Two recent Durango Herald Articles talk about the improvements of the Animas and the future of Hermosa Creek. Trout Unlimited has been on the forefront on both of these positive subjects. The Animas River has shown signs of improvement as the fish population is providing "encouraging" signs. As the Animas continues to face adversity and hardship from acid mine drainage, low water flows, urban runoff, and higher temperature, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have seen encouraging signs.
Over the last decade population studies on the Animas have shown a decline. Although this year there wasn't a turn around, CPW Biologist Jim White told the Durango Herald, "It's been a really nice fish year. It’s definitely been more abundant than years past.”
The study showed more young brown trout were able to survive over winter. Rainbow trout also had plentiful numbers meaning the survival rate was rising. The amount of quality trout- 14 inches or higher- doubled from last year's study.
“There is promising news about the current condition of the fishery, even in this first summer after the ‘spill,” said Ty Churchwell, Trout Unlimited Backcountry Coordinator. “With that said, none of this should diminish the fact that we have a major problem in the top of the watershed with draining mines and poor water quality. The Animas gorge below Silverton remains a ‘dead’ stretch of river, and we have lots of work to do to make this watershed healthy as a whole.”
While the Animas is improving, the future of Cutthroat Trout in Hermosa Creek also have a bright future as stream improvements have been made to prepare for Colorado River Cutthroat reintroduction.
Vegetation was planted and spawning areas were made along the stream to sustain a healthy future Cutthroat population.
At the October Board Meeting, participants will be able to take a tour of Hermosa Creek. The tour will focus on sites with the native trout project and visit some habitat improvements, tour participants will walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to work together and pull off a truly comprehensive conservation program.