Press/PR

Celebrating the passing of the CORE Act through U.S. House of Representatives

Excerpt from the Real Vail article.

Today, Trout Unlimited celebrates the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act (CORE Act) passing through the U.S. House of Representatives and moving on to the U.S. Senate. This important legislation conserves more than 400,000 acres of public lands in the Centennial State, along with fish, wildlife and the traditional sportsmen’s values of Colorado’s Western Slope. 

 “Hunters and anglers across the state applaud the members of the House for passing this important legislation protecting our public lands and the vital fish and wildlife habitat they provide here in Colorado,” said Scott Willoughby, Colorado public lands coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “The CORE Act balances public access to fishing, hunting, and recreation in these special places with protection of pristine headwaters that support native trout populations. Following today’s vote, we look forward to working with the Colorado delegation to move this bill forward in the Senate.” 

The four components of the CORE Act provide protection and improved access to public lands in western Colorado. It expands wilderness designations in the San Juan Mountains, increases fishing access and streamlines management of the Curecanti National Recreation Area and permanently protects the Thompson Divide from inappropriate oil and gas development. Lastly, it also establishes special management areas along the Continental Divide, including a first-of-its-kind National Historic Landscape honoring Colorado’s military legacy at Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained for winter combat in World War II. 

Trout Unlimited members have long advocated for protection for these unique landscapes, including the Thompson Divide, where nearly half of the CORE Act’s protected lands provide a largely roadless refuge for numerous economically and ecologically important wildlife species, including native trout and large populations of elk and mule deer that require room to roam. 

 “Preserving wildlife connectivity and protecting our waters and lands is of utmost importance to sportsmen living in Colorado as well as those who travel here to take advantage of what these special areas offer,” Willoughby said. “Economic impacts from sportsmen are a big driver in Colorado, so ensuring more access and opportunities is critical to maintaining our recreation economy and the license revenue required by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for fish and wildlife management.” 

A map of lands affected by the CORE Act in Colorado. (Handout from U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet)

A map of lands affected by the CORE Act in Colorado. (Handout from U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet)

Among the benefits of the CORE Act, the Curecanti Boundary Establishment Act promises to restore an additional 11.5 miles of public fishing access in the Gunnison River Basin due to an as-yet unfulfilled mitigation obligation from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dating back to the creation of Blue Mesa Reservoir and the surrounding Aspinall Unit in the late 1960s. Additionally, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act will benefit the San Miguel, Uncompahgre, and Animas watersheds, protecting 2.5 miles of Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat, which currently occupy less than 10 percent of their historic range. 

“TU deeply appreciates Representative Neguse’s efforts and the strong support of Chairman Grijalva for enabling its passage, said Willoughby. “It is a true testament to Colorado’s commitment to investing in our treasured public lands and outdoor recreation economy.” 

Read More: https://www.aspendailynews.com/news/house-passes-core-act-which-protects-thompson-divide/article_d3632ad2-fc07-11e9-90e4-cffdd277f613.html





October 15, 2019 is Colorado Trout Unlimited Day

Governor Jared Polis declaring October 15 as Colorado Trout Unlimited Day in Colorado! This was done in celebration of CTU’s 50th anniversary.

Governor Jared Polis declaring October 15 as Colorado Trout Unlimited Day in Colorado! This was done in celebration of CTU’s 50th anniversary.

On October 15, 2019, over 200 people gathered in downtown Denver for a celebration of rivers, 50 years of Colorado Trout Unlimited, and fly fishing films. The event was a collaboration between CTU, Trouts Fly Fishing, and Avanti Food & Beverage. The evening included a premiere of CTU's 50th Anniversary Film, a proclamation by Governor Jared Polis, a speech by Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited and the 2nd Annual Throwback Fly Fishing Film Fest by Trouts Fly Fishing.

The evening helped raise funds for Colorado Trout Unlimited through a silent auction and raffle. Beer was provided by Upslope Brewing and appetizers from Avanti Food & Beverage. Thank you to everyone who attended and those who helped make this possible.

David Nickum being honored for 25 years with Trout Unlimited with a custom rod from Colorado local rod builder, SaraBella.

David Nickum being honored for 25 years with Trout Unlimited with a custom rod from Colorado local rod builder, SaraBella.

David Nickum, Executive Director of CTU, was also honored for his 25 years of work in Trout Unlimited! His dedication to rivers and trout in Colorado is why CTU has been so successful over the years. Thank you David for your dedication to Colorado Trout Unlimited.

If you would like to learn more about Colorado Trout Unlimited’s work that has been done over these past 50 years - check out our publication here.

We will also be premiering our 50th Anniversary film online for everyone to watch for free! The tentative date is Thursday, November 14, 2019 in the evening.

During the summer of 2019, Greenbacks volunteers, Emma Brown and George Bryant embarked on an adventure across Colorado in search of the places that CTU has protected over the past 50 years. These are the stories and people that have helped write CTU's history. Celebrate 50 Years of Colorado Trout Unlimited with us!

