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North Basins


Northwest Colorado is home to some of Colorado’s finest – and healthiest – river systems.  From the birthplace of ‘wilderness’ management at Trappers Lake, to the gold-medal quality rainbow trout fishery of the Yampa, Colorado TU – with our newest chapter, the Yampa Valley Fly Fishers – is working to keep these great watersheds great.

Threats, Programs & Projects

Oil shale. Oil shale proposals have long been a part of the northwest Colorado 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 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. The Routt National Forest contains 442,000 acres more. Colorado TU and other sportsmen are working to ensure that these outstanding lands get the protection they deserve.

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 Yampa and White basins, Colorado TU has successfully protested and stopped proposed lease sales that jeopardized key native cutthroat trout fisheries by failing to include the protective standards that were needed.

Reconnecting and restoring trout habitats. Colorado TU, with staff leadership from Brian Hodge with the Colorado Water Project, is working on projects to help restore and reconnect high value habitats. Road crossings and improperly designed culverts can keep fish from moving upstream, fragmenting habitat – by reconnecting these areas, we can help create more stable native trout populations. River restoration work, such as an upcoming project on the Stagecoach Reservoir tailwaters, will also help to keep Northwest Colorado rivers healthy.

Transbasin diversions. The Yampa and White basins have long been insulated from the threat of water diversions to the Front Range by distance, but those days may be coming to an end. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District has offered a conceptual proposal for a Yampa River pumpback and Colorado TU will be vigilant in ensuring that the river values of the Yampa and its tributaries are protected.