Press/PR

Rare Hayden Cutthroats have a new home!

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Editor’s Note:

Rick Helmick, Director on the Collegiate Peaks TU Chapter Board, brings us a story about 4,500 rare Cutthroat offspring being released into their new home, Cottonwood Creek, after their original home was destroyed by the Hayden Pass wildfire, which burned more than 16,000 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Range three summers ago.  July 1, 2019 the offspring were released into the wild by officials of Colorado Parks and Wildlife accompanied by 40 staff and volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited.

Rare Hayden Cutthroats have a new home!

by Rick Helmick, Director on the Collegiate Peaks TU Chapter Board

It was a dark, ominous, and rainy day ahead of the forty of us, and two mules, as we gathered at the base of the Sangre de Cristo’s, west of Westcliffe, at the Venable Trailhead. All we had to do was carry the offspring of the 158 rare Cutthroats, saved out of Hayden Creek, right in the middle of that 2016 Wildfire that eventually burned 17,000 acres, and destroyed the Cutts that lived there.

When USFS Fisheries Biologist Janelle Valladares called for CPC-TU’s help, we put out the word and had incredible response from volunteers - even as far away as Missouri, and a member from the Southern Colorado Greenbacks Chapter in Pueblo, CO.

What an incredible experience. We are forever grateful for having this experience, Thank you!
— Amber, Volunteer from Missouri
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It was a hard and long trip up this mountain, which did everything but snow on us July 1st (although it did sleet), as the volunteers carried 20 pound bags of 70-80 fingerlings each, and the heavy lifting done by mules carrying panniers all the way to the top. 4,500 of these rare Cutthroats only found in Hayden Creek, now have a new home in Cottonwood Creek!

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It was a huge, and combined effort, of CPW, USFS, TU, Trails for All, and some great public volunteers! CPW plans on several more stockings of additional Hayden Creek Cutthroats, in various other high mountain streams. Thanks to the Collegiate Peaks Chapter for responding to CPW’s call for assistance! We all sincerely hope for the survival of these genetically rare Cutthroat, in their new home.

In the News

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2019/07/08/cutthroat-fingerlings-hayden-pass-wildfire-cottonwood-creek/218721/

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/four-legged-workers-help-colorado-parks-and-wildlife-restore-rare-trout-to-hayden-creek

https://gazette.com/news/rare-indigenous-trout-species-reintroduced-to-colorado/article_84bb75fc-a1c5-11e9-96fc-ab1a52c749a0.html

http://www.cpr.org/2017/07/20/spared-the-wrath-of-wildfire-colorados-hayden-creek-trout-are-on-the-comeback/

From CTU: Thank you Rick for the great recap of the day - what an amazing project!

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.

That "bucket list" trip to Argentina is now yours

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A group of 8 lucky anglers will spend a week chasing Golden Dorado and enjoying fine food and wine in Argentina. Guests will join the wonderful crew at Andes Drifters and Parana on the Fly April 4-11, 2020 for 7 nights of accommodations and 6 full days of world-class fishing.
 
During the first half of this combination trip, anglers will pursue Dorado for 3 days in the world-renowned Iberá Wetlands (Esteros del Iberá), the second largest wetlands in South America. In 2018 the Argentine Government granted Andes Drifters sole outfitter fishing access to a large portion of the marsh. Anglers will have the opportunity to chase Dorado in this vast, unspoiled environment. This mecca, which just recently became available to anglers, is sure to produce a lifetime supply of memories and fish stories.
 
From there, anglers will enjoy 3 full days fishing for large Dorado on the upper Parana River. Deluxe lodging and top flight meals will be provided by Parana on the Fly Lodge. The lodge is located just 30 yards from a private dock where a fleet of modern motorized skiffs will be waiting to whisk anglers away to chase their quarry!
 
This deluxe package includes lodging, guides, boats, tackle (if desired), all meals, wine and beverages. Anglers should expect to land a variety of different sized Dorado during this trip. Fish ranging in size from 4 to 12 pounds are quite common and each season several trophy fish above 40 pounds are landed. 

