CFWE remembers the legacy of founder Diane Hoppe


Diane Hoppe receiving CFWE’s President’s Award from Justice Hobbs in 2012.

Colorado Representative Diane Hoppe passed away Saturday.


“A great leader for challenging times. Graceful in times of stress. Generous with her wisdom at all times.  Her enduring legacy, leadership by example,” says Justice Greg Hobbs, vice president of the CFWE board.

Diane helped found the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, served as board president from 2002-2007, and was awarded CFWE’s President’s Award in 2012. She was an extraordinary leader, visionary and great friend who championed CFWE’s inclusivity and balance. Diane touched and inspired all of us.

From an announcement released by the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

“Representative Hoppe’s contribution to the State of Colorado was substantial and the loss of her leadership and friendship will be felt by many statewide,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.


Diane Hoppe connects with friends at CFWE’s 2013 President’s Award Reception.

Diane was elected chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board in 2015, and though she was so crucial to the start of CFWE, her work and accomplishments extend far beyond water education. She served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1999 through 2006 and chaired the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, the Water Interim Committee, and the Water Resources Review Committee. When Diane Hoppe received CFWE’s President’s Award in 2012, Justice Greg Hobbs wrote a short biographical article:


A third generation Sterling girl whose physician father delivered her, Diane Hoppe knows dry and the value of wet.  She and her former husband, Mike, were dry land farmers in Northeastern Colorado from 1975 to 1985.  “We had a cattle and wheat operation.  We prayed for rain a lot.”  They have two sons.  After their divorce in 1985, Hoppe moved back into Sterling and got her start in public life by “being the ears” for Congressman Hank Brown in his Northeastern Colorado district.  Brown, who forged the creation of the Cache la Poudre Wild and Scenic River Act in 1986, then became a Senator, bringing Hoppe along.  “Hank never had a bad thing to say about an individual.  He knew how to have a difference of opinion without thinking those who don’t agree with you are bad people.”

Thrust into the controversy over designation of new wilderness areas, Hoppe learned from Brown “how to keep a calm demeanor and take notes.”  Together Senators Brown and Wirth, of opposite parties, brought home a wilderness act protecting water and environmental interests.  “Hank believed Colorado’s Instream Flow Program could help resolve wilderness issues.  But, federal agencies didn’t trust the state to enforce the instream flow water rights once the Colorado Water Conservation Board got them.”

By careful boundary drawing, combined with legislative language disclaiming any intent to create a federal reserved water right, at least for those new wilderness additions, the Colorado Congressional Delegation obtained enactment of the 1993 Colorado Wilderness Act.  Two years later, emphasizing that the CWCB appropriates instream flow water rights in the name of the people, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the state has a “fiduciary duty” to enforce them.

Hoppe served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1999 to 2006, succeeding fellow Republican Don Ament, whose political campaigns she had managed over the years.  In 2003, when the drought was at its worst and junior surface and tributary ground water rights in the South Platte Basin were being curtailed in favor of the most senior rights, she obtained the enactment of a provision allowing the State Engineer to approve substitute supply plans and temporary changes of water rights.  This provision allowed junior rights to receive water if they provided sufficient replacement water to the seniors and filed for a plan of augmentation in the water court. Continue reading here.

CFWE’s executive director Nicole Seltzer will miss Diane’s many words of advice.  “She was always willing to help  me understand others’ viewpoints, work with me to improve CFWE’s reputation and programs, and was a stalwart supporter of our work.  I will greatly miss the opportunity to rely upon Diane’s insight.”


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