south platte

The irreplaceable river: How George H.W. Bush's EPA administrator saved the South Platte

South Platte/Deckers Flyfisher. 2019 Picture by: Annie Smith/CTU

South Platte/Deckers Flyfisher. 2019 Picture by: Annie Smith/CTU

REPOST from the Gazette:

By: Paul Klee | Mar 4, 2019

Thank you, William K. Reilly.

Thank you for saving our river from drowning.

Reilly, now 79, is the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who vetoed the Two Forks project that in 1990 sought to dam the South Platte upstream from the one stop sign in the mountain town of Deckers.

“It was all systems go,” Reilly said last week, and the 20 miles of irreplaceable trout habitat where hundreds of kids like me learned to fly fish would be nothing more than a sad bedtime story.

This fragile, world-class trout fishery would have been flooded below the 615-foot Two Forks dam, a structure roughly the size of Hoover Dam. Twenty-five miles southwest of Denver and 42 miles northwest from Colorado Springs, six towns and a priceless outdoor recreation area would have been washed away.

So thank you.

“How’s the river doing, anyway?” Reilly asked before his keynote speech for Colorado Trout Unlimited’s annual River Stewardship Gala here Thursday.

Really well, considering. The Hayman fire was rough on everybody, and the trout populations are gradually returning. But here’s the real catch: At least this stretch of river still exists.

Thanks to Reilly.

As Reilly told it from his home in San Francisco, the Two Forks dam was “a foregone conclusion from every angle” when the late George H.W. Bush hired him as head of the EPA in 1989.

“You don’t bring the World Wildlife president into the EPA to just sit there. You want drive, action,” Reilly said. “I was determined in my authority to make him the environmental president.”

Continue reading the full story on the Gazette here.

I took my dad fishing

Fishing w-Dad.jpg

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! On this day we would like to share a story from one of our CTU staff about taking her dad fly fishing in Colorado. We hope everyone has a safe holiday and finds time to spend it with friends, family, or the great outdoors!

Written By Bianca Martinez-McGrath, CTU Youth Education VISTA

Bianca’s dad holding a rainbow trout before releasing back into the water.

Bianca’s dad holding a rainbow trout before releasing back into the water.

Over the past 5 years, I have moved around to a lot of different places. It has gotten to the point where my parents are quick to ask me “where are you going next?” so they can start planning their next vacation to come see me. So, when my parents decided to come to Colorado a couple months after I first arrived, I knew I had to make this trip memorable for them. I took them to see the Garden of the Gods and to a Cuban-inspired jazz show in Downtown Denver. We went up to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado and, considering my new position with Colorado Trout Unlimited, I knew it would only make sense to take my dad fly fishing.  
 
I knew this would be a perfect opportunity for both of us because I had only been fly fishing a couple of times and my dad had been fly fishing once or twice as a child. Our guided trip with Scott Dickson of Trouts Fly Fishing shop began early with a snowy drive over to Deckers so we could fish on the South Platte. Throughout the day, we would experience just about every season of weather that exists. My goal for this trip was to learn as much as possible from Scott, see my dad catch a fish, and catch one for myself. Although I had been fly fishing a couple of times before, all I had gotten in contact with were a couple of fish that managed to unhook themselves and a few very aggressive rocks.  

Bianca holding a brown trout she caught and released immediately after.

Bianca holding a brown trout she caught and released immediately after.

After six hours of fishing, my dad ended up being able to catch a good amount of trout. I could tell from how little quiet time there was on the way back to Denver that he enjoyed every moment of it. As for me, I caught a few Brown trout and got to see my dad fully enjoy the experience, an experience that has motivated many members of Trout Unlimited to protect and conserve their cold-water fisheries. It has been almost three years since I lived near my parents, so having this experience with my dad was an important one for me. I am only hoping that fly fishing becomes something we can do at all of the new destinations that we experience together.  

Clean up on aisle...river!

