Jul 25, 2023 - Water

Tillie Walton's "Wild Rivers" promotes conservation one adventure at a time

Tillie Walton, left, and guide Tate Tomlinson on the Rogue River. Photo: Courtesy of "Wild Rivers with Tillie"

In an opening scene of her TV show "Wild Rivers," Tillie Walton introduces one of the world's greatest water conservation challenges.

State of play: "Between Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the Colorado River runs through one of the most pristine landscapes on earth," she says.

  • "One would think that this stretch of river between the two dams would be one of the most protected places on Earth, but this natural treasure is faced by many threats."

Why it matters: The PBS show is an example of how conservation advocates are hoping to galvanize action to save the Colorado River and other waterways endangered by climate change and population growth.

What to know: In each episode, Walton — an Aspen resident and longtime river guide — takes viewers on a journey downriver via a raft and interviews natives who depend on the water.

  • The first season features three rivers in the state, including the Yampa and Rio Grande.

What she's saying: "Part of the hope with the show is to share these incredible places with more people so they will care," Walton tells John. "And hopefully, it will inspire them to check out something in their backyard and learn a little more."

Zoom in: Walton fell in love with rivers on a trip to Big Bend National Park as a Denver high school student. She started as a guide at 19, taking trips on the Arkansas River and later the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

  • The Colorado is dearest to her heart. "I would describe it as such a magical, powerful, incredible resource that we really need to take care of because it's at the brink of really not doing well," she said.

What to watch: This month, Walton begins filming the second season, which will take her around the world to learn about other rivers facing existential threats.

  • The rivers, she says, "are going to become our climate refuges for wildlife. It's going to be like an ER that keeps everything alive."

ICYMI: Saving the Colorado River, one vodka bottle at a time

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