The San Juan watershed, including the Animas River, is full of surprises. Historic mining sites are widespread – part of our state’s heritage, but some creating significant water quality concerns. Native cutthroat trout streams offer unique angling opportunities and preserve a different aspect of Colorado’s heritage. From the Alpine Triangle through the Gold Medal waters on the Animas, Colorado TU and its Five Rivers Chapter are working to pass on a watershed that is as healthy (or healthier) tomorrow as it is today.
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.
The Sportsman’s Conservation Project campaigns diligently to protect this area. Check out the video produced by Trout Unlimited and featuring the SCP’s Ty Churchwell.
The Alpine Triangle was also identified by TU and Field & Stream as one of six intact landscapes in the West with exceptional fishing and hunting opportunities.
Keeping the San Juan flowing. Colorado TU, through the efforts of Colorado Water Project Director Drew Peternell, won a ground-breaking Supreme Court victory on the Dry Gulch project, which proposed large-scale diversions from the San Juan River, well beyond what was reasonably needed for future growth in the Pagosa Springs area. The Court ruled that such excessive development was speculative and not allowed by Colorado water law. Ultimately, the Pagosa water district settled the dispute, agreeing to a responsibly-sized project that can meet future needs while preserving healthy river flows in the San Juan.
Defending Colorado backcountry. The San Juan National Forest contains more than 543,000 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.
Restoring habitat on the Animas. The Five Rivers Chapter of Colorado TU completed restoration work on the Animas River through Durango – stabilizing banks and helping protect the cottonwoods that line the river through town. The effort will help maintain quality habitat for a gold-medal fishery and a healthier riparian corridor along Durango’s home water.
Protecting water quality. Colorado TU is a regular participant in the state rulemaking process that sets standards for water quality in basins, providing a voice for rivers and the fish and other aquatic life that depend upon them. In the last San Juan basin hearing, Colorado TU supported our allies with San Juan Citizens Alliance and helped secure “outstanding water” designation for Hermosa Creek, helping ensure that its existing high water quality will be protected for the future.