships with those outside our own value structure can break down water issue polarization.

Flows, urban growth, Greeley water history

The fast-growing communities within Northern Colorado make smart water planning a priority, and a panel of presenters will discuss approaches to water planning and progress underway toward “growing water smart.” Attendees will also hear from Wellington dairyman Jon Slutsky about what farmers are currently doing to reduce pollution of the Poudre River from nutrients. This will include discussion about how voluntary re-timing of operations on Poudre farms is improving air and water quality in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A forthcoming water history book featuring the Poudre River brings back retired Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs as the event’s keynote speaker.  Hobbs is joined by Michael Welsh, a history professor at the University of Northern Colorado, who is co-authoring the book that describes how Greeley’s water history helped shape prior appropriation throughout the west as we know it today.

“We are pleased that the Poudre River Forum is once again being staged in Greeley,” said Greeley City Manager Roy Otto. A lot of people think the Poudre River stops at I-25, but the Poudre is a key part of Greeley’s history and we are quite proud of that.”

‘As the Poudre Flows’ is the theme of an afternoon panel of “lightning speakers” who will each tell a story pertinent to the question of Poudre flows, and offer contrasting views about what can improve and what can damage them. Storytellers include John Kolanze, former legal counsel to the City of Greeley; Ellen Wohl, CSU Geosciences professor; Dan Brown, legal counsel for the Cache La Poudre Water Users Association; Karlyn Armstrong, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Water Projects Mitigation Coordinator; Kurt Fausch, stream ecologist and CSU professor emeritus; and Ken Kehmeier, retired from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

A guided active listening exercise follows the lively panel discussion so that attendees may listen to understand their table’s perspectives on Poudre flows.

Poudre Splashes and Pioneer Award

The all-day forum also includes “Poudre Splashes,” 10 different spotlights about what various groups and individuals have accomplished on the Poudre in 2017; interactive audience polls; the presentation of the first-annual Poudre Pioneer Award; and over two dozen Poudre-focused displays from community agencies and organizations. The day concludes with a social hour featuring beer, soda, and water-themed door prizes.

Registration is $60 and includes breakfast and lunch. Scholarships for students and reduced rates are available. The deadline to register is Wednesday, January 31 at

For more information, contact event coordinator MaryLou Smith at or 970-491-5899.