Request for Proposals: Fish Passage and Ditch Diversion Improvement

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Trout Unlimited (TU), in coordination with the Town of Granby (Town), Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is soliciting Proposals for Design Services for a diversion structure on the Fraser River in Granby, Colorado.  Proposals shall be received by TU via U.S. Mail and email by no later than January 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm at the following address:

Mely Whiting

P.O. Box 1544

Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

mwhiting@tu.org

Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at mwhiting@tu.org by December 21, 2018.  Only those contractors that submit an “intent to submit proposals” will be considered for a final proposal. The intent to submit proposal should list the primary contact and their contact information.

Consulting services shall be led by a primary Contractor, whose team should include appropriate fish passage engineers/scientists, river modeling and scour analysis experts, ditch diversion designers, and experience in water rights related to ditch diversions in Colorado. Contractor selection will be made through a combination of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) and Cost Based Processes as described in this Request for Proposals (RFP). Please refer to the following sections for details on the project, conditions, schedule, proposal requirements, and selection process.

QUESTIONS and ONSITE FIELD VISIT

An onsite, field visit will occur on November 28, 2018 to answer questions about the project aspects.  Interested contractors are highly encouraged to attend.  Please meet at the Town of Granby Town Hall, Zero Jasper Avenue, Granby, Colorado at 2:00 pm on November 28, 2018. All questions relating to this RFP should be addressed to Mely Whiting by email, at mwhiting@tu.org.  Questions are due in writing by no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 5, 2018.  All questions will be addressed in one batch with answers sent out to all recipients by December 14, 2018.

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • November 14, 2018 Request For Proposals Announced

  • November 28, 2018 2:00pm Onsite Field Visit and Answer Questions at the Town of Grandby Town Hall

  • December 5, 2018 5:00pm All Questions due in writing by December to Mely Whiting by email, at mwhiting@tu.org

  • December 21, 2018 Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at mwhiting@tu.org

  • January 4, 2018 at 5:00pm Proposals shall be receivd by TU via U.S. Mail and email by no later than at the following address:

    Mely Whiting

    P.O. Box 1544

    Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

    mwhiting@tu.org

    Please download the full proposal details and requirements by clicking the button below:

Read the Latest Currents Newsletter

In an important victory for Colorado's rivers, communities and taxpayers, voters last night decided that Amendment 74 was NOT for them. We all value private property rights, and governmental “taking” of property already requires compensation under our Constitution. Amendment 74 would have gone far further, jeopardizing important state and local government efforts from water quality protections to even basic land use planning and zoning. Our pocketbooks were also at risk - a similar measure in Oregon led to more than $4 billion in claims against taxpayers. Fortunately 54% of Colorado voters rejected Amendment 74, leaving it far short of the 55% approval it needed to pass.

Local voters also approved new or renewed investment in natural resources such as parks, open space and water in Denver, Chaffee, Eagle and Park counties - good news for our conservation mission in those communities. Of course, Coloradoans also elected our next governor, Jared Polis, and a slate of new legislators. Colorado TU looks forward to working with Governor-elect Polis and with new and returning legislators from both parties on efforts to benefit our fisheries and watersheds, as well as our state's multi-billion outdoor industry.

Thank you to everyone who came out to vote against Amendment 74!

Other Highlights in the latest Currents Newsletter:

  • Colorado Gives Day

  • Frostbite Fish-off

  • Maroon Bells is Protected

  • Angler’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Winter Fishing the Cache La Poudre

  • Behind the Fin with Mike Goldblatt

  • Animas/Hermosa Creek Health post 416 Fire Event

  • Win a guided fly fishing trip for 2

  • Bonus Video: Backcountry Gunnison Fall Fly Fishing

Behind the Fin with Mike Goldblatt

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Join us Behind the fin with Mike Goldblatt, Programs Director and Board Member At Large of the Evergreen Chapter Trout Unlimited


How long have you been a TU Member?

I have been a member of ETU since 1985

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

I became a member to give back to the resource that I get to enjoy... Colorado's fisheries.

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

My favorite project currently is teaching an introduction to fly fishing class at Evergreen High School. Also, I am involved in the Greenback Cutthroat Recovery program in our local watershed.

 Mike pointing at a temperature logger for a native Greenback Cutthroat Trout project.

