Habitat

CTU 50th Anniversary Film headed to Zimmerman Lake this summer (Behind the Scenes)

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On July 2, 2019 passionate TU volunteer and native trout angler, John Trammell headed up with CTU and Josh Duplechian of Trout Unlimited to participate in filming for CTU’s 50th Anniversary Film featuring the native trout work on Zimmerman Lake. Below is his personal account of the day. Enjoy!

John and his daughter Melissa.

John and his daughter Melissa.

MY LIFE AS A FLY FISHERMAN PART 21: Greenbacks and Zimmerman Lake

by John Trammell

Up front I’ll confess that not much of Part 21 is about fishing, but about what I observed at Zimmerman Lake on July 2 this year. What I saw was a team of government agencies and Trout Unlimited volunteers working scientifically and physically to preserve and propagate our state fish - the greenback cutthroat trout. I could not have been more impressed by the skills and hard work I saw. Really amazing.

Zimmerman lake is 40 miles east of Walden, near the continental divide, at 10,000+ feet elevation. It has a population of a few hundred greenbacks, placed there to become the source of eggs for the purpose of increasing the numbers of our state fish. On the day my daughter Melissa and I were there, the steep trail up to the lake was both rough and muddy, with numerous snowdrifts. (The day before, the workers had shoveled away drifts that were impassable to ATVs.)

The ancestors of the greenbacks in Zimmerman Lake were a small number of fish rescued from their only remaining natural habitat, Bear Creek near Colorado Springs, when the habitat was threatened by a wildfire. Being so few, when they’re artificially spawned it is important to preserve genetic diversity. Observing how that is done was fascinating - not only because of what was done, but how it was done under difficult field conditions.

When we arrived at the work site the fish were already being held in floating mesh pens. Wader-clad workers separated them into categories to be processed on a long table set up amid mud, snow and trippy exposed tree roots. They were given an anesthetic bath to make them more docile and to reduce shock while they were being processed.

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CPW’s project leader Kevin Rogers told me that his agency knows each greenback in the lake individually. Each has a little VIE tag behind its eye that he identifies to a person who then uses a hand-held electronic device to read an internal pittag. Each fish is described verbally (e.g, “ripe female, good condition; immature male”), its pittag recorded, measured, weighed, and photographed beside its PIT number. Then the fish is put into a five-gallon bucket of water, to recover from the anesthetic. This all occurs rapidly as the trout are passed down the table. This information is used to select males and females to have their eggs and milt combined. Records of the combinations are kept with the intent to achieve maximum genetic diversity.

After the anesthetic has worn off and the greenbacks are trying to swim out of the buckets, they are returned to the lake. Forest Ranger Chris Carrell hustled those 40-pound buckets down to the lake all afternoon, quickly returning the empties back to the table for more greenbacks. After a while, realizing the physical toll it was taking on him, Melissa helped. Although she wasn’t there as a representative of her agency, the National Park Service, she also helped with the work at the table. Being somewhat enfeebled by the trip up to the lake, I just sat, and observed.

Fertilized eggs are treated with an iodine solution, and taken to CPW’s Mt. Shavano hatchery to be hatched and reared for stocking into suitable waters. In addition to the objective of saving them from extinction, the aim is to have a sustainable population of greenbacks for Coloradoans to enjoy.

I’ve long been a fan of native cutthroat trout, so I’m grateful to the State of Colorado for going to the expense and trouble to save the greenbacks. And I’m grateful to the agency people and TU volunteers who do the work.

“I know I volunteer because I love trout, trout habitat, and trout fishing. Of those three, I think it’s the habitat I love best, and not just because without it we can’t have the other two. It’s because I just love it, everything about it. I get a thrill every time I approach a trout stream.”
— John Trammell

Restoring Rivers with Can'd Aid

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This summer, Colorado Trout Unlimited teamed up with Can’d Aid to help restore rivers in Colorado. Can’d Aid is a nonprofit organization that was founded as an immediate response to the massive flooding that devastated the towns of Lyons & Longmont, CO, in September 2013. Since then, the organization has been helping spread people powered do-goodery when and where it is needed most.

On July 13, volunteers generously came out to help restore a section of the Gore Creek in Vail, CO. This river has seen some hard times and have been labeled unhealthy since 2004. To help this river on it’s path to recovery, volunteers planted willows and lodgepole pines to anchor the heavily eroded riverbeds. This effort will protect the river from further erosion while also improving the habitat for fish and other wildlife. Colorado Trout Unlimited is proud to have partnered up with Can’d Aid, River Restoration Adventures for Tomorrow, Eagle Valley TU, and the City of Vail to make this a successful day!

Can’d Aid projects like this are supported through  Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water, which donates $1/case sold.

