Land & Environment

Colorado River Collaborative Established to Expand Media Coverage of Challenges Faced in the Basin

By Miranda Lorenc |

The Colorado River on April 25, 2024.

Journalists, researchers, and Colorado River experts gathered at the Utah State University Moab campus in late April to launch the Colorado River Collaborative, a statewide media group to help train, inform, and support news organizations in telling solutions-focused, local-perspective news stories on the Colorado River. The group’s efforts will significantly expand Utah-based coverage of another critical water issue in the state.

“USU’s Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air is thrilled to partner together to create this new group,” said Anna McEntire, managing director of the institute. “We are excited to see additional attention paid to an issue that’s often overlooked, especially in northern Utah.”

The group is based on the previous success of the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, which has been responsible for much of the local and shared coverage of Great Salt Lake in the past two years. The collaborative’s work resulted in more than 600 stories and articles over the past two years and received national recognition.

“If I were to name the two most significant water challenges in Utah, they would easily be the Great Salt Lake and the Colorado River,” said Brian Steed, executive director of USU’s Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air. “Right now, most everyone in Utah knows about the threat of toxic dust from the Great Salt Lake, but far fewer understand the threat of not enough water in the Colorado River. These are challenges we’re going to have to figure out, and we’ll need as much research, information, coordination, and awareness as we can get.”

Newsroom members of the Colorado River Collaborative include Deseret News, Fox 13,, KSL TV, KUER, Moab Times-Independent, PBS Utah, RadioWest, The Salt Lake Tribune, St. George News, and Utah Public Radio. USU’s Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air is providing reporters resources for content creation. Editorial decisions are made independently by each individual newsroom.

At the Moab workshop, media members heard from more than a dozen speakers and panelists from the Colorado River Authority of Utah, local agricultural producers, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Washington County Water Conservancy District, and The Water Desk (UC Boulder). They shared their expertise and thoughts on the way forward in managing the river.

USU researchers Jack Schmidt, Phaedra Budy, and Burdette Barker also shared their work on Colorado River challenges and solutions in areas of policy, management, endangered fish and wildlife, and agricultural irrigation. Media members were briefed on the work of 25 additional USU researchers.

“These next few years will be critical to the future of Utah, and our collective relationship with water in the West,” said McEntire. “We value the relationship we’ve had with journalists and other members of the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, and now this new Colorado River Collaborative.”

Recent articles written by the Colorado River Collaborative:

The Colorado River is vital in Utah. Here's why it's going to get even more publicity (KSL)

The Colorado River just called you for help. Will you answer? (Deseret News)

The Times-Independent joins Colorado River collaborative (The Times-Independent)

Why Colorado River basin states are split on long-term plan to manage its water (KSL)

Here's why you will be hearing a lot more about the Colorado River (Utah Public Radio)

St. George News joins Colorado River Collaborative to expand coverage of Southern Utah’s water challenges (St. George News)

Stakes, risks ahead of Colorado River Compact expiration (FOX 13)

Why Utahns should care about the Colorado River (The Salt Lake Tribune)


Miranda Lorenc
Communications and Marketing Assistant
Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air


Anna McEntire
Managing Director
Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air
(435) 881-1323


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