This has been a big year for our effort to influence management of Lake Powell and the hydrological system that is the lifeblood of so many communities in the West. But as we watched reservoir levels drop to startlingly low levels, it became clear that action was necessary. Longtime members of the BlueRibbon Coalition will remember the work we did in the early 2000s to protect personal watercraft access to Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Those fights involved litigation, advocacy, and a lot of support from the recreation users and business community surrounding the lakes.

This article from our archives gives a good sampling of what was at stake back then:

There’s clearly more at stake now, and we’re just as ready to go the distance to preserve the recreation experiences and economic benefits of these reservoirs – just like we did in the past.

In the early part of 2022 we focused on building a strong grassroots movement, and we rallied 10,000s of supporters. Our goal is to eventually mobilize 100,000s of users around these issues and eventually reach a sizable portion of the 10s of millions of users who recreate on our reservoirs.

With this level of support we were able to request to be a partner NGO with the Bureau of Reclamation on and planing issues related to the lakes. We have been included in these discussion and attended dozens of meetings.

Then we developed our Path to 3588’ Plan to stabilize, refill, and rationally manage Lake Powell and Lake Mead during drought conditions, and we’ve helped mobilize thousands of comments in support of this plan.

We’ve engaged with policy makers at all levels to educate them about our plan and our movement. We’ve advised citizens to become better advocates for our cause. We’ve been featured in media stories about these issues. We’ve also made a sincere effort to connect with local businesses in Page, Hanksville, Boulder City, Kanab, Overton, and the many other small towns that benefit immensely from the recreation and water sports economy. 

And we’re just getting started. 

We’re excited to announce that a generous donor has a made a large end-of-year contribution that will enable a donation match of up to $40,000.

By making a donation in the next 24 hours, you will be doubling your impact to support our fight to save Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

As a 501c3 charitable non-profit, donations to BlueRibbon Coalition are tax deductible, and December 31 is the last day to make your donation count for your 2022 taxes.

Those who donate to our efforts often ask what we do with the funds, and we believe that transparency is important. We pride ourselves on our ability to do a lot with a little and to stretch every dollar while also relying heavily on volunteers.

We also use our funding to make the following investments:

  • We have a phenomenal, professional staff that includes policy experts that attend meetings, read complicated agency planning documents, and educate our members and supporters on how to be strong advocates.
  • We invest in marketing to grow the grassroots movement necessary to have a strong public voice on these issues. This includes digital advocacy, print materials, and media outreach.
  • As was the case in the early 2000s, there is always the likelihood that litigation becomes necessary. So, we’re always building our legal fund to be prepared for any case where we need to seek resolution in the courts for decisions that hurt our members.
  • We engage in legislative advocacy.
  • We are gaining extensive knowledge of numerous small administrative issues that can improve the recreation experiences on these reservoirs, and we’re laying the groundwork to partners with management agencies to find better management solutions.
  • In 2023 we have plans to build our network of support with state and local water managers as they grapple with the changes that need to be made throughout the system. We’re building relationships with policy makers, investors, and engineers who are envisioning the boldest solutions to water management in the West. We have every intention of increasing the stature and scope of our movement, and our success will be directly related to the support we receive from you.

We wish we could take credit for the weather, but so far, 2023 is looking like it will be off to a good start. Even if we have an above average year for water runoff, we are still preparing to be a strong voice in any effort to reimagine changes to water management issues in the West. We are planning to be part of this process for years, because that is what it will take.

But that’s ok. To work on issues that take years to develop are always worth it. This is a picture of me taken in 1986 near Bullfrog at the launch of the John Atlantic Burr – the Lake Powell ferry that was named after my pioneer ancestor. My ancestors explored and settled the deserts of southern Utah. I’ve spent my life going to these places. I’m now working hard to make sure my kids have the same experience.

Everyone I talk to who supports our movement to fill Lake Powell and save Lake Mead have a similar heritage of experiences they cherish on these lakes and that they want to pass on to their children and grand children.

Like most people, I’ve often taken these experiences for granted and assumed they would always be there. I care too much about these experience to risk taking them for granted any longer.

I’m encouraged to be supported by thousands more who want to be part of this movement.

Happy New Year,

Ben Burr

Executive Director for BlueRibbon Coalition