Scenic USA - Colorado

Crystal River

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Rattlesnake Gulch - Lee Vining, California

Photo by Paul Winters
Paul's High Country Aerie

   Colorado's rivers and streams, similar to this birds-eye-view of the Crystal River, have made it possible for a new civilization to survive in America's southwestern desert. Rocky Mountain streams, west of the Continental Divide, end up supplying 30 million people in seven states with water. Between years 2000 and 2006, the region saw a 10 percent boost in population. During that same period of time, the Colorado River flow has been below average in all but one year.
   Vanishing rainfall has sparked a renewed interest in a changing climate of America's western states. Researchers are quick to point out that the 20th century's precipitation was not the norm. Tree ring samples indicate drought and mega-drought was common in the past, with some periods lasting over two centuries. Drought damage is already evidenced in the Colorado Basin, with ravaging fires, beetle infestation and Dust Bowl-like conditions. Unchecked immigration population growth will only make matters worse.
   The Crystal River, appearing here as a thin ribbon, winds through the White River National Forest and Colorado's magnificent landscape. This scenic river can also be viewed as part of the lifeblood of the southwest desert. Scientists and a thirsty population will pin their hopes on the Pacific Ocean and desalination. A few may recall the struggles of past civilizations affected by similar drought.

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