Walton Family Donates Millions To River Restoration

Jul 6, 2017

Credit Colorado River Water Users Association

The Walton Family Foundation has announced a plan to give out $35 million to help protect the Colorado and Mississippi Rivers. $20 million of that will go to restoration of the Colorado River, part of which originates in the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming.

The foundation's Colorado River director Ted Kowalski said organizations like Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and the Nature Conservancy will be able to receive grants for projects to help save the river.

The lower stretch of the Colorado is considered the most endangered river in the U.S. because many states use more water than they’ve been allocated, leaving little for river species to thrive in.

Kowalski said one way upper basin states like Wyoming can help is by improving how they manage irrigation.

“One really interesting program we support has benefits to both agriculture as well as to the environment, and that is helping to replace existing head gates that maybe are old fashioned and that dam up the entire river across the river bank and that have difficulty for fish, for fish passage, and the like.” 

Wyoming's U.S. Senator John Barrasso has proposed a bill to expand a large storage facility on the Green River by 100,000 acre feet. Kowalski said, the Walton Family Foundation supports the project, if done right.

“Fontanelle [Reservoir] has a proposal in place to expand the amount of storage. And we believe that's a good proposal if it can be done in a way that's not detrimental to, or can actually improve, the fishery habitat below Fontanelle Reservoir.” 

Kowalski said these funds could potentially help do that. The Walton Family Foundation is one of the charities sponsored by Walmart.