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The Crystal: What Would the River Say?

One of the last free-flowing rivers in Colorado, the Crystal is now threatened by two proposed dam projects that would transform its rushing waters. In a Yale Environment 360 video, filmmaker Pete McBride, who grew up along the river’s banks, captures the breathtaking beauty of the Crystal and shows why it should remain wild and free.

The Crystal River rises in the Maroon Bells Wilderness high in the Rockies and flows for more than 30 miles, down from mountain forests and alpine meadows and through red-rock canyons and lush green valleys. Prime habitat for rainbow trout and mountain whitefish, it is one of the last remaining free-flowing rivers in Colorado. 

But the Crystal is also in danger – its future clouded by two proposed dams and a water-diversion project that would transform its rushing waters. The conservation group American Rivers last month listed the Crystal as one of the top 10 Most Endangered Rivers in the U.S. (it was number 8) and called on local officials to reject the dam proposals and support permanent protection of the Crystal as a federal Wild and Scenic River.

Filmmaker Pete McBride grew up along the banks of the Crystal River. In this Yale Environment 360 video, he captures the breathtaking beauty of the Crystal and shows why it should remain wild and free.