Take Action for YOUR Public Lands

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September is Public Lands Month and we celebrate our nation's rich legacy of public lands and the natural resources that depend on those lands - including the amazing fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities that our public lands support. National TU is preparing a series of blog posts about the major agencies responsible for managing our federal public lands - the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read the first post - featuring the story behind the Forest Service- here.

One of our nation's most successful programs investing in public lands and outdoor recreation is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). We celebrated earlier this year as Congress passed and the President signed legislation permanently authorizing this program, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Colorado's great outdoors from our iconic national parks to community trails and parks in our own backyards.

LWCF doesn't depend on your tax dollars but rather is funded by a portion of revenues from offshore drilling royalties. Unfortunately, these funds are anything but secure and are regularly raided by Congress for other purposes during annual appropriations. Now, Congress is considering legislation to secure those dedicated funds on a permanent basis so that LWCF can continue to support public lands and outdoor recreation for generations to come.

You can help by asking your Representative to support this important legislation. Please take a moment this Public Lands Month to speak up for continued investment in our public lands!

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

2019 Summer Youth Camp Video features youth learning about rivers and fly fishing

Greenback and CTU volunteer, Emma Brown, put together a great feature about the 2019 CTU River Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp in Almont, CO. Check out the great video she filmed above!

The River Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp is a week long camp designed to educate 14 to 18 year old students on the importance of cold water conservation and provide hands-on fly fishing instruction. Approximately 20 students are selected each year based on their qualifications and a written essay on why they would like to attend the camp.

Camp classes include: Principles of Ecology, Hydrogeology, Aquatic Vertebrate and Invertebrate Sampling, Hydrology, Trout Behavior, Trout Stream Entomology, The Biology of Pollution, Acid Deposition, and Politics of Conservation and Human Effects on the Rocky Mountain.

In addition, the camp will include hands-on instruction on Fly Tying, Fly Casting, Stream-side Ethics, Angling Literature, Stream-side Botany, Wader Safety and Survival, and The Evolution of an
Angler. The campers will also participate in a watershed project to repair habitat in a nearby stream.

TU supports the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act

by Kate Miller
July 18, 2019
Original Blog post here.

Bill would help to advance renewable energy projects on public lands in a manner that protects fish and wildlife habitat, and strengthens local economies and communities

Upcoming

TU CEO Chris Wood to testify in support of PLREDA before a House Committee on July 25th at 10 am eastern. Read Chris’ written statement or visit the hearing page to find witness testimony and to watch the hearing live or on replay.

What is PLREDA?

On July 17, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA). 

  • Congressman Gosar’s press release on the bill is available, here.

  • Congressman Levin’s press release is here.

The Public Land Renewable Energy Act would create a new system for efficient, responsible renewable energy development on public lands. By identifying priority areas for wind, solar and geothermal development, PLREDA encourages smart siting and efficient permitting of projects in places with high potential for energy and low impact on wildlife and habitat. 

Critically, the act would also strategically direct the royalty revenue from development to invest in local communities, fish and wildlife resources and more efficient permitting for renewable energy projects. 

Why PLREDA?

The nation’s public lands system provides Americans with the some of the world’s richest opportunities for outdoor recreation. In some cases, federal holdings also represent a reasonable setting for well-planned and properly mitigated renewable energy development projects. These energy projects could stimulate job growth, reduce carbon pollution, and contribute to the protection and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat on public lands.

Utility-scale wind and solar projects are a growing presence on our public lands. These projects will help us move toward a clean energy future, but can take up large chunks of land for long periods of time, and may cause some unavoidable impacts on fish, wildlife and water resources and recreational access. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act provides the conservation counterbalance to unavoidable impacts on our public lands.

PLREDA offers a way to offset issues created by development on public lands by designating a conservation fund derived from royalties and other revenues generated by wind and solar energy projects operating on federal land. The bill also directs a portion of the royalty and lease revenues from public land wind and solar projects to compensate for states and counties impacted by development. Read more about the bill details in our factsheet.

Why this Matters for Trout Unlimited

Public lands contain some of the most valuable trout and salmon habitat in the nation. In most western states, public lands comprise more than 70 percent of the available habitat for native trout, representing the vast majority of remaining strongholds for coldwater species. PLREDA offers a way to advance development of renewable energy on public lands in a responsible and innovative fashion, while also ensuring funds flow back into Trout Unlimited’s critical on-the-ground conservation work that benefits anglers and downstream communities.

How you can help

We need your help to build even more support for PLREDA. Urge your member of Congress to sign on as co-sponsor of the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act. 

TU letters / statements:

Upcoming: Chris Wood to testify in support of PLREDA before a House Committee on July 25th at 10am eastern. Read Chris’ written statement or visit the hearing page to find witness testimony and to watch the hearing live or on replay.

That’s all for this one! Please contact Kate MillerRob Catalanotto or Steve Moyer with any questions.

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!

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.