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South Basins


The Arkansas Basin encompasses waters from headwater streams with native trout along the Continental Divide to the Pueblo Reservoir tailwaters, as well as tributary basins including Fountain Creek and the Purgatoire River. The Arkansas is renowned for its brown trout fishery and as one of the premier rafting rivers in the nation. Through the efforts of Colorado TU staff and chapters in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Salida/Buena Vista, and Trinidad, we are working to protect and restore habitat – from water quality monitoring to river restoration projects.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Abandoned mine reclamation. TU staff, led by Elizabeth Russell, works with government and nonprofit partners to help address the pollution problems created by abandoned mines. One project in the Arkansas headwaters involves the Tiger Mine – but without Good Samaritan protections, the project has stalled because TU and other partners cannot take on the large and permanent liability for the mine.

Over the River. The artist Christo has proposed installation of a large art project stretching over miles of the Arkansas River, called “Over the River.” Colorado TU has voiced its concerns with the proposal and its potential impacts on water quality and on habitat in Areas of Critical Environmental Concern that have been designated by the Bureau of Land Management.

Purgatoire River restoration. With broad-based community support, the Purgatoire River Anglers chapter of TU is moving forward with a large river improvement project on the Purgatoire River through Trinidad – building a better future for the town’s “home waters.”

Defending water quality. The Pikes Peak and Collegiate Peaks Chapters both conduct volunteer water quality monitoring through the RiverWatch program. TU also serves as an advocate for water quality in state rulemakings; in the most recent rulemaking for the Arkansas Basin we secured stronger protections for unique native trout streams on the flanks of Pikes Peak.

Native trout restoration. Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, is native to the Arkansas basin. TU and the interagency Greenback Recovery Team have completed a wide range of projects to improve habitat and restore native trout in suitable waters.