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The Colorado River is America’s most threatened; ranchers work to fight climate change

The Colorado River is America’s most threatened; ranchers work to fight climate change

The Colorado River, which is a major source of freshwater for more than 40 million people in seven southwest states and parts of northern Mexico has lost 20% of its water level over the past 22 year. Environmentalists predict that it will get worse.

Farmers and other agricultural workers have been particularly affected by the water loss, as the fields have dried up, making cultivation of crops and cattle more difficult.

“We’ve been working on some aspects of this for over two decades. We kind of saw it coming,” Paul Bruchez from Colorado, a fifth-generation rancher, told ABC News.

Now, Bruchez, his family, ranchers, farmers, and others are collaborating with conservationists in order to adapt to the changing environment. They hope to repair some of the damage and encourage others to do the same before it’s too late.

You can see the complete report on Colorado River state on ABC News Live Prime on Monday, April 18, 7 PM ET/6 PM.

Twenty-three year drought conditions in Southwest and West have caused water levels to drop at Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover reservoirs. According to American Rivers (a non-profit organization), the Colorado River is now among the top 10 most endangered rivers in the country.

“We’re confronted with this, this new reality in which we have to learn how to live with less water,” Matt Rice (southwest regional director for American Rivers) told ABC News.

Bruchez said ranchers have been hurt because there isn’t enough freshwater for livestock to eat. Because of poor land conditions, his family had to sell half its livestock.

He stated, “Mother Nature’s key to our business”

Bruchez, who is a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board has implemented ecological projects to mitigate and restore the river.

Bruchez, in collaboration with conservationists installed five artificial riffles on a 12-mile stretch along the river. The riffles are made of cobbles and can be found in areas where the river cascades down. They promote irrigation and invertebrate development at low water levels.

He said, “It’s this region’s adaptation for climate change.”

Bruchez’s family also works to restore the soil to make the most of the water it gets.

Doug Bruchez worked with his brother in bringing in specialized plants, forages, and other crops that are more suited to the fields surrounding the river.

Doug Bruchez stated to ABC News that he is looking for drought-resistant species and that plants will require less water.

Paul Bruchez claimed that the livestock have enjoyed their feeds since his family rebuilt a meadow with drought-resistant flora.

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He said, “The feed has a higher nutritional value and we use them to help us manage the soil.”

Rice stated that these Colorado River restorations have “quantifiably improved habitat and the environmental health” of the river.

“We are actually implementing these in real-time, right now. It would have a huge impact on the communities downstream, as well as the agricultural communities. [would have]Rice stated that the environment has a huge impact.

Bruchez said he hopes to expand these programs in the Colorado River Basin and improve the water- and soil conditions throughout Southwest.

Bruchez stated that his outreach efforts were both an honor as well as terrifying, but that they are ultimately able to make a difference.

He said, “These are difficult conversations when people realize survival will require adaptation.” “Without adaptation we wouldn’t have been here for our generation,” he said. [and]The generation that follows us.”

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