The Five Rivers Chapter and its partners have been selected for a US Forest Service Rise to the Future Award for their Hermosa Creek project efforts. The award will be presented by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell at a formal ceremony in Washington, DC in May. Chapter President Buck Skillen will be on hand to accept the award. The Chapter, based in Durango, will receive the US Forest Service's national “Rise to the Future Award for Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship." According to the Forest Service, the Chapter, along with partners at Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the San Juan National Forest, and the Mountain Studies Institute, are being “recognized for their commitment to restore native Colorado River cutthroat trout to a portion of their historic range and share that with students.”
Work toward restoration of cutthroat trout has been taking place since the 1990s in the Hermosa Creek drainage – which was also recently protected as a first-of-its-kind federally designated Watershed Protection Area through legislation sponsored by Senator Bennet and Congressman Tipton. The Five Rivers Chapter has assisted with funding and volunteers for stream improvement and riparian planting projects, helping the agencies as more than 17 miles of Hermosa Creek have been secured for genetically pure cutthroat trout populations. The Mountain Studies Institute has also partnered in providing volunteer support and in using the projects as a working stream laboratory to hold field classes for students Fort Lewis College.
Hermosa Creek is an amazing example of TU working at all levels as both advocates and as on-the-ground restorers. The Rise to the Future award is the latest success story for Five Rivers and its long-term efforts on behalf of Hermosa Creek. And the chapter and its partners are certainly not sitting on their laurels - work continues toward connecting separate recovered habitats into a combined “metapopulation” above a downstream barrier point on Hermosa Creek.
Congratulations, Five Rivers TU - and keep up the great work!