Aaron Kindle, Colorado Field Coordinator, SCP

My name is Aaron Kindle. I am the Colorado Field Coordinator for National Trout Unlimited's Sportsmen's Conservation Project or SCP. The SCP is essentially the public lands protection arm of TU. We work in three main program areas: energy development, off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and backcountry protection. I have been with TU for three years now and have worked on several issues you are probably familiar with - the Colorado Roadless Rule, energy development in the White River Basin, and travel management planning across the state. I'm currently engaged in efforts across Colorado in all three of our program areas. One you may have heard of is the Thompson Divide. This area is a unique 200,000 plus acre landscape just west of Carbondale. We are engaged there due to the outstanding fish and wildlife habitat, including several cutthroat trout populations, and the potential for energy development. Our goal is to pass legislation to permanently withdraw the area from future development and to broker deals with energy companies to buy, retire or exchange currently held leases.

I also work just south of the Thompson Divide in Gunnison County. Last year Senator Michael Bennet began a process to examine the potential for protective designations for federal lands in the county. Gunnsion County is a sportsmen's haven, boasting abundant world class fish and wildlife habitat. We are working to with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to determine the most appropriate ways to protect the outstanding values of the area. Keep an eye out for more on this effort in the coming months.

In the realm of off-highway vehicles, I have two main campaigns. The first one is working in the state legislature to pass a bill requiring that all OHVs have visibly identifiable license plates. We regularly hear from wildlife officials and sportsmen that they witness off-highway users violate laws but lack a mechanism for identifying these violators. We want to change that and believe that visible identification in the form of license plates is the  essential tool to effective management of OHVs.  The second campaign I work on is Bear Creek. Bear Creek is a small stream near Colorado Springs that holds the one and only population of wild greenback cutthroat trout. Poor management and user abuse, including poorly managed OHV use, has caused the degradation of this stream. We are working diligently with trail users, agency officials and members of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of TU to correct the problems, restore the stream and implement a sustainable management scheme to ensure the persistence of these rare fish. TU has also developed a nationally recognized OHV program, dubbed Sportsmen Ride Right, to address many issues related to OHV use on public lands. Look for us at rideright.org.

If you have any questions or comments about the work I do, please do not hesitate to contact me. I enjoy working with chapter members across the state and find their knowledge invaluable to many of my campaigns so please do get in touch when a public lands issue arises in your neck of the woods.

Aaron Kindle - akindle@tu.org or 303-868-2859