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North Basins

North Platte-Poudre-Thompson

Northern Colorado is home to a wealth of outstanding rivers, including Colorado’s only Congressionally-designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre. The Big Thompson, St. Vrain and North Platte are also key watersheds and include habitats ranging from the high mountain lakes and streams or Rocky Mountain National Park to the Gold Medal waters of the North Platte near the state line. Colorado TU chapters in Estes Park, Fort Collins, and Longmont are working to protect these world-class resources.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Restoring the Poudre headwaters. After a multi-year conflict over stream flow releases from Long Draw Reservoir, Colorado TU and northern Colorado irrigators found common ground in a partnership approach to mitigation that will help launch the largest native trout restoration project in Colorado history – spanning some 40 miles of streams in the Cache la Poudre headwaters. The partners are seeking Forest Service support for this collaborative effort to create a true stronghold for native trout conservation.

Greenback Backers. Colorado TU’s Alpine Anglers Chapter has for many years been a valued partner with the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service in programs for native trout conservation. The “Greenback Backers” program offers volunteers the chance to help with backcountry surveys and public education, all in support of conserving Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout.

Responsible energy development. In the wrong places or without the right protections, energy development can create major problems for rivers and fish. With other sportsmen, Colorado TU advocates for responsible energy development that allows for extraction of key resources like natural gas while ensuring protection of key fish and wildlife habitats. In the North Platte, Colorado TU has successfully protested and stopped proposed lease sales that jeopardized Gold Medal fisheries by failing to include the protective standards that were needed.

St. Vrain enhancements. Over several years, the St Vrain Anglers chapter of TU has helped collect information documenting the need to improve seasonal flows in the St. Vrain and then in funding the installation of Rubicon gates at three key water diversions that operate more efficiently and are therefore able to help keep water flowing in the St Vrain year-round.

Northern Integrated Supply Project. Proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the NISP project would involve construction of two off-channel reservoirs and raises significant questions about protecting flows and water quality in the Cache la Poudre. Colorado TU has raised concerns with the Corps of Engineers, which considers the federal permits for water projects, pointing out that their Draft Environmental Impact Statement was inadequate and did not offer a fair basis for evaluating the project and its impacts.