It's a beautiful, warm day in August at Nova Guides Lodge, or at least it was on August 15th when families, competitors and staff from the World Youth Fly Fishing Championships all gathered there for the Colorado TU co-sponsored event: the Family Fly Fishing Festival and Conservation Symposium. This past Saturday, the Lodge at Camp Hale was filled with a plethora of people milling about enjoying all that the event had to offer. The stunning scenery and temperate climate allowed for fly fishing to take precedence over almost everything else; although, Garrett Hanks, CTU's coordinator for the event, made sure there was something for everyone. Entomology, fly tying, fish art, and a conservation symposium, during which Holly Loff, Kendall Bakich, and Marcus Selig spoke on pertinent conservation issues, were the other activities offered.
The festival activities were not the only thing the attendees enjoyed, many were also pleased to see kids and adults alike interacting with each other in such a positive manner. "Fly fishing can be very bonding," one staff member of FIPS Mouche, the International Sport Flyfishing Federation, said. "It builds friendships." That's just one of the many benefits of having an event like this. The conservation symposium in combination with fly fishing and other activities allowed people to come together to share a common interest as well as learn something new.
The conservation focus of the symposium was on recovery of the Eagle River from its legacy of habitat damage and mine pollution - an issue made more poignant by the recent Gold King Mine spill on the Animas River. Holly Loff from the Eagle River Watershed Council spoke on an equally damaging spill from the Eagle Mine that occurred in the 80's. Years after the mine closed, it flooded over into the Eagle River causing a disaster even more striking than the one recently on the Animas River. Although the results of the spill was devastating, Loff emphasized the successful steps that were taken to bring the trout back to the Eagle River, and hopes to see the same thing happen with the Animas River. Kendall Bakich from Colorado Parks and Wildlife discussed how crucial it is to monitor fish health in order to restore fish populations to a healthy, normal range. Marcus Selig added an update on efforts to complete a major riparian and wetlands restoration program in Camp Hale. The speakers were an important part of the event, not only because they shined a positive light on an otherwise bleak situation, but because they further demonstrated how conservation and fly fishing go hand in hand. After all, we wouldn't have beautiful places to fish in if we didn't put in a conscious effort to conserve them.
The Family Fly FIshing Festival and Conservation Symposium was just one part of the larger events surrounding the 2015 World Youth Fly Fishing Championships. Team USA didn't let their "home water advantage" go to waste and successfully defended their team gold medals. Check out the feature in Colorado Outdoors for more on the Youth Championships.