Mike pointing at a temperature logger for a native Greenback Cutthroat Trout project.


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

My favorite Colorado rivers are the Fryingpan, the Lake Fork of the Gunnison and the Conejos (pictured below).

 The Conejos River. The picture was taken at the point where the river passes under US 285 in Conejos County, Colorado, a few miles north of Antonito. This file is licensed under the  Creative Commons   Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

The Conejos River. The picture was taken at the point where the river passes under US 285 in Conejos County, Colorado, a few miles north of Antonito. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

What does being a part of TU mean to you? 

Being a member of TU gives me the satisfaction of giving back to the resource and helping younger people become aware of coldwater fisheries conservation and enhancement.

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

I am a retired arborist. I enjoy fishing, golf, guitar, volunteering, and spending time with my grandkids.


Join Evergreen Trout Unlimited at their next monthly meeting on Wednesday November 14, 2018 7-9pm at Beau Jo’s Pizza. The presentation this month will be by Richard Pilatzke on Fly Fishing Terrestrials in the Rockies. Learn More.

Ring the Victory Bells

Conservationists: Victory for the Maroon Bells Wilderness

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Final agreement means Aspen will abandon plans to build dams on Maroon & Castle Creeks

Aspen, CO (Oct. 16, 2018) – Today, Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, and Colorado Trout Unlimited celebrated news that the city of Aspen has reached the last agreement necessary for it to permanently abandon its plans to build dams on Maroon and Castle creeks. 

“This agreement is a huge victory for the Maroon Bells Wilderness and the Maroon and Castle creeks. The city of Aspen deserves tremendous credit for agreeing not to build these dams and instead pursue smart water alternatives that will enable the city to respond to future needs and to climate change, while preserving this amazing natural environment that draws visitors from all around the world,” said Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois. “Communities throughout the Colorado River basin face similar dilemmas; Aspen is showing true leadership by demonstrating that it’s possible to find solutions that protect our rivers, preserve our quality of life, and enable future growth.”

“The signing of this final document means the end of conditional water rights that would have allowed dams to be built across Castle and Maroon creeks. The city of Aspen played a leadership role in working to find a set of solutions that will both protect Castle and Maroon creeks and ensure continued water for the citizens of Aspen,” said Will Roush, Executive Director at Wilderness Workshop. “Castle and Maroon creeks have tremendous ecological and community values, this is a moment to celebrate both the continuation of their free-flowing character and the partnership and collaboration with the city of Aspen that led to this outcome.”

“This is a significant victory for rivers in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Matt Rice, Colorado River Basin Director for American Rivers. “We applaud the city of Aspen for working with the community to find more sustainable and cost-effective water supply solutions. Thanks to the hard work and persistence of so many people who love this special place, these creeks will forever flow free.”

Sacrificing the places that make Colorado great is the wrong answer for meeting future water needs,
— David Nickum, CTU Executive Director

“We appreciate the city of Aspen’s commitment to meet its water supply needs in ways that protect these much-loved valleys and creeks, and the wild trout that call them home” said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.

If built, the dams proposed on Maroon and Castle creeks would have flooded important wildlife and recreation areas in addition to portions of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, forever changing two of the most beautiful, visited, and photographed valleys in Colorado.

The plans were opposed by Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, and Trout Unlimited, as well as several other parties, including Pitkin County and the U.S. Forest Service. This spring, after extensive negotiations, the conservation organizations signed agreements with the city, requiring it to relocate its water rights and abandon plans to build reservoirs with dams on Castle and Maroon creeks, regardless of whether it is successful in moving these rights to alternative locations. However, the agreements were contingent on the city reaching accord with other opposers in the case. Final agreement ending plans for a dam and reservoir on Castle Creek was reached in late summer. Today, the city announced a final settlement regarding the dam and reservoir on Maroon Creek.

The agreements commit Aspen to pursuing more river-friendly water storage strategies. The city will seek to move a portion of its water rights to a suite of more environmentally friendly water storage locations within and downstream of the city limits, including a site near the gravel quarry at Woody Creek. The city of Aspen played a critical role in helping find solutions to protect the two creeks while maintaining an important source of water for the community.


