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South Basins

Dolores-San Miguel

The Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir was once recognized as one of America’s 100 Best Trout Streams by Trout Unlimited in the book by that same name. Reduced flows have now reduced its fishery dramatically, but its upper reaches remain a largely intact watershed and landscape supporting outstanding fishing and hunting opportunities. The San Miguel River is one of Colorado’s major undammed streams and supports high quality fisheries in and downstream of Telluride. Coloardo TU’s Five Rivers Chapter and Dolores River Angler subchapter, along with the Gunnison Gorge Anglers Chapter, are stewards of these outstanding western Colorado watersheds.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Sportsmen for the Dolores. Colorado TU staff and volunteers have launched a partnership effort with anglers, hunters, and other Dolores stakeholders from farmers to outfitters. The Sportsmen for the Dolores campaign is focused on working with local communities to develop appropriate strategies for maintaining the outstanding and economically vital natural and recreational values of the Upper Dolores basin.

In 2011, Field and Stream named the Upper Dolores one of the west’s Best Wild Places. Read the series by Kirk Deeter at Field and Stream.

Want to add your support for the Dolores? LIKE the Sportsmen for the Dolores Facebook page.

Lower Dolores River flows. Colorado TU has a long history of working on behalf of fishery flows below McPhee Reservoir, and is represented on the Dolores Project’s biology committee – which helps manage McPhee’s fishery pool water to benefit downstream habitat – by Tom Knopick of Duranglers. Low flows still pose serious challenges, and Colorado TU participates as a member of the Dolores River Coalition, as well as with a broad range of local stakeholders in a “Dolores River Dialogue” aimed at understanding and addressing the ecological needs of the river downstream of McPhee.

Matt Clark is the Dolores Basin Project Coordinator for Sportsmen for the Dolores. You can reach him at

Wild and Scenic San Miguel. The Bureau of Land Management evaluates rivers for potential protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and through its Resource Advisory Council process Colorado TU staff and volunteer leaders with the Gunnison Gorge Anglers have worked to promote appropriate protections for the San Miguel and other area streams – including recommendations for multiple reaches of the San Miguel to be found “suitable” for Wild and Scenic designation.