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Andes Drifters will donate 15% of the cost of each trip back to Colorado TU to support river and fisheries conservation work around the state! In addition to being a great supporter of Colorado TU, Andes Drifters goes above and beyond to ensure a memorable and stress-free experience for its guests. Anglers on the 2019 Colorado TU trip to Argentina had a blast! Space is limited--reserve your spot before its gone!

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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.

CTU Recognizes Outstanding Contributions to Trout Conservation

Pictured: Awardee Kevin Rogers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist and researcher.

Pictured: Awardee Kevin Rogers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist and researcher.

At the annual Rendezvous at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colorado TU presented its annual awards recognizing volunteers, chapters, and partners who have made exemplary contributions to TU and trout conservation in Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist and researcher Kevin Rogers received the Trout Conservation Award. Kevin is a long-time native species researcher and has been an instrumental part of native cutthroat trout restoration efforts and developing and understanding the underlying science – including the new insights that have been gained about the different genetic lineages of cutthroat that guide restoration efforts statewide now. For years, Kevin has provided the scientific and moral leadership that guides cutthroat conservation and recovery statewide.

Black Canyon Anglers were honored as the Exemplary Guide & Outfitter for 2019. Black Canyon Anglers has been a long-time financial support of Trout Unlimited’s conservation efforts, including multiple years of providing a statewide raffle prize that has generated tens of thousands of dollars in proceeds. Additionally they have been active participants and provided logistical support for conservation efforts in the Gunnison Gorge including programs to help re-establish rainbow trout populations in the face of whirling disease.

Anglers All being presented with the Exemplary Industry Partner award from CTU.

Anglers All being presented with the Exemplary Industry Partner award from CTU.

Anglers All was recognized as the Exemplary Industry Partner. Through direct support and special events including their annual Trout Clave, Anglers All has generated thousands of dollars to support trout conservation in Colorado. Additionally they have been active partners on restoration and river cleanup efforts along the Denver South Platte.

Colorado TU presented two Distinguished Service Awards this year. The first went to volunteer leader Peter King with the Cutthroat Chapter for his successful efforts to link Trout Unlimited with new corporate funding partners, opening doors for support for youth education efforts from notable companies including Anadarko Petroleum and Conoco Phillips. The second went to Patrick, Miller and Noto LLC, a Carbondale based law firm that provided pro bono legal assistance to Colorado TU and American Rivers in the successful effort to eliminate the threat of Aspen-owned dams being build on Maroon and Castle Creeks including in the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness.

Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter received the Exemplary Chapter award (middle right) as well as the Outstanding Volunteer award going to member Phil Wright. (middle left)

Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter received the Exemplary Chapter award (middle right) as well as the Outstanding Volunteer award going to member Phil Wright. (middle left)

The Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter (Ft Collins/Loveland/Greeley) was recognized as this year’s Exemplary Chapter. The Chapter was recognized for its strong community engagement programs around the Cache la Poudre River, its leadership with the ambitious Poudre Headwaters Restoration Project to restore greenback cutthroat trout through nearly 40 miles of headwater streams, and its strong youth education efforts including an annual youth day camp.

The Exemplary Youth Education Award was presented to the Collegiate Peaks Anglers for their partnership with the Greater Arkansas River Nature Center on the new South

Arkansas Ecological Learning Center and their model “Stream Explorers” program for youth education in the Salida area.

The John Connolly Outstanding Chapter Communications Award was presented to the Five Rivers Chapter. The chapter was recognized for its newly revamped website, social media, and email communication efforts including partnership efforts with local fly fishing and women’s groups to help broaden their reach in the Durango community.

