September Currents Newsletter

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Did you check your email? We sent out our most recent monthly newsletter, Currents, earlier this week. If you did miss it, we always post our most recent and past newsletters on our website. You can see them here.

This month’s Currents featured a story on the once-extinct San Juan lineage of Cutthroat trout in Colorado, upcoming events such as the Upper C Fall Classic Tournament, River Clean-ups, Raffles, Exclusive CTU Youth Film, and much more!

Not subscribed to our e-newsletter? You can sign-up here and be opted in to receive our monthly updates. The newsletter includes the latest news, events, happenings, and stories about fly fishing, native trout, and river conservation.

Meet our new CTU Youth Outreach VISTA staff

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Bianca McGrath-Martinez has joined the Colorado Trout Unlimited team as the new Youth Outreach VISTA staffer to grow our capacity for implementing youth programming across the state.

Bianca graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore county in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, focusing on environment, development and health. She also received a minor in Geography. Prior to joining CTU as their AmeriCorps VISTA, Bianca served with AmeriCorps at an education nonprofit in Compton, California. Bianca’s hobbies include hiking, reading, listening to music, and traveling.

The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act Turns 50!

 Pictured: Eleven Mile Canyon

Pictured: Eleven Mile Canyon

Celebrate with a South Platte River Cleanup

 Courtesy of the National Parks System, nps.org

Courtesy of the National Parks System, nps.org

In October 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was established when Congress determined that “the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers.” Wild and Scenic designation protects free-flowing rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. The designation prohibits harmful development, preserves historic uses, and safeguards designated rivers for future generations. Of the roughly three million miles of rivers in the country, only a little over 12,000 are protected as Wild and Scenic. In Colorado, Congress granted Wild and Scenic protection to the Cache la Poudre in 1986 - currently our state’s only designated river (though discussions are underway about designating Deep Creek).

 Pictured: Cache La Poudre River.

Pictured: Cache La Poudre River.

While Colorado has only one formally designated Wild and Scenic river, the Act has helped spur other protections for rivers using state and local tools. One such example emerged in the aftermath of the Two Forks battle, as the review of the South Platte for possible designation prompted development of the South Platte Protection Plan. The Plan includes measures to provide recreational access to Denver Water properties, to manage reservoir releases for flow and temperature goals below Eleven Mile and Cheesman Dams, and to fund ongoing investments in the river corridor’s values through a $1 million endowment managed by the South Platte Enhancement Board.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark legislation, Colorado TU is joining with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte and the US Forest Service to host a day of service on the South Platte River near Deckers, with volunteers helping to pick up trash along the river corridor. The river clean-up event will take place October 6, 2018, from 9am to 3pm, with volunteers meeting at the Deckers Store. Bring your friends and family along and enjoy a great day on one of Colorado’s outstanding rivers – and perhaps bring along your fishing equipment to wet a line once the work is done! Click below to learn more and/or to sign up!


Behind the Fin with Mike McGinnis

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Join us Behind the Fin with Mike McGinnis, president of the Evergreen Chapter of Trout Unlimited, located in the Colorado foothills west of Denver.

How long have you been a TU member?

I celebrated my 40th year in TU last year having joined originally in 1977. 41 years now.

Why did you become a member and what chapter are you involved with?

In the beginning, I was very interested in the establishment and revitalization of trout in streams where I grew up in Tennessee.  Preservation of habitat became the focus shortly thereafter.  I have been President of Evergreen Trout Unlimited for approximately 10 years.

What made you want to be involved with TU?

 Establishment of trout water and preservation of habitat.

What is your favorite activity or project you have done with TU?

The Kids Fishing Clinics provide great joy to me.  To see the kids get so excited to catch fish always gives me a thrill.  I think we are establishing great conservation stewards for the future.

I know you won’t tell me your favorite spot, but what is your second favorite place to fish or favorite fishing story?

Actually, my favorite river of all time is the Little Red River in North Central Arkansas.  I grew up on that water and it will always be my favorite.

