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Pagosa Springs
Thursday, September 21, 2023

Club 20 to host Watershed Summit

By Mary Jo Coulehan | Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

We are grateful for the snow that Pagosa gets during the winter months. We should be grateful as that snowfall is our water supply during the other times of the year. 

The San Juan Headwaters also flow out of our surrounding mountains. With typically warmer temperatures, increasing population growth and increased recreational activity, water accessibility, not only in our community but all over the state, is a growing concern. 

Western Colorado houses all the headwaters for the state. Western communities all face threats such as wildfires, population growth and downstream water demands. As a region and state, we must collaborate to help address water and forest mitigation issues along with many other concerns.

On March 24 and 25, Club 20, an organization representing communities on the Western Slope of Colorado, will host the Watershed Summit in Grand Junction, Colo. While the event is held outside of our community, the conference is important enough that we felt it should be announced to our community. Pagosa has a number of water-related groups already working on our community’s water concerns and our water future. Perhaps some of these organizations’ representatives would be interested in attending. 

The event will be filled with guest speakers who are nationally and regionally renowned. Topics will include: impacts to communities across the West; elevating the value of watersheds to drive land management practices — impacts of unhealthy watersheds on the western communities; climate resilience; landscape sale projects: barriers, tools and scalability; vegetation management opportunities create fire suppression opportunities; modifying forest vegetation to protect water supply; and much more. 

There will be breakout sessions, panel discussions and the opportunity to speak with a number of experts in the field of forest, vegetation and water management. The summit will be held at Colorado Mesa University, or there is a Zoom meeting option so you can attend from the comfort of your office. 

You can register for the conference by visiting www.club20.org and clicking on the Upcoming Events tab. The cost for the event is $65 for the full day on Thursday including lunch and reception, and $45 for the half day on Friday including grab-and-go lunch. The Zoom registration is $25 for either day or only $35 for both days. 

Founded in 1953 by Western Slope business leaders, Club 20 was originally organized for the purpose of getting rural roads paved. At the time, the state of Colorado had been spending only 10 percent of its highway funds west of the Continental Divide, even though more than half the roads were there. With each community lobbying for its own roads, small towns were simply drowning each other out. It finally became clear that only by agreeing on a single priority list could all the counties be heard. 

The process worked. Within a few years, the state was spending 37 percent of its highway funds west of the divide and by the end of the 1950s finally had paved most of the major highways on the Western Slope. 

The organization continued to grow, incorporating in 1955, and began working on other issues of mutual concern to all the Western Slope communities. Its activities included water, agriculture, natural resources, energy issues including uranium in the ‘50s and oil shale in the ‘70s and, more recently, economic development, public lands, air service, tourism, energy, trails, recreation and telecommunications. 

A board of directors makes Club 20 policy, which includes voting membership for each of the 22 counties in Western Colorado. Each has an equal voice, their delegations elected by the members in each county. Management decisions are made by the executive committee, which is composed of the elected officers of the board of directors. 

Archuleta County, the Town of Pagosa Springs, Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation, the Chamber and other organizations and businesses are all members of Club 20. Mary Jo Coulehan is the Club 20 county board representative and also serves on the executive committee representing the Region 9 region. Todd Weaver is the first alternate and JR Ford the second alternate. There are many issues affecting our Western Slope community. 

If your business or you personally are interested in learning more about Club 20, the subcommittees and the issues that are addressed, please contact Coulehan at director@pagosachamber.com or at (970) 264-2360. 

We invite individuals and groups to learn more about how we can protect our forests, agricultural lands and water sources by attending this conference. Perhaps you or your organization would like to get more involved in some of the issues that are facing Western Colorado and have a voice at the table. To find out more about Club 20 membership, please contact Coulehan. 

Career Day rescheduled to March 8

The Chamber and community businesses have been working with Pagosa Springs High School to host Career Day 2022. This event includes over 20 businesses presenting on career opportunities to the entire high school. Not only do they describe possible careers, but they speak about career paths, education, certification and hiring opportunities. Businesses give half a day plus preparation time to help guide students who might be interested in particular fields of study or employment. 

Categories of interest include health sciences, technology, fine arts, forestry, emergency management, various business interests including entrepreneurship, business ownership and money management, building and other career trades. 

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