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Two chapters were recognized with the Exemplary Project Award. First, the Gunnison Angling Society was honored for its Adopt-a-Trout project, which combined STEM-based youth education while providing data that helped establish the foundation for new water leasing programs with agricultural producers in the valley and helped build stronger relationships among diverse local partners. Additionally, the Denver Chapter was honored for its “Long Underwater Non-Kinetic Embankment Replacement” structures (“LUNKER” structures) that provide shelter for aquatic life from current and predation, mimicking the natural habitat of an undercut bank in the highly modified Denver South Platte where natural undercut banks no longer exist.

Taila Oulton receiving an Outstanding Volunteer award for her work with the Colorado TU Youth Camp.

Taila Oulton receiving an Outstanding Volunteer award for her work with the Colorado TU Youth Camp.

Finally, Colorado TU recognized five Outstanding Volunteers from various chapters across the state. Keith Krebs was recognized for his work with the Collegiate Peaks chapter in advancing the Ecological Learning Center as well as overall chapter leadership. Taila Oulton was honored for her seven years of participation as a counselor with the Colorado TU Youth Camp – as a former camper and young adult, Taila has not only shared her significant fly fishing knowledge but been a relatable role model for younger campers. Barbara Plake was honored for her work in launching and growing the Collegiate Peaks chapter’s “Fly Gals” program from 5 to more than 100 participants as well as managing the chapter scholarship program and Caddis Festival banquet. Dan Sullivan was recognized for leadership with the West Denver Chapter and in particular for his work in improving chapter communications and helping to expand participation in chapter events and volunteer projects. Phil Wright from the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter was recognized for his work with native trout conservation efforts in the Poudre watershed including stream temperature monitoring of potential recovery habitats, assisting agency biologists with field work in preparation for restoration the Poudre headwaters, and developing community outreach efforts around the recovery project.

A hearty congratulations to all of our 2019 award winners – with deep thanks for all they have done to benefit Trout Unlimited and coldwater conservation.

A Good Year for Trout at the Capitol

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Legislative Recap

By Jen Boulton, CTU Legislative Liaison

The 2019 session was one of the most intense in recent years. There was some Washington DC level obstruction on numerous bills; which led to some very long days, and even longer nights. After the dust settled, however, the conservation community achieved some remarkable successes.

One of the highest priorities for CTU was HB1113 to revamp some of the hard rock mining laws in the state. Most notably, the bill prohibited reliance on perpetual water treatment for newly permitted mines. Under the previously existing law, companies could apply for permits knowing that perpetual mine drainage pollution would result from their activities. In fact, the policy of the State of Colorado hasn’t allowed the practice for several years; but with passage of HB1113, the practice is prohibited by law so our streams and rivers are less reliant on the policies of a single department. HB1113 also prohibited the use of “self-bonding” for recovery on mining sites. Self bonding allowed companies to claim that a healthy corporate balance sheet negated the need to post bonds in order to ensure sufficient resources for reclamation. Lastly, the bill gave specific authority to State regulators to require bonds to protect water quality, rather than solely for surface reclamation. Put together, these provisions will help ensure that future mining operations are required to operate responsibly and in a manner that adequately restores the environments where mining takes place.

Another key measure was passage of the oil and gas regulation bill. One of the biggest obstacles to updating regulations on the oil and gas industry to protect streams and rivers has been the statutory provision that the agency responsible for regulation has also been required to foster development of oil and gas resources. That dual mission has led to significant difficulties in protecting water quality, as well as public health and safety. There has been a tremendous amount of misinformation circulated about this bill. It was absolutely not a resurrection of the 2018 ballot measure on setbacks – a measure that Colorado TU did not support. In fact, the word setback wasn’t even in the bill.

The bill actually addressed two major issues, and several smaller issues to streamline the process and improve transparency. First it removed the requirement that the State foster development. Instead, it made the regulatory agency responsible solely for regulating the industry. Second, the bill gave increased authority to local governments to regulate the siting of facilities in accordance with their land use policy. This provision was one of the most contentious. Industry claimed that the resulting patchwork of regulations would make development prohibitively expensive. Ironically, the bill merely put the oil and gas industry on the same footing with all other commercial and residential development, which was already subject to regulation and permitting by each local jurisdiction in the State.