What does being a part of TU mean to you?

Being a part of TU means a lot to me.  In some small way, I think we are having an impact and I would like to think we're gonna leave the streams cleaner, the fish healthier and the love for the sport consistent.

What else do you do in your spare time or work?

I fish, golf, camp, ski, hike, hunt and do most outdoor activities.  Always have.

LEARN MORE

Check out the Evergreen Trout Unlimited Chapter

See upcoming events with the chapter here.

Like them on Facebook.

Extinct no more! CPW discovers remnant San Juan trout

 Colorado Parks and Wildlife has found cutthroat trout that are unique to the San Juan River Basin in southwest Colorado. Photo courtesy of  Colorado Parks and Wildlife . 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has found cutthroat trout that are unique to the San Juan River Basin in southwest Colorado. Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) biologists recently discovered a unique genetic lineage of the Colorado River cutthroat trout in southwest Colorado that was previously thought to be extinct. The discovery was officially recognized earlier this year thanks to advanced DNA testing techniques. Eight small populations of these trout have been found in isolated habitats on streams of the San Juan River Basin within the San Juan National Forest and on private property.
 
Based on two samples from 1874 and housed in the Smithsonian, researchers from the University of Colorado previously identified a Colorado River cutthroat trout lineage with genetic markers unique to the San Juan basin. Unfortunately, no modern populations of the lineage were known to remain at that time.  CPW researchers and biologists, however, set out to test all the southwest Colorado cutthroat trout populations they could find to see if any carried the unique San Juan genetic fingerprint.  Their efforts bore fruit with this year’s discovery of eight such small populations.

“We always ask ourselves, ‘What if we could go back to the days before pioneer settlement and wide-spread non-native fish stocking to see what we had here?’”
— Jim White, CPW Biologist

 “Careful work over the years by biologists, finding those old specimens in the museum and the genetic testing gave us the chance, essentially, to go back in time. Now we have the opportunity to conserve this native trout in southwest Colorado.” said CPW biologist, Jim White.

Colorado TU and the Five Rivers Chapter stand to play a key role in the story of these fish going forward.  “This is far and away the most exciting thing to happen to southwest native trout in my lifetime,” said TU representative Garrett Hanks of Durango. “I am excited to participate in the future of the San Juan cutthroat trout – from headwaters to the high desert.”

TU has a track record of partnership in successful native fish restoration projects in the region, working closely with CPW and the San Juan National Forest.  Among other projects, the partners have collaborated to restore Colorado River cutthroat trout into the headwaters of the Hermosa Creek watershed – building barriers to secure fish from downstream invasion by non-natives, improving stream and riparian habitat, and helping with reintroduction efforts.  The discovery of remnant San Juan lineage fish opens the door for new restoration efforts into additional, suitable habitats.

“We’ve appreciated the chance to work with such great partners to conserve native trout in southwest Colorado,” said CTU Executive Director David Nickum.  “It is nothing less than remarkable to now have the chance to join them in restoring a fish we thought had been lost to extinction.”

Biologists have already had to sweep into action to protect the rare, newly-found cutthroats.  Two populations were in areas impacted by the 416 fire this summer, and fish were salvaged from those habitats to preserve their unique genetic stocks before they could be lost to post-fire ash flows.

 A fish barrier installed to protect Hermosa Creek native trout, through a partnership including the San Juan National Forest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited.  More such projects will be needed to secure homes for the newly-rediscovered San Juan lineage cutthroat.

A fish barrier installed to protect Hermosa Creek native trout, through a partnership including the San Juan National Forest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited.  More such projects will be needed to secure homes for the newly-rediscovered San Juan lineage cutthroat.

Event Roundup - September

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The month of September is filled with plenty of ways to get outside and have fun! From fishing tournaments, parties, and volunteer opportunities - you, your friends, and family can find something fun to do this month! 

FISHING TOURNAMENTS

FUNDRAISERS

VOLUNTEER

SOCIAL & COMMUNITY EVENTS

You can always find out what's going on in your community by following your local chapter, CTU's web calender, or CTU's Facebook event listings.