Did you know that you can replant a willow tree simply by cutting a branch and sticking it in the ground? They’re hearty plants that provide protection for riverbank erosion while also lending much-needed shade to fish and wildlife.
— Can'd Aid

On July 20, 2019, volunteers gathered at the Gunnison River to monitor last year’s progress and continue their work to help restore habitat in the Basin. Volunteers floated to the 2018 work site and found many of the willows that were planted the previous year growing strong - despite the severe drought in 2018 and high Spring flows in 2019. This was a promising sight to see the volunteer work was taking root!

Small but mighty: A patriotic super volunteer!

Small but mighty: A patriotic super volunteer!

Restoration work in 2019 took place beyond the banks of the Gunnison River. 25 volunteers spent the day building "one rock damns" in Dutch Gulch. These mulch damns slow the flow of water, prevent erosion and reconnect gullies to flood plains.

Ultimately, they trap sediment and extend flows in low water years - promoting long-term river health and grazing for deer, elk and the threatened Gunnison Sage Grouse! 

After a morning of intensive rock work, the group got on the river once again to celebrate a job well done.

Check out more pictures on the Can’d Aid facebook post here. Also, CBS 4 News shared a video of the day, see below!

The group from Can'd Aid Foundation worked to prevent erosion.

Thank you to all the people and organizations that volunteer their time to protect rivers in Colorado. Your efforts are crucial to the places we love to play, float, hike and fish!

Please follow and support our collaborative partners below!

Speak Up for South Park, the South Platte and the Arkansas Rivers

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The Bureau of Land Management’s Royal Gorge Field Office is currently revising the plan that will determine the future management of 658,000 acres of public lands in the Arkansas and South Platte river drainages in eastern Colorado, and local sportsmen and women are encouraged to take part. These public lands offer world-class trout fishing, crucial habitat for Colorado’s most iconic wildlife, and some of the best backcountry hunting opportunities in close proximity to the Front Range.

Please attend a local public meeting (schedule below) in the next few weeks to share your perspective as a public land user and ensure that anglers have a say about the places where we love to fish. These events will offer updates on the planning process, allow the public to share their ideas and opinions on the draft plan, and suggest ways for citizens to stay involved.

This is your opportunity to voice concerns and make recommendations on how our public lands are managed. The 90-day comment period on the BLM’s Draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement closes Sept. 20, 2019.

Where and When:

  • Canon City - The Abbey Event Center, Benedict Room, 2951 East Hwy. 50, Canon City, CO 81212 - July 9 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Fairplay - Foss Smith Multipurpose Room, 640 Hathaway Street, Fairplay, CO 80440 - July 11 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Walsenburg - Washington School, Auditorium, 201 E. Fifth Street, Walsenburg, CO 81089 - July 15 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Denver - Denver Marriott West, Monart Room, 1717 Denver West Blvd., Golden, CO 80401 - July 18 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Colorado Springs - Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 - July 22 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Greeley - Greeley Recreation Center, Room 101 ABC, 651 10th Ave, Greeley, CO 80631 - July 23 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

You can read the Draft Plan here.

Online COMMENTS:

Can’t make a public meeting? Comments are being accepted online here.

Just click the “Comment on Document” button.

Suggested Talking Points:

Arkansas River.

Arkansas River.

Protection of aquatic wildlife, stream health and Gold Medal fisheries: We are asking that the BLM establish and maintain strict stipulations for surface occupancy for oil and gas development surrounding bodies of water containing or designated for introduction of native cutthroat trout (400 meter buffer) and those designated as Gold Medal Trout Waters (805 meter buffer) along the South Platte and Arkansas river drainages. The current draft includes these stipulations but they need to be maintained through the final plan.

Conservation of unfragmented, functional habitats: We ask that the BLM safeguard our best hunting and fishing areas by adopting the Backcountry Conservation Area (BCA) management tool designed to conserve important big game habitat, prioritize active habitat restoration and enhancement, and support important public access for hunting, angling and other forms of recreation.

Conservation of big game migration corridors and seasonal habitat: We’d like to see the BLM take steps to ensure the conservation of identified big game migration corridors and winter range. This should not only include corridors that have already been mapped and analyzed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but also ensure that the RMP is flexible enough to conserve migration corridors that will be mapped in the future.

Public access: Public access is necessary for outdoor recreation and we encourage the BLM to identify opportunities to increase access to public lands that are landlocked or difficult to access because there are few or no access points across private land that allow the public to reach BLM lands.

Community-driven planning: We support conservation measures to maintain the scenic, wildlife, and recreational values of the South Park valley, and the management direction for this iconic Colorado landscape should align closely with the community recommendations developed by local stakeholder groups along with Park County.

Native Trout Need Your Help

Young Greenback Cutthroat Native Trout.  Photo by: Neal Bullock/2018

Young Greenback Cutthroat Native Trout.