On a more disappointing note, we were unable to pass HB1218, a bill that would have expanded the existing program allowing temporary leasing of water for protection of instream flows. The bill expanded the existing program from allowing temporary leases three years in a single ten year period; to allowing up to five years of leasing in ten, with renewal for up to two additional ten year terms. This program has already been used to help keep more water in drought-stricken streams, including three times (through 2018) on the Yampa River where leasing partnerships with the local water conservancy district have been essential in maintaining the fishery through drought years.  Unfortunately, the opposition was strong enough to derail the bill, and force it into a discussion during the Summer at the water resources and review committee.

Stay tuned: this fight will be back next year.

National Trout Unlimited is hiring in Colorado!

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POSITION DESCRIPTION TITLE: Mine Reclamation Project Manager

DEPARTMENT: Western Water and Habitat Program

REPORTS TO: Colorado Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program Manager

POSITION TYPE/HOURS: Full time/40 hours

DATE: 03/25/19

POSITION SUMMARY This is an exciting opportunity to join Trout Unlimited and use your talents to improve water quality and fisheries in Colorado watersheds impacted by historic hardrock mining. TU is hiring a self-motivated and highly capable person to facilitate and execute abandoned mine land reclamation and stream reclamation projects in watersheds across Colorado. This project manager will take projects from start to finish, which consists of developing project concepts, obtaining project funding, and managing project implementation .

Seeing Red: Do fewer protections impact your water?

The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proposing to significantly narrow the scope of protections for our nation’s waters. The proposal would replace a positive, TU-supported 2015 rule (the Clean Water Rule) designed to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act protections, which includes protections for headwaters, intermittent and ephemeral streams, and wetlands. The new proposal (Replacement Rule) would substantially weaken the Clean Water Act, one of the Nation’s most effective natural resource laws.

Whether you fish or just simply understand the value of clean water, there is no law more important than the Clean Water Act. In 2015, the EPA developed a rule that affirmed Clean Water Act protections for “intermittent and ephemeral streams.” In 2018,  the Environmental Protection Agency proposed weakening these protections. These streams —the headwaters of our nation’s rivers —provide us the fisheries we cherish and the clean drinking water we require. -Trout Unlimited

Intermittent streams are those that have a continuous flow but only at certain times of the year, sustained seasonally by springs, ground-water inputs or a surface water source such as rain or melting snow.    Ephemeral streams flow only briefly (hours to days) in direct response to precipitation in the immediate vicinity.

Intermittent streams are those that have a continuous flow but only at certain times of the year, sustained seasonally by springs, ground-water inputs or a surface water source such as rain or melting snow.

Ephemeral streams flow only briefly (hours to days) in direct response to precipitation in the immediate vicinity.

The proposed Replacement Rule would end Clean Water Act protections for millions of stream miles across the country — streams that contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117-million Americans and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that support a robust outdoor recreation economy worth $887 billion. The proposed rule would also erase protections for millions of acres of wetlands, a critical part of functioning watersheds, including groundwater recharge, pollution filtration, as well as protecting communities from flooding. In eliminating these protections, the Replacement Rule would deregulate a host of development activities, such as pipeline construction that will, over time, degrade hunting and fishing opportunities in every state in the country.

The Clean Water Act and the 2015 Rule are vital to TU’s work and to anglers across the nation. Whether TU is working with farmers to restore small headwater streams in West Virginia, removing acidic pollution caused by abandoned mines in Pennsylvania, or protecting the world-famous salmon-producing, 14,000-jobs-sustaining watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, we rely on the Clean Water Act to safeguard our water quality.  

TU members, and sportsmen and women nationwide, want to move forward with progress on cleaning up our nation’s waters, not go backwards. Please join us in writing to tell the Agencies that the Clean Water Act needs to be improved, not weakened. The proposed Replacement Rule should be rejected.