Did we miss something? Let us know.

TU Weighs in on San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act

 Lizard Head Wilderness.  Photo Credit: San Juan Citizen's Alliance

Lizard Head Wilderness.  Photo Credit: San Juan Citizen's Alliance

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources recently discussed the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act (S.2721).  The proposed legislation, a result of over 15 years of local community collaboration, includes important protections for the headwaters of the San Miguel, the Uncompahgre and the Animas watersheds. It also includes protections for some of the state’s most iconic peaks including Mount Sneffels and Wilson Peak. 

Working to protect the headwaters of the San Miguel, Uncompahgre, and Animas watersheds, the Act will directly protect 2.5 miles of Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat, and 17 total river miles. Fish and wildlife in the area would benefit from the proposed designation, and migration corridors for elk, deer, and rocky mountain bighorn sheep would be prioritized and protected. Some of the best hunting and fishing in the state would be conserved for future generations because of this bill.

You can read the full letter submitted to the Senate ENS Committee on behalf of the TU Sportsman's Conservation Project here.

 

Learn more about the proposed wilderness here.

Funding for Outdoor Recreation in Colorado at Risk

See the full article from CBS 4 Denver featuring Trout Unlimited's Scott Willoughby.

Outdoor recreation is widely recognized as being one of the largest industries in Colorado, providing over 200,000 jobs, $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, and $28 billion in consumer spending. In fact, 71% of the state's residents participate in outdoor recreation alone. (Stats from the Outdoor Industry Association)

Most outdoor recreation occurs on the state's public lands and parks which are funded through various avenues. One of those funding sources comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has set aside and protected special places in Colorado and nationwide for more than 50 years. This fund is not fueled by tax dollars but rather the royalties from offshore oil and gas developments. Unfortunately, the continuation of this fund is set to expire September 30, 2018 unless Congress steps up.

So far, Senators Bennet and Gardner have both been leaders in supporting LWCF – but we need Colorado’s House delegation to also step up so that this successful program isn't lost to Congressional gridlock.

I am proud to support the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The funding will help states protect their natural treasures and wildlife for generations to come. This bill not only has an important environmental impact, but it is also important to Colorado’s economy in promoting outdoor recreation.
— Representative Mike Coffman
 CTU and Colorado Wildlife Federation leaders meeting with Representative Mike Coffman.

CTU and Colorado Wildlife Federation leaders meeting with Representative Mike Coffman.

On August 20, 2018 the Colorado Wildlife Federation and Colorado Trout Unlimited thanked Representative Mike Coffman for supporting the reauthorization of the LWCF at the trailhead of the West Toll Gate Creek Trail in Aurora, a key segment in its trail system that has received substantial support from a federal grant from the LWCF. 

"From trails and parks along the Front Range, to expanding angling and hunting access on the west slope, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested millions of dollars into Colorado's great outdoors," said Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director David Nickum. "We thank Representative Mike Coffman for supporting reauthorization of LWCF, and urge the rest of our Congressional delegation to join him to ensure that this successful program doesn't expire after September." 

You can read the full press release from the Colorado Wildlife Federation here. 

How can you help? Contacting your representatives is easy with our online form. Follow the button below!

Think you missed out?

 Image courtesy of:  TROUTS

Image courtesy of: TROUTS

Feel like you missed out on a chance to share your love and support for river conservation on the roads with the coolest license plate around? Well, you're in luck because the state has approved that the "Protect Our Rivers" special license plate still be available across the state! Thank you to everyone who has helped share the message and inspire others to get one of their own during our push before July 1. 

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Through the license plate program, we have raised over $50,000 towards river conservation projects across the state. If you are interested in sporting the best looking license plate around AND supporting rivers in Colorado, then look no further. Get your plate with the button below. 

Have you already donated for the plate, but lost your certificate? Send and email here.