Photo by: Neal Bullock/2018

After an epic snow year, Spring has finally settled in Colorado - which means great fishing and that Greenback recovery projects are just around the corner!

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The Greenback Cutthroat Trout, once declared extinct, is making a comeback in Colorado – thanks in large part to agency partners and the hundreds of volunteers that have helped spawn, stock, and restore habitat over the past few years.  2019 is poised to be the biggest year yet for Greenback recovery projects and we need your help!  Follow the linked opportunities below to see how you can make a difference for this threatened species and be a part of this historic recovery effort!

Colorado TU works closely with our agency partners to support recovery projects with funding and volunteers.  Your help with spawning, stocking, habitat restoration, and citizen science goes a long way.

Thank you for helping to recover this critical trout species and we look forward to seeing you out there!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Click any opportunity below to learn more and sign up.

Colorado leaders join bipartisan rally to help save LWCF

LWCFCoalition.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2018

CONTACT: Justin Bartolomeo

(202) 789-4365

jbartolomeo@hdmk.org

Bipartisan Conservation Champions Rally to Save LWCF by Year’s End

Washington, D.C. – Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) champions in the House and Senate rallied on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with conservation leaders and outdoor recreation advocates today calling on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund America’s most important conservation and recreation program before the end of the year.

"Two months ago, America lost one of its best conservation tools,” said Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior and head of External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps protect national parks, expand outdoor recreation opportunities and bolster local economies, all at no cost to the American taxpayer. It’s too important to continue leaving its future in doubt. Now more than ever, we have the bipartisan momentum to get LWCF the permanent reauthorization and full funding it deserves. For the protection of our lands, waters and the benefits their conservation bring to communities and our economy, now is the time to save LWCF.”

“Colorado’s beautiful public lands rely on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Congress needs to ensure it remains in place for years to come,” said Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). “I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we do what is right and permanently reauthorize and fully fund this vital outdoors conservation program.”

“The expiration of a widely popular program like LWCF demonstrates just how broken Washington is. If we don’t want to find ourselves in this exact position again down the road, we must permanently reauthorize LWCF. And if we want to grow our outdoor recreation economy and protect treasured landscapes, we must fully fund it. I’ll keep working across the aisle to find a solution that gives this conservation tool the longevity and funding it deserves,” said Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“Since it was enacted 54 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect many of the nation’s most popular national parks, forests, and public lands. It has provided millions of Americans the opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, vacation and enjoy the beauty of nature and our great American landscapes,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “It has pumped billions of dollars into the outdoor economy and provided millions of good jobs.

“Protecting our public lands is good for the environment, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for the health and welfare of our people. Money made available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund is money well spent,” Senator Cantwell added.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund remains the single most successful conservation program in American history,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). “Nearly every congressional district in the country benefits from its funding – at no cost to the taxpayer – and millions enjoy the parks, ballfields, and landscapes it maintains every day. My colleagues and I will continue to push for a permanent reauthorization of this important program.

About the Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For more than 50 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, access to recreation including hunting and fishing, and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast. LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments. Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute more than $887 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 7.6 million jobs.

About the LWCF Coalition

The LWCF Coalition is comprised of more than 1,000 state and regional conservation and recreation organizations of all sizes, land owners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, the outdoor recreation industry and conservationists working together to protect America’s public lands and safeguard our shared outdoor heritage for future generations. The Coalition is united in its advocacy for the permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will ensure the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, civil war battlefields, working lands and state and local parks. For more information on LWCF and the places in each state that LWCF funds have protected, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.

Request for Proposals: Fish Passage and Ditch Diversion Improvement

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Trout Unlimited (TU), in coordination with the Town of Granby (Town), Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is soliciting Proposals for Design Services for a diversion structure on the Fraser River in Granby, Colorado.  Proposals shall be received by TU via U.S. Mail and email by no later than January 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm at the following address:

Mely Whiting

P.O. Box 1544

Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

mwhiting@tu.org

Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at mwhiting@tu.org by December 21, 2018.  Only those contractors that submit an “intent to submit proposals” will be considered for a final proposal. The intent to submit proposal should list the primary contact and their contact information.

Consulting services shall be led by a primary Contractor, whose team should include appropriate fish passage engineers/scientists, river modeling and scour analysis experts, ditch diversion designers, and experience in water rights related to ditch diversions in Colorado. Contractor selection will be made through a combination of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) and Cost Based Processes as described in this Request for Proposals (RFP). Please refer to the following sections for details on the project, conditions, schedule, proposal requirements, and selection process.

QUESTIONS and ONSITE FIELD VISIT

An onsite, field visit will occur on November 28, 2018 to answer questions about the project aspects.  Interested contractors are highly encouraged to attend.  Please meet at the Town of Granby Town Hall, Zero Jasper Avenue, Granby, Colorado at 2:00 pm on November 28, 2018. All questions relating to this RFP should be addressed to Mely Whiting by email, at mwhiting@tu.org.  Questions are due in writing by no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 5, 2018.  All questions will be addressed in one batch with answers sent out to all recipients by December 14, 2018.

