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North Basins

Lower Colorado-Roaring Fork

The Colorado River below Dotsero supports outstanding trout fisheries until it transitions into warmwater conditions, and its tributaries like the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan Rivers are legendary fishing waters. From these major rivers – to the many smaller feeder streams that supply them and support wild and native trout fisheries of their own – Colorado TU and its Grand Valley Anglers and Ferdinand Hayden Chapters are true riverkeepers.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Roan Plateau. The Roan Plateau near Rifle supports rare populations of native cutthroat trout, outstanding big game, and unique stream and riparian environments carved into its shale formations. Recognized by Field & Stream as one of the “best wild places,” the Roan has been at the center of controversy over how to appropriately develop its natural gas, with Colorado TU calling for development through directional drilling to avoid sensitive lands and waters atop the Plateau. Colorado TU is part of a Federal lawsuit challenging leases that were issued for unwise development atop the Roan; at the same time, with our Grand Valley Anglers chapter, we are engaged in restoration projects on the Roan with support from industry partners.

See the Best Wild Places 2010 video produced by TU and Field & Stream.

Hydropower in the Roaring Fork valley. Colorado TU and our Ferdinand Hayden Chapter have been a voice for responsible energy development, calling on the City of Aspen to ensure that its proposals for re-establishing a hydropower facility on Castle Creek ensure appropriate flows to protect downstream habitats. This is part of ongoing statewide efforts to ensure that hydropower development takes place in responsible ways that protect river values.

Oil shale. Oil shale proposals have long been a part of the western slope landscape, and the BLM is currently conducting a planning process for the future of oil shale development based on Secretary of the Interior Salazar’s decision in February 2011 to take a fresh look at the oil shale plan that was released in 2008, which opened up 2 million acres of western public lands to oil shale. Colorado TU is asking the BLM to consider the effects that oil shale and tar sands development would have on water supplies and trout streams, and ensure that fisheries are protected.

Protecting Colorado backcountry. The White River National Forest contains 640,000 acres of unroaded backcountry areas, providing some of the best remaining habitat for fish and wildlife and outstanding opportunities for hunting and fishing in locations like the Thompson Divide. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests contain more than 1 million acres more. Colorado TU and other sportsmen are working to ensure that these outstanding lands get the protection they deserve.

Securing water quality. Local Colorado TU volunteers help collect water quality information through the RiverWatch program in partnership with the Division of Wildlife. Their efforts have provided data that allowed us to secure strong water quality protections for multiple native trout streams in this basin – including sensitive streams atop the Roan Plateau.

Restoring native trout on Battlement Mesa. Colorado TU’s Grand Valley Anglers chapter is a key funding partner in supporting a US Forest Service project to rebuild the spillway on one of the small reservoirs atop Battlement Mesa, allowing it to be refilled and to then serve as a refuge habitat for native Colorado River cutthroat trout.