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. After being raised in western Pennsylvania, George moved to the Gunnison Valley as a self-proclaimed ski bum in the mid 1960’s where he wrote for the Crested Butte Chronicle (Crested Butte’s former newspaper) and served on the Crested Butte Ski Patrol. After leaving the valley in the mid 1970’s, he moved back to Gunnison in 1988 to teach journalism and writing for Western State College (now Western Colorado University). He also managed ‘Special Projects’ for the college’s outreach efforts, including the popular Colorado Water Workshop from 2002-2008. George has written many articles about water conservation, climate change and water management for a variety of publications in Colorado and throughout the United States. George also wrote “Water Wranglers,” a book commemorating the 75-year history of the Colorado River District and the development of Colorado’s share of the Colorado River, which was published in 2012, and is still a popular resource today for water stakeholders in Colorado.
As George points out, eighty-five percent of the Colorado River’s water starts above an elevation of 8500 feet and our district is part of that headwaters. “This is where it all starts!” said George. “Therefore, our destiny is interwoven with 40 million people who rely on this water downstream and outside the river’s natural basin.”
George believes the biggest challenge of the UGRWCD is to “figure out how we are going to adapt to climate change and balance the need for water for city development, agriculture and recreation.” George said, “For the future, we need to figure out how to accommodate more people in the Gunnison River basin with less water than we have now.”
George is pleased with how representation from a variety of water users in the Gunnison Valley has expanded throughout his terms on the UGRWCD Board. “I really commend Steve Glazer (former UGRWCD Board member who served from 1999 until his death in June 2016) for reaching out to many other water users and stakeholders to be a part of the discussions and actions about our watershed,” said George. “I think the district now represents a much better balance among the various users and we have effective, intelligent discussions across the lines.”
UGRWCD General Manager Sonja Chavez said, “George is a ‘water buffalo’ and highly respected within the water community for the knowledge he brings and for spurring those difficult and much needed conversations around the water resource challenges we face.”
George and his partner, Maryo Ewell, enjoy the arts in the Gunnison valley and dance a mean polka. George also enjoys hiking, reading and writing now that he is retired. George says writing is both a “vocation” and “avocation” for him.
Please join us in thanking George for his many years of service.