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • November 14, 2018 Request For Proposals Announced

  • November 28, 2018 2:00pm Onsite Field Visit and Answer Questions at the Town of Grandby Town Hall

  • December 5, 2018 5:00pm All Questions due in writing by December to Mely Whiting by email, at mwhiting@tu.org

  • December 21, 2018 Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at mwhiting@tu.org

  • January 4, 2018 at 5:00pm Proposals shall be receivd by TU via U.S. Mail and email by no later than at the following address:

    Mely Whiting

    P.O. Box 1544

    Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

    mwhiting@tu.org

    Please download the full proposal details and requirements by clicking the button below:

Hermosa 416 Fire Update: Spreading into Native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout habitat

High Quality map available for download  here .

High Quality map available for download here.

Update from National TU Staffer, Ty Churchwell, San Juan Mountains Coordinator & Sportsmen’s Conservation Project:

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The 416 fire that started June 1, 2018 located 13 miles north of Durango, CO is currently over 35,000 acres large and is at 36% contained as of June 27, 2018 (seen in red outline & fill). Currently, the fire has encroached upon a large section of an isolated native cutthroat population along Clear Creek (traced with blue in the bottom left corner). You can see that most of that drainage has been hit. Clear Creek has been hit hard and currently burning more.

The middle-left creek, Big Bend, also highlighted in blue is currently an isolated population of native cutthroats that are held safe from invasives by a natural waterfall. The other blue lines at the top of the map indicated where the reintroduction program waters are. The basin continues north along with the reintroduction program, but the map cuts off about 1/4 of that. The reintroduction program and Big Bend are clear of fire right now. 

It’s mostly burning back on itself with about 100 acres of additional acreage in recent days.  There are two hot spots:  1) very near/at Clear Creek’s top end.  2)  in the interior of Hermosa burning NW towards Big Bend.  

Currently, updates are being posted on the 416 Facebook page here.

Volunteers make way for Greenback trout recovery efforts along Rock Creek

Volunteers working to dislodge a disruptive beaver dam along Rock Creek drainage in Colorado. Image courtesy of:  Basin+Bend . 

Volunteers working to dislodge a disruptive beaver dam along Rock Creek drainage in Colorado. Image courtesy of: Basin+Bend

On June 21, 2018, volunteers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff met between Fairplay and Grant, CO to work on helping take down beaver dams along the Rock Creek drainage. The Rock Creek drainage is a critical piece of the Greenback recovery puzzle and will provide nearly eight miles of connected stream habitat once the project is completed.  With the help of Trout Unlimited volunteers and chapters, agency partners, and private landowners, there are 4.5 miles of stream that are currently being prepared for greenback reintroduction in the next 2-3 years.  The project below will help make progress on the remaining 3.4 miles of critical habitat.

Last Thursday, volunteers focused on removing beaver dams from sections of the Rock Creek drainage in order to help CPW treat the area for Whirling Disease and non-native brook trout. Volunteers hiked up about a mile and used various tools to help dislodge the dams that were blocking creek flows. A huge thank you to all the volunteers for all their hard work, which resulted in the second scheduled day of work not being needed! Nice job, everyone! If you are interested in future projects, we have upcoming ones listed here

To learn more about Native trout and restoration projects across Colorado check out our page here. Check out the great pictures taken by Erik Myhre of Basin+Bend in Evergreen, CO. 

Pictures courtesy of Basin+Bend

VIDEO: Reintroduction of Native Greenback Trout in Estes Park, CO

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Join Alpine Anglers Trout Unlimited Chapter as they head out to the Big Thompson for a day of fishing. Learn about the important work going on in the area in regards to habitat restoration to help with the reintroduction of native Greenback Cutthroat Trout. Check out the great video below and learn more about what the chapter is doing here.

Learn about fishing the Big Thompson and other waters surrounding Estes Park, Colorado, along with the reintroduction of the Greenback Cutthroat Trout.

Fun Fact Friday: Oh, the mighty Colorado River

Fun Fact Friday: Oh, the mighty Colorado River! Its history is quite impressive as it broke through the Grand Canyon about 5 million years ago. Evidence also suggests that the Colorado River was flowing through the Rocky Mountains as they were still forming. This river has influenced much of the beautiful geology we see across the west today. All along the Colorado River system, anglers can find largemouth bass, rainbow trout, channel catfish, black crappie, walleye and striped bass. If you have not checked out the interview we did with Kirk Klancke, president of the Colorado River Headwaters TU Chapter, about restoring flows to one of the first main tributaries of the Colorado River, then be sure to check it out here.