Western Resource Advocates works to protect the West’s land, air, and water so that our communities thrive in balance with nature. WRA’s team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. For more information, visit www.westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv.

Wilderness Workshop is dedicated to preservation and conservation of the wilderness and natural resources of the White River National Forest and adjacent public lands. WW engages in research, education, legal advocacy and grassroots organizing to protect the ecological integrity of local landscapes and public lands. WW is the oldest environmental nonprofit in the Roaring Fork Valley, dating back to 1967 with a membership base of over 800.  Learn more at http://www.wildernessworkshop.org/.

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 275,000 members, supporters, and volunteers. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at www.AmericanRivers.org.

Colorado Trout Unlimited is dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. With a grassroots base comprised of nearly 12,000 members in 24 local chapters across the state, CTU works both locally and statewide through advocacy, education, and on-the-ground restoration projects. For more information visit www.coloradotu.org.




NEWS RELEASE             

 Contacts:

Jennifer Talhelm, Western Resource Advocates Communications Director,

202-870-4465, Jennifer.talhelm@westernresources.org

Will Roush, Wilderness Workshop Executive Director,

206-979-4016, will@wildernessworkshop.org

Matt Rice, American Rivers Colorado River Basin Program Director,

303-454-3395, mrice@americanrivers.org

David Nickum, Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director,

303-440-2937 x1, david.nickum@tu.org

A threat to Colorado's Rivers (and Taxpayers)

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A Threat to Colorado’s Rivers (and Taxpayers)

Colorado TU says NO on 74!! 

We rarely get involved with ballot measures, but Amendment 74 poses a fundamental threat to Colorado TU’s mission to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries. The Amendment is risky and extreme.  Under current law, when government takes private property for public use, it must compensate the owner – and that is as it should be.  Amendment 74 would expand that concept so that government (i.e., we the taxpayers) would have to compensate land and property owners when government regulates the use of land or property and thereby cause any perceived diminution of value – even where such regulations are needed to protect their neighbors’ property, our communities, or our environment. 

A wide range of important governmental programs could be attacked under Amendment 74. Possibilities could include:

  • Local requirements on construction projects to protect our waterways, such as maintenance of riparian buffer strips and management of stormwater runoff, could provide the basis for a diminution of property argument by a property owner that would require governmental compensation under Amendment 74 – or abandonment of those important protections.

  • Since only the Colorado Water Conservation Board can hold instream flows, when such a state-held instream flow right requires another private water right holder to curtail their diversions in order to meet a water “call” for the instream flow, that could be interpreted as a governmental action diminishing the value of private property and require taxpayers to compensate the junior water right holder.

  • The Colorado Division of Water Resources is in charge of dam safety inspections; if threats revealed in an inspection led the State to place restrictions on how much water can be safely stored behind a dam, that could lead to Amendment 74 claims since the owner of the water storage right would see their ability to use that right (and thus its value) diminished.

  • In the wake of a tragic explosion caused by a flowline leak near Freestone in 2017, the Oil and Gas Commission adopted new flowline safety rules. Because the rules will increase costs for oil and gas production, they could be argued under Amendment 74 to have diminished the value of the underlying mineral rights and taxpayers could be forced to foot the bill.

  • Fish health restrictions on the stocking of hatchery-produced fish that are not tested and certified disease-free  could be argued to diminish the value of private hatchery properties and thus result in claims against taxpayers for “takings” under 74.

  • Use restrictions placed by local governments (e.g., on placing liquor stores or marijuana dispensaries near schools, or water restrictions applied during drought) could be rendered impossible or prohibitively expensive.

  • Even laws incidentally affecting a business’ profitability (such as minimum wage, or work safety regulations) could be argued to impact the market value of the property occupied by the business, and thereby become prohibitively expensive to enforce.

The language of Amendment 74 is very simple – and very sweeping.  It is so broad that virtually any arguable impact upon fair market value of any piece of private property resulting from state or local government action – no matter how reasonable or justified or minimal or incidental or temporary – could trigger a claim for taxpayer compensation to the property owner. Even where a restriction was essential to protecting neighboring property values – such as by preventing placement of a landfill in the middle of a residential area – such governmental action could trigger claims under Amendment 74.

