Inspiring Students and Restoring River Habitat

RiversEdge West Press Release
June 26th, 2019
Contact: Cara Kukuraitis | RiversEdge West
Community Outreach and Education Coordinator
Inspiring Students and Restoring River Habitat
RiversEdge West receives $20,000 from the Xcel Energy Foundation to improve riverside habitat and inspire students in the Grand Valley
June 19, 2019 – RiversEdge West (REW), a Grand Junction-based nonprofit focused on restoring riverside lands, was awarded $20,000 from the Xcel Energy Foundation in June 2019 to support the coordination of the REW-led Desert Rivers Collaborative (DRC) and to inspire more than 1,500 students and community members through REW’s river education program.
“Our River Education Program and Desert Rivers Collaborative rely on support from the community and corporate partners such as the Xcel Energy Foundation,” said Cara Kukuraitis, Director of Community Outreach and Education for RiversEdge West. “Thanks to Xcel, we’ll be able to connect an estimated 1,500 students this year with rivers and inspire them to care for these places for years to come. These funds will also allow us to coordinate restoration work that will improve riverside habitat in the Grand Valley.”
REW’s River Education Program is charged with engaging Mesa County students in hands-on activities, both in the classroom and outdoors, that demonstrate the importance of healthy rivers and riparian (riverside) habitat in their community. The program currently engages over 1,500 students and community members each year in educational river-related activities.
The DRC focuses on the Colorado River in the Grand Valley region, which encompasses Grand Junction, Clifton, Palisade, and Fruita. Projects also span the lower Gunnison River from its confluence with the Colorado River to Delta. REW formed the DRC in 2012 to provide a coordinated platform for community partnerships to protect, restore, and maintain native river corridor habitat in Mesa & Delta counties for the benefit of overall river health and improved local communities. Over the last several years, approximately 1,300 acres of riparian (riverside) restoration has been addressed by the DRC.
Specifically, REW will use the funds from the Xcel Energy Foundation to:
  • Provide technical assistance to riparian restoration partners for on-the-ground project prioritization and implementation at 10 active management sites in the Grand Valley along the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, including Skippers Island, several sections of the James M. Robb CO River State Park (e.g. Connected Lakes, 29 Rd, Island Acres), and Bureau of Reclamation properties.
  • Increase riparian restoration collaboration with private landowners in the Grand Valley.
  • Hire interns who will carry out key project monitoring, resprout treatment, and weed spraying on state parks and local government properties.
  • Continue to apply for additional funding that will help ensure the long-term success of this work.
  • Expand REW’s River Education Program by reaching additional schools in Mesa County.
If you are interested in learning more about this work and touring local restoration sites up-close and personal, consider joining REW on their next Raft the River trip on August 24th. Rimrock Adventure guides and hand-picked local river experts will provide an informative, fun float down the Colorado River with après dinner, drinks, live music, and prizes to boot. For more information on the raft trip or to learn more about local restoration projects, please contact REW at 970-256-7400 or visit
RiversEdge West is a Grand Junction-based 501 (c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of riparian lands through education, collaboration, and technical assistance.
Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company operating in eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is committed to providing cost-effective, clean, responsible energy delivered with the highest standards for safety, reliability, and responsiveness. Xcel Energy supports communities in four important focus areas: STEM education; environmental stewardship; economic sustainability; and access to arts and culture.

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.



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