At the 2014 Rendezvous, Colorado TU presented its annual awards for outstanding contributions by chapters and individuals at the evening awards banquet. Colorado TU presented its “Trout Conservation Award”, recognizing outstanding contributions by TU partners, to Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Ken Kehmeier for his leadership in developing mitigation plans for water projects. Kehmeier’s efforts helped secure mitigation commitments to protect fishery resources in association with the Chatfield, Moffat, and Windy Gap projects. He has also been a leader in developing the proposed collaborative project for native trout restoration in the Poudre headwaters.
The “Trout Communication Award”, recognizing leadership in public education and communications around river conservation, went to Dan Crabtree, recently retired from the Bureau of Reclamation. Under Dan’s leadership, the Bureau’s Aspinall public stakeholder meetings – held three times a year to coordinate operations on the Bureau’s Gunnison River dams – became a valuable forum for constructive dialogue between the agency and its stakeholders, and helped create a new spirit of cooperation.
As “Outstanding Guide & Outfitter”, Colorado TU honored Freestone Outfitters’ Clint Packo. Clint helped develop the concepts for Colorado TU’s “Protect Our Rivers” corporate donation program and stepped up with a “Round Up For Rivers” program with Freestone itself – through which clients are invited to “round up” their purchase of a trip with an extra $25 donation for conservation. Each donation is matched by Freestone. In addition, Clint helped develop the innovative Hartsel Easy Access Recreation Trail with the Cherry Creek Anglers Chapter, providing an outstanding new angling opportunity on the Middle Fork South Platte for mobility-impaired anglers.
Colorado TU recognized two of its own “Outstanding Volunteers” as well. Mike Nicholson was honored for his volunteer work as director of Colorado TU’s annual youth conservation camp, which he has guided into being a flagship program for engaging Colorado high schoolers with river conservation and angling. Ric Tarr was honored for his 32 years of commitment as a volunteer with the West Denver chapter, stepping in wherever help was needed and providing leadership around chapter programs for both youth education and public education.
The Rocky Mountain Flycasters were recognized as “Exemplary Chapter” for their outstanding programs across the spectrum – strong community engagement, outstanding communications, vibrant youth programs including a summer day camp, and meaningful conservation projects. In particular, the chapter was recognized for its leadership in promoting watershed health in the aftermath of two natural disasters effecting its home waters on the Poudre and Big Thompson Rivers – the 2012 High Park fire and the 2013 floods.
The West Denver Chapter was honored both for “Outstanding Communications” and “Exemplary Youth Education”. The Chapter was recognized for its first-rate “Angler’s Edge” newsletter and effective website, and for youth programming that includes a long-standing partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools Outdoor Lab through which 6th graders get a week of in-the-field outdoor education experience.
Two chapters were recognized with “Exemplary Project” awards. The Colorado Headwaters Chapter was honored for its long-standing, and very effective, campaign for public engagement behind protection of the Fraser River basin in the face of expanding water diversions. The “Save the Fraser” campaign recently culiminated with an innovative agreement among TU, Grand County, and Denver Water for collaboration in conserving habitat in the watershed. The Yampa Valley Flyfishers were recognized for their multi-year project, operating in coordination with their close partners with the Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust, recently completed a multi-year project investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in restoring quality habitat on the Yampa River in the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area.
In addition to Colorado TU’s annual awards, the Silver Trout Foundation presented its “Silver Trout” award – the highest honor for contributions to coldwater conservation in Colorado, recognizing lifetime efforts – to two individuals: Colorado TU past president Sinjin Eberle and Colorado TU Lobbyist Jen Boulton. Sinjin was recognized for his effective leadership of Colorado TU, overseeing a period of strong financial and program growth and contributing his significant marketing and communications skills to successful campaigns to protect the Fraser and Upper Colorado Rivers. Jen was recognized for her nearly 20 years of service as a lobbyist duing which she helped Colorado TU to secure legislation strengthening instream flow programs, water quality protections, and funding for habitat protection and fishing access – as well as holding off countless attacks on laws for protection of natural resources.
Congratulations – and thank you – to all of this year’s awardees!