The exact reach of its impacts would undoubtedly be decided in the courts – tying up state and local governments in needless litigation even if some of the filed claims are rejected by the courts. The other key effect of Amendment 74 would be a major chilling effect on any local or state government rules designed to protect our environment, public health, and our communities – as our local governments may simply decide that the risks of expensive claims from private property owners preclude them from implementing the kind of planning and protections that we’ve come to expect from them.

Amendment 74 isn’t a new idea; Oregon passed a similar initiative in 2004. After three years and $4.5 billion in payouts required from local governments, voters there recognized their mistake and repealed the measure. Colorado can learn from their costly mistake and vote “no” the first time.

Colorado TU’s Executive Committee voted unanimously to oppose Amendment 74, and we are joined in that stance by a wide range of stakeholders – from Club 20 to the Colorado Nonprofit Association, from the AFL-CIO to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, from the Colorado Association of Homebuilders to the Colorado Water Congress.

Amendment 74 takes a risky and extreme interpretation of “takings” - and worst of all, it would embed it in our state Constitution where we would be stuck with its intended and unintended consequences, without any ability for the legislature to make adjustments to fix problems created by the measure. 

Colorado Trout Unlimited encourages our members and supporters to vote “NO” on 74.

Download PDF of CTU’s statement

https://coloradopolitics.com/in-response-amendment-74-threatens-colorados-outdoor-traditions/

Would you like to make that a combo?

  Streamers are a large type of fly that are often used to catch large trout and aggressive fish like pike or bass.    NPS Photo  / Forrest Czarnecki

Streamers are a large type of fly that are often used to catch large trout and aggressive fish like pike or bass.

NPS Photo / Forrest Czarnecki

Hopper, copper, dropper. Leave it to fly fishers to have easy to remember sayings about rigging up their line. Using a multi fly rig is just one way to mix up your setup and entice those hard to catch trout. The multi fly concept is not new as British flyfishers in the 1800s would strap on 10 flies at once! The trick is to master attaching your dropper line to the bend of the first fly’s hook and then you’re on your way to create all different kinds of combos. You might even catch two fish at once!

Below are just a few of possible fly combinations to help you get started:

Pro-tip: You can even tie your combos together before heading out to make switching out your rigs quick and easy.

 Pink Hendrickson Parachute dry fly.  Wikipedia Commons .

Pink Hendrickson Parachute dry fly. Wikipedia Commons.

  • 2 Dry Flies - Commonly used for increasing chances of catching when you know which fly the fish are going for. You can even use this to try out two different flies to see which one the fish prefer and then adjust after. Your options are endless. This is also an opportunity to use a larger fly as your floater/indicator and your smaller fly for the strikes. Sometimes, the fish will go for both!

  • Hopper Dropper (A favorite late summer rig): This setup is exactly what the name describes, a grasshopper/large floating fly, and a trailing nymph dancing in the water below. This is definitely a way to increase your chances of a strike. The hopper acts as an indicator (or a huge meal for that desperate trout) and the nymph is the safer more appealing option that the fish will usually go for.

  • Dual Streamers (A Fall Classic): The fish are hungry and aggressive during the fall and this rig is sure to entice. You will want to “rope-up” and use heavier tippet to avoid breakage and land the fish quickly.

  • Two Nymphs: Help control your depth and try a two nymph rig. This follows a similar strategy with the dual dry flies.

  • A Streamer and a Nymph (A still water favorite): The larger streamer is most enticing to any fish and the small nymph floating by is a hard one to pass up. This is a less commonly used combo, but can yield some great results year round.

Resources & Learn More

How to tie and fish tandem rigs

Top 5 tandem rigs

Tie the hopper dropper

Behind the Fin with Reid Baker

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Join us “behind the fin” with Reid Baker, Vice President of Denver Trout Unlimited Chapter

How long have you been a TU member?

Since 2006.

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

Though I've been a member since 2006 I really became more active in 2014. I had been a full time fly fishing guide and realized that I had made a living off of these resources, and rather than simply taking it was time to give back in a more substantial way. That was the year I became a board member of the Denver Chapter.  

What made you want to be involved with TU?

I think what draws me to DTU most is because our projects benefit not only anglers, but Denver as a whole. Whether you like to fish, SUP, kayak, bike along the path, or enjoy one of the many riverside parks we've been involved with, we've tried to improve our city through its river. 

