Waterfall Creek flowing through the proposed Sheep Mountain Special Management Area (John Richter Photography)

One of the last free-flowing rivers in the West, the San Miguel is experiencing increasing threats from drought conditions becoming the norm, the mining industry and potential development. SMA is involved in several efforts to improve the quality and flows of the San Miguel and middle Dolores Rivers. We are the interim chair of the San Miguel Watershed Coalition and also on the board for the Dolores River Coalition.

We serve as the watchdog of water quality on the San Miguel, recently pursuing the owner of the Silver Bells tailing pile on the Howard Fork in a Clean Water Act case that required them to initiate an aggressive monitoring program to determine the best solution to clean up water quality coming from the site. We are also fighting to get a Wild and Scenic designation for the San Miguel River.

In 2012, SMA negotiated a legal settlement to reduce six proposed water reservoirs on the San Miguel River down to one or two, demand for which must be verified within five years by Montrose County. Montrose County’s water rights filing was a huge water grab, which if left unchallenged, would have had severe impacts on an already-stressed river system.

© Sheep Mountain Alliance