SOLD: To the highest bidder

Recently Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, gave a passionate call to reclaim conservation as a true conservative value.  Read the full op-ed below, which has been reposted from the Denver Post.

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Wanted: A conservative conservation agenda

Making public lands available for sale to the highest bidder is not conservative, Chris Wood writes

"A month ago, a fishing buddy in Utah called me in a lather. His senator, Republican Mike Lee, had just used the existence of public lands to compare present-day Utahns to the mistreated subjects of England’s Medieval royal forests. “Their houses were razed and their historic rights trampled!” Lee proclaimed. He promised to introduce legislation to sell, transfer, or otherwise divest of our public lands — our national forests, our national monuments, even, perhaps, our national parks.

My friend couldn’t understand it.

“What is going on with Senator Lee?” he asked. “I have been a Republican my whole life, and there is nothing conservative about transferring public lands from public ownership.”

My friend’s views are by no means uncommon. They aren’t just shared by the overwhelming majority of anglers in my organization, Trout Unlimited, where Republicans and Independents outnumber Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin. They are also shared by a whopping 97 percent of sportsmen and women–including 73 percent of those who voted for President Trump in 2016, according to a recent survey.

The words conservation and conservative share the same Latin root: “conservare,” meaning to keep or hold in a safe state.

Making public lands available for sale to the highest bidder is not conservative. It’s reckless.

It was conservative politicians who largely created the rich fabric of public lands that make America the envy of the world, and that Sen. Lee’s proposals would diminish.

 Pictured: President Theodore Roosevelt. Wikipedia Commons.

Pictured: President Theodore Roosevelt. Wikipedia Commons.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant named 2 million acres of land in the northwest corner of the Wyoming territory, Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. President Theodore Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of public land and created the U.S. Forest Service to promote the “wise use” of national forests. President Nixon signed into law the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. President H. W. Bush strengthened the Clean Air Act and helped solve the scourge of acid rain.

All these men were, of course, Republican presidents.

What our nation needs today from true conservatives is reaffirmation of a conservative conservation agenda, a set of commonsense policies (such as protection of public lands and clean water) that all Americans can rally behind. This agenda would be guided by a few key principles that should strike a chord with right-leaning Americans:

Where taxpayer dollars are spent, they should be leveraged and spent efficiently. Spending that encourages private philanthropy and state funding should be a priority. For example, in Pennsylvania over the past decade, my organization received approximately $1 million in Chesapeake Bay Program funding and used that to leverage an additional $4 million in investment from private philanthropists and state programs.

The most durable efforts are local. Government is more effective at a local level. So, too, with conservation. Witness then-Gov. Jim Risch — another Republican, by the way — leading a collaborative process in 2006 to protect nearly 9 million acres of public land in his state of Idaho.

Address issues before they become festering problems. Anticipating opportunities is more effective than cleaning up messes. For example, Congress should act on a bill to treat renewable energy development on public lands as a leasable mineral, just like oil and gas, thereby creating a revenue stream for states and counties, and to support restoration work. Demand for renewable energy on public lands is low today, but it will not be in 20 years.

Public efforts should be in the service of critical social needs. Reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, getting rid of obsolete dams, and repairing culverts is great for the fish we anglers love to catch, but it also protects communities and infrastructure from flooding while providing thousands of family-wage jobs. Proactively addressing these risks is fiscally conservative: Every $1 invested in disaster preparedness saves $6 in disaster recovery costs.

Progress is possible. A prime example: Without a single dissenting vote, the House of Representatives last year passed a bill that would make it easier for local communities, mining companies, and nonprofits to clean up abandoned coal mines. The Senate should follow the leadership of nearly the entire Colorado delegation, and support a bill that extends that idea to apply to the clean-up of the tens of thousands of abandoned gold and silver mines in the West that are polluting many of our headwaters.

Conservation is the single most optimistic and affirmative idea that conservatives gave America. What could be more conservative than taking collective action today to make the world a better place for our kids tomorrow?"

Chris Wood is president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, which is dedicated to protecting, conserving, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.