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

I have competed as a pro, amateur and am currently the Operations Manager for the Denver Trout Unlimited Carp Slam (www.carpslam.org) fishing tournament. For 12 consecutive years, DTU has put on "The Slam" to raise proceeds for the Denver South Platte River (DSP). 15 Pro/Am teams fish for most total inches of carp on the fly in a single day. It has been an awesome event to be a part of and I've met some of the most talented anglers in the region through this event. More importantly though, I've seen a lot of good go back into the DSP to make our home river better.

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

At this point I'm pretty content anytime I get to float with friends or family and watch them catch fish. That's not an open invite to anyone reading this... haha... but I get more enjoyment at this point watching other people do the catching. Plus from a rower's seat I get to heckle. 

What does being a part of TU mean to you? 

Being a part of TU means being a part of a great local community of conservationists. Conservationists who happen to fly fish. 

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

I try to travel as much as I can... usually with a fly rod in my hand. I've been fortunate to fish in some amazing places and meet more amazing people. I also recently got a smoker and working on perfecting my brisket-- got a long way to go before I enter any competitions. 

The Thompson Divide: Standing at the Summit

 Photo: Trout Unlimited www.tu.org

Photo: Trout Unlimited www.tu.org

Excerpt from Aspen Times, read the full article here.

By Scott Willoughby

In a landlocked rise of rock and ice, Thompson Divide flows like a vein of Colorado gold. This vast sweep of lustrous aspen groves and lush conifer forests surrounded by the iconic sentinel of Mount Sopris, the towering Elk Mountains, rugged Ragged Wilderness and verdant Grand Mesa is flanked by open, grassy meadows and cool, clean trout streams offering a treasure of precious, wild habitat. The 221,000-acre backcountry expanse serves as one of the most pristine natural environments in the West, and among the most deserving of preservation.

Described as a "Colorado Crown Jewel" by Gov. John Hickenlooper himself, the rolling, mid-elevation backcountry is home to a rare combination of natural and recreational resources in the heart one the nation's most popular outdoor playgrounds. Because it supports recreation, ranching and other local industries, the Thompson Divide produces an estimated 300 jobs and pumps more than $30 million into the local economy, much of it during the fall harvest and hunting seasons when the hillsides bustle with life.

Critical keystone habitat supports some of the state's largest herds of Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer and dozens of other species benefiting from one of the densest concentrations of roadless areas in the West. Native cutthroat trout line the vital cold water streams and ponds that continue to serve as a water source for the husky bruins once hunted by conservation champion President Theodore Roosevelt more than 100 years ago.

A new chapter was added to this storied landscape recently when a coalition of local government officials, businesses, ranchers, sportsmen and citizen groups successfully orchestrated the cancellation of 25 oil and gas drilling leases improperly issued in the early 2000s within Thompson Divide's boundaries and settled a lawsuit challenging the cancellation last summer. The leases covered more than 21,000 acres (about 33 square miles), featuring prime big game habitat and native cutthroat trout streams in watersheds providing source water to the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers, as well as local communities.

But the battle is far from won. Keep reading.

Can’t access the full article, try on Trout Unlimited.

#STANDFORPUBLICLAND

 Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park, California

Guest blog by Catherine Belme

When I moved into my @vanforpublicland and drove off on the open road last fall, it was to fuel my soul and better connect with and get to know the land I call home. It’s so much more than that though. I have the deepest, most passionate feelings for this land, for the rivers and plants and animals that inhabit it with us. We are creatures of the wild, somewhere along the lines domesticating ourselves a little too much, in my opinion. I strongly believe all of us have a primal connection to the outdoors, the wild. Some of us just may never have had the chance to explore that yet, and others may have forgotten or suppressed it while caught up in modern life. I want to change that.

 Kings Canyon National Park, California

Kings Canyon National Park, California

I strongly, strongly believe that interacting with nature heals the body and soul, grounds us, helps us understand life and get a grip on what actually matters and why, gives us fuel and a deep sense of fulfillment. I want to share the feelings I get when in the outdoors with as many as possible. For these feelings – they’re the first step in developing a lasting relationship. The way I see it, there’s something in the outdoors for everyone, and once found it leads to an appreciation for and love of the environment. Once that foundation is laid, people begin feeling passionate about the wild spaces in their lives, and with that comes a reason to protect these places. Our public lands are threatened every day, not just by humans mistreating them but also by our government and special interest groups. Now, more than ever, there is no guarantee these last wild places will remain protected for future generations to enjoy.

