About Us

Who we are

 

Headwaters Alliance (HWA) has deep roots in the Creede community. Created as the brain-child of Guinevere Nelson, long-time director of the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, HWA was founded in 2016 to support and continue the incredible work accomplished by the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee over the previous 22 years. HWA is proud to build upon the legacy of this small group of determined citizens who laid the foundation for community driven mining reclamation work. We continue to actively seek sustainable solutions for the well-being of Willow Creek and the upper Rio Grande that nurture the Creede and Mineral County that we all love so dearly.

Our work now

 

We are busy! Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, Headwaters Alliance is delighted to announce that we are making significant headway on numerous projects. The outpouring of support, enthusiasm and willingness to engage by project partners, community stakeholders, governmental agencies, regional partners and funders is thrilling.

Bit of Creede History

Bit of Creede History

Our Values & Commitments

Our Values & Commitments

Our Board & Staff

Our Board & Staff

Our History

Creede & Mineral County…

 

…were historically inhabited by Indigenous People. Evidence indicates that Paleo-Indians used the area seasonally but did not build permanent settlements. Later, in the 1300’s CE, Utes called the area home. The two Ute bands that were present in what is now Mineral County were the Weminuche and the Capote. While both bands still live in Colorado — as part of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Southern Ute Tribe, respectively — they were pushed out of the Creede area in 1873 when the U.S. Government appropriated Mineral County for mining purposes.

 

It wasn’t until 1889 that Nicholas Creede found considerable silver ore deposits in the Creede area, sparking a boom in mining from 1890-1893. During this time, the town ballooned to 15,000 residents with intensive mining operations scattered throughout the Willow Creek Watershed. The Creede Mining District remained active for almost a century with the intensity of activity closely tied to the rise and fall of silver prices. Eventually, mining ended in 1985, though active claims remain.

The aftermath of almost 100 years of mining operations…

 

…left a toll on the environmental, economic, and social resilience of Creede. Unstable tailings piles, waste rock laden with heavy metals, decrepit mining structures, impaired wildlife habitat, and flood and fire risk are just some of the resulting consequences. In spite of these challenges, the miner spirit prevailed, and Creede reinvented itself as a destination for art and theatre, gold medal fishing and pristine wilderness with a thriving summer tourist economy.

 

In 1991, Willow Creek was placed on the 303(d) list for Impaired Waters by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In an effort to restore and reclaim impacted mining sites without federal intervention, the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee (WCRC) was formed in 1997. WCRC began. as a group of local community members with the goal of improving water quality in Willow Creek. WCRC initiated the scientific characterization of contamination, implemented reclamation at numerous sites and initiated community awareness efforts. To learn more about WCRC’s work, please visit willowcreede.org

 

In spite of the effectiveness of the community-driven WCRC work, the EPA ultimately designated the Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Rock Pile a Superfund Site in 2008; the status of which remains unchanged. The Nelson Tunnel site is listed because it is a point source contributor of high levels of acid mine drainage directly into Willow Creek.

In 2016, Guinevere Nelson, long-time Executive Director of WCRC…

 

…realized that the informally-structured WCRC would benefit from the establishment of a 501(c)(3) non-profit to ensure ongoing support for work, especially in regards to the Nelson Tunnel Superfund Site, Willow Creek, and the upper Rio Grande headwaters. Nelson’s vision recognized the intrinsic relationship between environment and economy, seeking to create programming and projects that included restoration, education, and stewardship through community engagement and innovation. And thus, Headwaters Alliance was formed to carry on the legacy of WCRC and to expand the work to include the headwaters of the Upper Rio Grande and to implement strategies the addressed the intrinsic relationship between environment, society and economy. 

 

The community legacy of independence and determination continues to this day. HWA is actively engaged in working creatively and collaboratively with the many vested partners and stakeholders to continue to address the intrinsically linked environmental and economic concerns within the Willow Creek Watershed and the glorious headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Our Values & Commitments

Collaboration & Partnerships

We strive to build transformational relationships with community and regional partners. Collaboration takes time, patience and flexibility as partners and visionaries, community members and funders suss out the complexities of any topic in an effort to devise long-term solutions for environmental and economic sustainability.

Curiosity

Headwaters Alliance is committed to fearlessly asking ‘Why?’ We choose to explore the root causes of current understanding, policy or challenges; and we question commonly held assumptions in an effort to promote more socially just and environmentally sustainable solutions for our community and beyond.

Fidelity to Science

We value ethically sourced data and research, evaluated through principled discussion. We recognize that science is a process of constant learning and thus, we seek to consistently re-evaluate what we think we know with the ever- constant press of new technology, understanding and best current data.

7th Generation Thinking

Our work will inspire stewardship in the hearts of every citizen and visitor such that the ecological integrity of the area is protected from profligate action, with the understanding that environmental and economic sustainability and resiliency can be mutually compatible. We support and utilize the ethics of Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly .

Social Justice

To engage in Social Justice is to rise to the challenges of difficult questions, to stand in the discomfort of letting go of what was as we reach for a future that values the rights of equality, access and participation for all the members of our community - human and animal, flora, water, air and earth.

