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South Basins


The Gunnison basin encompasses world-class fisheries from the trophy trout of the Taylor River to the legendary Black Canyon, as well as major tributaries including the Uncompahgre and Lake Fork of the Gunnison. From defending high-country habitats for native trout to protecting flows through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado TU and its local chapters are in the forefront of river conservation.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Protecting the Alpine Triangle. The Alpine Triangle spans the headwaters of the Uncompahgre, Lake Fork of the Gunnison, and Animas Rivers and supports diverse values from outstanding fishing and hunting, to motorized recreation and heritage resources from early Colorado history. Our motto in pursuing this process is: keep it like it is. We do not want to change the way the Alpine Triangle is used recreationally. We want to ensure it is protected for future generations to enjoy.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Protecting flows is essential for the gold medal fishery through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison – and also supports the unique environment at the heart of this Colorado national park. Colorado TU was part of a multi-year legal battle to ensure that the National Park was protected through water rights that assure the flows needed to support its outstanding resources – and that effort culminated in a Colorado water court settlement that will help assure flows for the future.

Protecting Colorado backcountry. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests contain more than 1 million acres of unroaded backcountry areas, providing some of the best remaining habitat for fish and wildlife and outstanding opportunities for hunting and fishing. Colorado TU and other sportsmen are working to ensure that these outstanding lands get the protection they deserve.

Relief Ditch project. Colorado TU and its Gunnison Gorge Anglers Chapter are working with local irrigators on a project to rebuild the diversion structure for the Relief Ditch in order to better protect river values and provide safe boating passage, while still assuring full delivery of irrigation water to area farmers. The project is a “win-win” for anglers and agriculture.

Promoting responsible approaches to hydropower. Colorado TU has been a leading voice for “low impact” approaches to hydropower that generate clean energy while protecting river values.  This begins with generating power from water that is already being transported for other uses such as irrigation – an opportunity to generate renewable energy without taking another drop of water from streams.  The Gunnison Gorge Anglers Chapter is working with local interests to encourage such low-impact efforts at Ridgway Dam and on the Gunnison Tunnel.