About Us

THE UPPER GUNNISON RIVER WATERSHED

The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District is located in south-central Colorado in the headwaters of the Gunnison River Basin. The mainstem of the Gunnison River which forms at the confluence of the East and Taylor Rivers in Almont, picks up other tributaries on its way into Blue Mesa Reservoir. Seven tributary mountain watersheds make up most of the Upper Gunnison River Basin. These seven are Ohio Creek, East River which includes the Slate River, Taylor River, Tomichi Creek which includes Quartz Creek, Cochetopa Creek, and the Lake Fork of the Gunnison.

Approximately 82% of the lands located within the District are federal public lands. Agriculture accounts for over 97% of the current water diversions in the Upper Gunnison River Basin. The total amount of irrigated acreage in the Basin is over 66,000 acres, mostly irrigated hay and pasture. The Basin is also known for its recreational activities such as fishing, boating, skiing, hunting, and camping; and this is a continually growing part of the local economy.

UGRWCD staff

210 West Spencer, Suite B      Gunnison, CO 81230       970-641-6065

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Sonja Chavez

General Manager

Sonja joined the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District as General Manager in December 2019. Sonja received both her BA in Environmental Biology and an MA in Limnology (study of freshwater systems) from the University of Colorado. Her areas of expertise are in water quality, water resources management, funding acquisition, and environmental and natural resource sciences, policy and planning.

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JOHN McCLOW

General Counsel

John is a graduate of Colorado Law. He has represented the District since 1991, becoming full time General Counsel in 2006. His work has consisted, in part, of water court litigation, including basin-wide plans for augmentation, and legislative advocacy. John has served on numerous boards, commissions, and organizations involving Colorado water, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Upper Colorado River Commission, and Colorado Water Congress.

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Jill Steele

Office Manager

Jill has worked for the District since 1994. She received her degree in Accounting from Western State Colorado University and is the District’s office manager and accountant.

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Beverly Richards

Water Resource Specialist

Beverly has been with the District since 2005. Since joining the District, she went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Environmental Management and Planning. Beverly works as the water resource specialist for the District and handles augmentation contracts among her other duties. She is also a staff member of the Watershed Management Planning, Grant, Project, and Education Committees.

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Sue Uerling

Administrative Assistant

Sue Uerling joined the staff in September 2020 as the Administrative Assistant. She will serve as the front-line contact with the public and will assist with Board meeting preparation tasks and public relations. Sue has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has spent 30 plus years in a variety of administrative and managerial roles primarily for nonprofit organizations.

District Board Members

The UGRWCD is governed by a board of eleven directors who are appointed by the Chief District Judge and represent eight geographical divisions. The divisions include Hinsdale County – Michelle Pierce; Saguache County – Rebie Hazard; Tomichi Creek – Joellen Fonken; Taylor River – Don Sabrowski; Crested Butte – Rosemary Carroll and Julie Nania; Ohio Creek – Stacy McPhail; Gunnison River – Andy Spann; and, the City of Gunnison – Bill Nesbitt, John Perusek and George Sibley. A Director must reside and own real property within his or her division and must be knowledgeable in water matters affecting the Upper Gunnison River Basin.

Michelle Pierce

President

Division 1 - Hinsdale County
Term Expires 2023

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Stacy McPhail

Vice President

Division 6 - Ohio Creek
Term Expires 2022

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George Sibley

Secretary

Division 8 - City of Gunnison
Term Expires 2022

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Bill Nesbitt

Treasurer

Division 8 - City of Gunnison
Term Expires 2024

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Rebie Hazard

Director

Division 2 - Saguache County
Term Expires 2023

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Joellen Fonken

Director

Division 3 - Tomichi Creek
Term Expires 2023

Sabrowski No. 2_preferred

Don Sabrowski

Director

Division 4 - Taylor River
Term Expires 2024

Nania No. 2_preferred

Julie Nania

Director

Division 5 - Crested Butte
Term Expires 2021

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Rosemary Carroll

Director

Division 5 - Crested Butte
Term Expires 2023

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Andy Spann

Director

Division 7 - Gunnison River
Term Expires 2022

Perusek

John Perusek

Director

Division 8 - City of Gunnison
Term Expires 2022

General Inquiries

Contact Beverly Richards

BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

George Sibley was appointed to the UGRWCD Board of Directors in June 2006 representing Division 8, the City of Gunnison.  George currently serves as the Secretary of the Board. His term expires in 2022.

George’s interest in water issues began decades ago, particularly after Colorado’s winter drought of Water Year 1977 when he was asked to write a magazine article about the drought’s effects. Read George’s water story here.

STANDING COMMITTEES

2019-2020

Education Committee: Chair – Bill Nesbitt, George Sibley, Rosemary Carroll, Joellen Fonken, Stacy McPhail, Sonja Chavez, Beverly Richards

Executive Committee:  Chair – Michelle Pierce – President; Stacy McPhail – Vice President; Bill Nesbitt – Treasurer; George Sibley – Secretary

Finance Committee:  Chair – Bill Nesbitt, Rebie Hazard, Michelle Pierce, John Perusek, Sonja Chavez, Jill Steele

Grant Committee: Rebie Hazard, Andy Spann, Rosemary Carroll, Julie Nania, Joellen Fonken, Sonja Chavez, Beverly Richards

Legislative Committee:  Chair – Michelle Pierce, Rebie Hazard, Julie Nania, Andy Spann, John McClow, Sonja Chavez

Projects Committee: Bill Nesbitt, Rosemary Carroll, George Sibley, John Perusek, Don Sabrowski, John McClow, Sonja Chavez, Beverly Richards

Water Administration Committee:  Joellen FonkenRebie Hazard, Andy Spann, Michelle Pierce, John McClow, Sonja Chavez

Watershed Management Planning Committee – Chair – Stacy McPhail, George Sibley, Andy Spann, Michelle Pierce, Julie Nania, John McClow, Sonja Chavez, Beverly Richards

UGRWCD Divisions

Job Announcement

Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District

General Manager

Start date December 1, 2019