Stewardship

At Headwaters Alliance, we believe the Creede community is dedicated to leaving a thriving Creede and Mineral County for our great grandchildren's great grandchildren. We foster that dedication and fearlessly engage in new and creative thinking and solutions to foster the necessary social and economic changes to secure environmental health.

Transparency

While some problems are complex (due to environmental challenges, power struggles, financial constraints) utilizing radical transparency reveals other solutions. With humor, kindness, patience and grace, we practice open communication, celebrate diversity of people and ideas, and acknowledge the common basic needs of all.

Downstream/Upstream

As Wendell Berry said, 'Do unto others downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.' As the community at the headwaters of the Rio Grande, we are committed to promoting practices, policies and strategies that ensure and preserve water quality and water quantity within a healthy, diverse, ecologically functioning system.

Our Board

Randy McClure-crop

Randy McClure

President

Speaks for the mountains, mining & mountain biking.

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Growing up in Creede as a third generation resident gave Randy deep roots in the San Juan Mountains; the beauty, recreation and the opportunity to work in the mines have kept him here. After earning a degree in Geology from Colorado State University, Pueblo Randy returned to Creede and active mining and exploration in the Creede Mining District. Currently Randy is the manager of Rio Grande Silver, Inc., an exploration and pre-development project working towards the return of mining to the Creede Mining District. I am excited to be a board member of Headwaters Alliance and lend my experience in mining and knowledge of the area to continue and build on the great work and legacy of the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee. I believe Headwaters Alliance is the organization that will facilitate partnerships with the community, stakeholders, regulatory agencies and industry to accomplish great things in the near future!

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Christie Bode

Vice President

A downstream ethic for artistry and filmmaking.

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Christi found her way to the San Luis Valley in 2014, camera in hand paired with a thirsty curiosity about our communities along the Rio Grande. As owner of Moxiecran Media, she writes, directs and produces documentary films about our natural resources. She believes in the power of visual storytelling to communicate complex topics, while infusing a comprehensive understanding of Colorado’s diverse interests into the narrative. She is a strong advocate for public outreach and education, engaging with various stakeholders to understand a range of perspectives. When not looking through the camera, Christi is most likely scouting out a location in the San Juan Mountains to pose her one-eyed pug at.

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Jan Crawford

Secretary/Treasurer

Speaks for the river, fish and healthy water flows.

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As dedicated fly fisher and conservationist, Jan has worked hard to encourage more modern fisheries management, including working with the New Mexico Game and Fish agency for more special-regulation fishing waters and smaller bag limits. She taught at New Mexico’s Becoming an Outdoor Woman seminars for ten years at the Whittington Rifle Center in Raton. Jan was one of the founders of several fly fishing and conservation organizations, including a Trout Unlimited chapters in Minnesota and New Mexico, and both local and international women’s fly fishing groups.
After selling her Santa Fe based premiere fly fishing shop, she retired to Creede, Colorado and continues to work for conservation. Some of her current favorite causes include reducing light pollution in the Rio Grande valley, restoration of a floodplain contaminated by mine tailings, improving water quality and flow management in the Rio Grande River, improving fish habitat in the river and its tributaries and promoting sustainable recreation and economics for Mineral County and the city of Creede. She lives full-time within a short walk to some fine fishing on the upper Rio Grande River.

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Tom Tichy

Board Member

Organizationally savvy wielding a fishing pole.

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Coming soon, Tom is on (another) river trip!

Therese Hargraves-crop

Therese Hargraves

Board member

Environmental Chemist & Lab Management

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With roots in the Midwest, Therese discovered the town of Creede in the early 80’s after she met her future husband Creede (a native of Creede) on the island of Adak AK.  After living in Creede for a couple of years, she moved to Seattle and returned to her career in the environmental lab industry.  A graduate of Purdue University, Therese spent over 20+ years as a bench chemist, quality control chemist, and finally as project manager for environmental labs in the Seattle and the Chicago areas. Therese also took a few years off to be a full time Mom, as well as devoting 5 years as a partner in a renewable energy business.
After retiring as an environmental project manager in December 2019, and with a special interest in water quality, Therese is looking forward to lending her hand in future Headwaters projects.

Our Staff

Heather Greenwolf-crop

Heather Greenwolf

Executive Director
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Heather first fell in love with Creede in 2002 while camping with her children, and was lucky enough to find a way to call Creede home. Having served as a homebirth midwife for 15 years, with a background in anthropology and financial administration, she brings a unique and passionate approach to problem solving in the rural, low-resource setting of Mineral County. Key to Heather’s strategy is the mindset that solving environmental issues is largely a people problem. Heather’s background as a midwife has grown skills in negotiation, risk assessment, informed consent, implementation of evidence based practices and most importantly, a deep recognition that desired outcomes are best achieved through transparent and thoughtful processes. Heather strives to bring key experts to the table to ensure comprehensive understanding and therefore enhanced solutions. Lastly, and it should not be undervalued, Creede residents love where they live. Heather brings mission driven dedication in service to the Willow Creek Watershed and the people who live in Mineral County.

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Alex Handloff

Development and Engagement Coordinator
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Alex’s bio coming soon.