 Monahans Sand Hills State Park

Monahans Sand Hills State Park

 Bears Ears National Monument

Bears Ears National Monument

 Monahans Sand Hills State Park

Monahans Sand Hills State Park

I set out on the road to see as much of our nation’s public lands as possible, with the intent of sharing their largely unrealized beauty and power with others, and to meet with and share the stories of as many folks in the outdoors as I can.
 Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

My hope is that through sharing these stories, others will find someone they can relate to and thus be inspired to engage in the outdoor world. Over time, they’ll get the same wonderful feelings as the rest of the outdoorsy community, feel empowered, and find a reason to protect these spaces. Then, in my wildest fantasy, everyone will fight for conservation and know how to responsibly interact with nature. From exposure to experience to connection to conservation, bam! We all will be out there taking a stand for public land.

Along my journey I have met some of the most interesting and kind people, and witnessed first hand so much lost culture and raw natural beauty. My first stop was to link up with a couple who live on the road with their pup and have fallen in love with Bears Ears National Monument and the surrounding areas. I’ve driven through Utah on trips between Colorado and southern California several times before, but never even realized how much public land is there, and how amazing the topography and rich history of these places is! We drove around the land within the old Bears Ears border, stopping to look at Native American artifacts, kivas, and petroglyphs. The area is sacred to several tribes, and incredibly rich in cultural history. (In case you aren’t aware – last December President Trump announced a reduction in size of Bears Ears National Monument by a staggering 85%; a real blow to The Antiquities Act, outdoor enthusiasts, and especially to Native peoples, to say the least.)

I have really fallen for southern and eastern Utah from my travels, though! Cyanobacteria, lichens, and mosses form a crust over the earth called cryptobiotic soil – it’s very alive and very fragile so you must be careful not to tread on it, but it is so interesting to look at and unlike any other soil I’ve ever seen. The ground is red, and at first glance may seem barren, but when looking deeper you’ll find that’s not the case at all. Buttes, canyons, rivers, and dry creek beds make for a drastic landscape. At dusk and dawn the air is alive with the sounds of coyotes on the hunt. Skies are full of stars and, out there, a full moon lights up the landscape better than any flashlight could. Some of my favorite spots are the Bears Ears area, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Monument Valley, and the area surrounding Moab.

At dusk and dawn the air is alive with the sounds of coyotes on the hunt. Skies are full of stars and, out there, a full moon lights up the landscape better than any flashlight could.
 White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

My absolute favorite spots in terms of raw beauty that I have traveled so far have been sand dunes. There’s just something about an endless stretch of hills of sand at sunset that makes all the grains getting in my clothes, food, and all over the van totally worth it. White Sands National Monument is in southern New Mexico and is known for it’s sprawling dunes of, you guessed it, white sand. It almost looks like snow at times, and makes for incredibly high likelihood of getting a sunburn. Bring the kids for a sledding trip, or get to the visitors’ center early and reserve a backpacking campsite. My partner met me in El Paso and we spent a day and night at the dunes, I can assure you that sunset is nothing short of magical. My other favorites dunes were at Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas. The state park is a bit smaller, but they have a good amount of campsites that you can drive right up to, as well as a day-use area. Unfortunately, someone discovered that the area is great for fracking, so there are a ton of extraction sites going up all around the park and some are visible from the sandhills. Definitely still worth a visit though!

 Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Down in Texas I visited Big Bend National Park. Big Bend lies on the Rio Grande, at the border of Texas and Mexico. Across the border the land is preserved by two national parks as well, so add that to the fact that Big Bend is way off the beaten path, and it makes for an extremely well conserved area. Big Bend is where I learned about riparian areas – it’s the native plants and trees surrounding a waterway to help stabilize the banks, shade the water to keep it cool, and filter the soil, to put it briefly. The park may as well be three parks in one, actually. The eastern part is right on the Rio Grande and has a lush riparian zone as well as natural hot springs and a slot canyon. The central area is the Chisos Basin and Chisos Mountains – where you may encounter bears while hiking the mountainside or javelina at your campsite. The mountains are beautiful and have trails leading along the ridge of the canyon, where you can see the Rio Grande below. I met a kind artist from Austin and camped with her in the Chisos, photographing her painting process and chatting all evening long. To the western side is Santa Elena Canyon and a few desert hikes. I saw several kayakers here as well, and I believe you can even float the river from that area. Beyond that is a dirt road that it seems not too many drive down, which is a shame. The views are spectacular and it is rich with historical sites as well. While exploring the west side I met an older gentleman named Terry who has lived out of his little sedan for a few years and camps at National Parks every night. He was delightful to talk to and I cannot wait to get ahold of him again for a feature in my project. I can only hope my retirement is half as adventure filled as his. I also befriended a family with a few daughters who was finishing up a spring break road trip. The parents were amped to meet a woman traveling solo and enjoying the outdoors, as they have intentionally raised their daughters in the outdoors and taught them to be daring and self sufficient. I thought that was so neat, and I am so excited for those girls to grow up and keep up their passion for nature.

After the southwest, I traveled up the Pacific coast to meet up with some folks in Olympic National Park. They’re a young couple living full time in an RV in the city, working in the city, and getting out of town every weekend they can to go camping. They even had an RV cat that they put on a leash and let wander around the campsite! How funny is that! Oh my gosh though – Olympic National Park is gorgeous. The lush rainforest (I didn’t realize we had a rainforest in the US until I visited up there), the rivers, the lakes, the mountains, and the seashore – all amazing. We only spent two nights together, so I definitely am due back for further exploration – but one night we camped in the Hoh Rainforest and the other at Kalaloch Beach campground. The Hoh is filled with towering trees, greens of every shade blanket the landscape, and the Hoh River cuts right through it. I hear it’s a great spot to fly fish, and that if you’re there at the right time of year you can see and hear the Roosevelt Elk bugling to each other. Over at the beach was also nice, however completely different. There’s a big cliff with a few trails leading down to a beach that seems to go on forever along the coast, and the tide goes out pretty far so it is wide too. The friends I met in Olympic used to be campsite hosts at the Hoh Campground, and currently are ambassadors for a trail clean up program. They have such a deep connection to the park after living there for a season and looking after the rainforest. Told you I’ve been meeting and collecting stories from the most interesting people!

 Navajo Nation, Arizona

Navajo Nation, Arizona

Our country has so much to offer, so many beautiful places, so many hidden gems.

It’s been about a year, and I can promise you I am nowhere near done with this project. Our country has so much to offer, so many beautiful places, so many hidden gems. It’s almost a catch-22: the less human traffic in these places the more wild, serene, and awe-striking they tend to be, however, that also means the less people who have an understanding of the land and why it needs to be protected – which often leads to lands being leased, sold, developed, mined, fracked, etc. and the majority of our country being none-the-wiser. I am working at a conservation district in eastern Washington for now, learning and doing all I can to restore the land. I’ll be continuing my #standforpublicland project as a weekend warrior, visiting and learning all about new places to share with others, sharing stories of those I meet out enjoying the great outdoors, and helping to spread responsible practices for interacting with Mother Nature. To celebrate National Public Lands day (September 22, 2018) I’ll be hiking through Palouse Falls State Park and some other areas in the Palouse region, getting to know my new home better and see all of its beauty! I hope to hear you’re out doing whatever it is you love to do most in the outdoors! Just please always remember to practice leave no trace ethics, welcome others into the outdoors, and leave each place better than you found it. I’d love for you to join my quest for public lands conservation, and please feel free to get in touch so I can share your stories to help inspire others!

 Snake River, Idaho

Snake River, Idaho


A note from CTU:

Learn more about National Public Lands Day here.

See who else is celebrating and find an event near you!

The fourth Saturday of each September marks National Public Lands Day. This September 22, 2018 we are reminded what makes our public lands great and because of that, all National Parks are free on that day. We want to thank Catherine for sharing her story and perspective on public lands and invite you to celebrate these beautiful places. Currently, we are trying to urge Congress to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund which has been key in establishing, conserving, and protecting some of your favorite places in Colorado such as the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The fund is expiring soon, but you can speak up!