The San Luis Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (SLVTU) has been working on a Fishing is Fun project on the Hidden Mile along the Conejos River in cooperation with the US Forest Service (USFS), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Conejos River Anglers Fly Shop and FlyWaters Inc.
It has taken several years for project leader, David Kenvin and other volunteers to get grants, permits and environmental statements. But this summer the actual work commenced. The project consists of stream and riparian improvement of 3/4 of a mile of the Conejos River on Rio Grande National Forest property. The fish habitat has been degraded from years of trespass grazing. The project includes placement of 300 rocks and twenty wood structures, the improvement of pool and riffle ratios by channel dredge and fill, construction of a parking lot, fencing the entire property to exclude livestock and planting willows to stabilize stream banks.
The total project cost is $96,000 with SLVTU providing $20,000 in cash and volunteer labor worth over $7,800. Conejos River Anglers will provide $500 for signing. The USFS is providing fencing material and more than 200 hours of labor. A $67,000 grant from CPW’s Fishing is Fun Program completes the project’s funding. CPW and FlyWaters Inc. will be coordinating the stream improvement portion of the project which is timed for the last two weeks of September 2015.
SLVTU is a small chapter of just over a hundred members. Money needed for the cash contribution was raised through our annual auctions and donations from the Conejos River Anglers Super Fly contest. This spring and summer, several volunteers have given more than 425 hours of work building 4-strand barbed wire fence surrounding the riparian zone and floating PVC river-crossing fence at the lower and upper ends of the Hidden Mile. In the spring of 2016 we anticipate another 90 hours of volunteer work in planting willows along the stream to complete the project.