Trout Unlimited (TU) watershed activists from around the nation joined local government agency partners Wednesday morning to explore Kerber Creek and celebrate the ongoing restoration effort. The tour was a part of TU’s annual watershed retreat, bringing watershed experts from Oregon, Utah, Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin to the Valley to witness the long-term impacts of mining and contribute to the conversation about the clean up, especially in regards to water quality. TU’s purpose is to protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. The group has protected more than 10,000 river miles nationwide and pioneered new scientific, legal and legislative tools to make America’s rivers cleaner and healthier. They have served as the fiscal agent for Kerber Creek restoration efforts, acquiring more than $1.14 million for on-the-ground restoration; provided technical and grant writing assistance; helped to develop documents crucial to the continued success of the project and donated countless volunteer hours via the Salida-based TU Collegiate Peak Anglers Chapter...
Since its inception, TU has significantly improved the 64,323-acre watershed thanks to the landowners’ enthusiasm and support from governmental agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Improvements include over 6.5 miles of recuperated stream; over 53 acres treated; 289 in-stream structures; 4,000 feet of restored stream bank and four in-stream flow rights. The group has also acquired $415,000 in-kind donations, $2,096,306 received grant matches and 13,000 volunteer hours.
“I can’t say enough good things about the partnerships we have been able to build with the landowners and agencies,” TU Colorado Mine Restoration Project Manager Elizabeth Russell said. “It has just been great.”
Much of TU’s work is focused on restoring areas mine tailings have damaged. Mine tailings are materials left over after extraction of valuable minerals from ore. The nearly 100 years of mining that took place in the Bonanza area has left many tailings and impaired the creek’s water quality, aquatic invertebrate communities and fishery habitats, which the restoration efforts have been able to reverse to some degree and is evident in the returning fish population.
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Photo courtesy of Kerber Creek Restoration Project.