This September, volunteers around Colorado are getting outside and making a difference for their local waters! Thank you to everyone who has participated in a local river cleanup - your work is important and is not only making our rivers more beautiful, but healthier as well! Check out the great work that has been done and be sure to sign up for our next one on October 6th on the South Platte in celebration of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

EAGLE VALLEY TROUT UNLIMITED VOLUNTEERS HAUL TRASH OUT OF THE EAGLE RIVER

September 8, 2018 - Press Release

Contact: Nick Noesen, President of EVTU

Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited had an amazing day participating in the annual Eagle River Clean-up on September 8th. We were a strong group of 19 volunteers young and old. 35 trash bags full of river trash were hauled up to the road to be taken to the landfill. Several Tires and large items as well were removed from the river corridor. For the past 9 years Eagle Valley trout Unlimited has cleaned the same 2 miles of the Eagle River in the town of Eagle. This was a particularly good year for a clean up due to the low water flows. This project along with the Highway Cleanup in the spring makes a monumental impact on keeping our rivers clean and beautiful.

CHAPTER TRIFECTA HELPS CLEAN UP CLEAR CREEK

September 15, 2018

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Trout Unlimited chapters along with volunteers across Colorado teamed up to cleanup Clear Creek near the Idaho Springs area - a popular location for anglers and recreationalists. West Denver Trout Unlimited, Cutthroat Trout Unlimited, and Cherry Creek Trout Unlimited came together with around 55 volunteers, (a record turnout!), to hike along Clear Creek and collect trash. Nestle brought in about 20 volunteers as well, donated water for everyone, and contributed to the raffle that was held later on. Overall, the event was a great success!


Are you feeling inspired to volunteer?

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by giving back to a river!

The Pike National Forest Service, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Coalition for the Upper South Platte, and the Denver Water Board are coming together on a group effort to help clean up the South Platte River in the Deckers area. While the South Platte is not officially designated as a Wild and Scenic River, it was deemed "eligible" under the Act and has been protected by the local South Platte Protection Plan for more than 15 years.  The purpose of the South Platte Protection Plan is to protect the river's outstandingly remarkable values - fishery, cultural, geologic, recreation, scenic and wildlife resources.

The river clean-up event will take place October 6, 2018, from 9am to 3pm, with volunteers meeting at the Deckers Store. Bring your friends and family along and enjoy a great day on one of Colorado’s outstanding rivers – and perhaps bring along your fishing equipment to wet a line once the work is done! Click below to learn more and/or to sign up!


The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act Turns 50!

Pictured: Eleven Mile Canyon

Pictured: Eleven Mile Canyon

Celebrate with a South Platte River Cleanup

Courtesy of the National Parks System, nps.org

Courtesy of the National Parks System, nps.org

In October 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was established when Congress determined that “the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers.” Wild and Scenic designation protects free-flowing rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. The designation prohibits harmful development, preserves historic uses, and safeguards designated rivers for future generations. Of the roughly three million miles of rivers in the country, only a little over 12,000 are protected as Wild and Scenic. In Colorado, Congress granted Wild and Scenic protection to the Cache la Poudre in 1986 - currently our state’s only designated river (though discussions are underway about designating Deep Creek).

Pictured: Cache La Poudre River.

Pictured: Cache La Poudre River.

While Colorado has only one formally designated Wild and Scenic river, the Act has helped spur other protections for rivers using state and local tools. One such example emerged in the aftermath of the Two Forks battle, as the review of the South Platte for possible designation prompted development of the South Platte Protection Plan. The Plan includes measures to provide recreational access to Denver Water properties, to manage reservoir releases for flow and temperature goals below Eleven Mile and Cheesman Dams, and to fund ongoing investments in the river corridor’s values through a $1 million endowment managed by the South Platte Enhancement Board.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark legislation, Colorado TU is joining with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte and the US Forest Service to host a day of service on the South Platte River near Deckers, with volunteers helping to pick up trash along the river corridor. The river clean-up event will take place October 6, 2018, from 9am to 3pm, with volunteers meeting at the Deckers Store. Bring your friends and family along and enjoy a great day on one of Colorado’s outstanding rivers – and perhaps bring along your fishing equipment to wet a line once the work is done! Click below to learn more and/or to sign up!