This month’s issue features a story about the history of a Colorado town that decided it needed to give itself a new identity. The newsletter also includes a new Behind the Fin feature, our 50th Anniversary Art Poster Contest Winner, the new High Country Angler Spring e-magazine, Fork Not Taken Recap, Clean Water Action alert and some upcoming events around the state.
NEW! High Country Angler Spring 2019
The new spring issue of High Country Angler is now live and you can view it online or download the entire issue for free! This time around you can look forward these stories:
A Q& A with Landon Mayer by Frank Martin
Still Water Sure Thing: Yellowstone Lake by Brian La Rue
Paint By Number Fly Fishing by Peter Stitcher
Your Guide to RMNP by Annie Smith
Dry Flies in February by Hayden Mellsop
Minturn Anglers by Mark Shulman
50 Years Protecting Rivers by Mike Ledger
Corps, EPA Propose Clean Water Act Rollback By David Nickum
Public Lands: Best. Idea. Ever by CTU Staff
Behind the Fin with Dave Taylor by CTU Staff
TU and the Birth of Colorado Instream Flows by CTU Staff
Angler's All by CTU Staff
Fit to be Tied by Joel Evans
It was a beautiful November day in the high country, as Guy Turenne and Phil Wright climbed their way over drifts of fresh snow along Fall Creek – a tiny tributary in the heart of Colorado’s northern mountains.
This time, it was not fish that they were after, but a small temperature probe the size of a silver dollar, lying in wait at the bottom of the stream channel. Months earlier, Guy and Phil, along with dozens of other TU volunteers, worked with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to place these loggers in different stream locations throughout the eastern half of the state.
Fish are heavily affected by temperature – especially trout. Changes in thermal regimes over the course of a few hours to a few months can trigger fish to spawn, eat, grow, and even breathe. We all saw stories in the hot, dry summer months of 2018, when low flows and extreme ambient air temperatures brought some rivers to over 79°F. At that point, dissolved oxygen becomes increasingly scarce and fish can die.
Stream temperatures also impact the normal day-to-day and cyclic activities of our trout. For example, Rainbow trout will spawn in the spring when water temperature begins to rise and reaches 45-56 degrees F (52°F is ideal). Conversely, Brown trout will spawn in the fall as water temperatures drop within 44-48°F. Each species of trout thrives at different conditions.
So, what does any of this have to do with two TU volunteers hiking through two feet of snow in the middle of Winter?
As it turns out – a lot! Just as water temperature affects the spawning cycle of Rainbows and Browns, thermal regimes play an important role in the development of Cutthroat trout – in this case, Greenbacks and Rio Grandes. These fish have evolved over thousands of years to eat, grow, and reproduce at specific thermal conditions in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. As Trout Unlimited and native trout recovery partners continue to engage in projects that reclaim habitat and stock native fingerlings, we must ensure that the temperature regimes will support those fish long term.
But collecting that level of data across thousands of miles of small tributaries and remote drainages can pose a challenge to recovery partners. Fortunately, TU volunteers came to the rescue.
With critical funding supplied by the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and the U.S. Forest Service, volunteers from several chapters helped to identify future habitat for the returning Greenback and Rio Grande Cutthroat. In the Spring of 2018, the project kicked off with a USFS-led volunteer training during the annual CTU Rendezvous in Keystone. From that point, chapter representatives recruited and trained their own local group of temperature probe deployment experts. Over the course of the summer, TU volunteers exceeded the original 30-site goal by setting and maintaining over 40 HOBO stream temperature loggers in several key drainages that have potential for recovery sites.
“We observed that the RMF membership and other members of the community seem to value stream monitoring efforts in general, are strongly supportive of such efforts, and are willing to volunteer,” explained Phil Wright, project coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter.
As the leaves changed and fell from the trees, TU volunteers went back into the field to collect the data – which was then transferred to biologists at USFS and CPW. From there, recovery partners will be able to show a better picture of which watersheds will make good candidates for future reintroduction.
Trout Unlimited volunteers continue to help advance native trout recovery throughout Colorado each year – even winning a regional volunteer service award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2018. Whether its notching beaver dams, backpacking in fingerlings, or tramping through two feet of powder, TU volunteers are committed and engaged in the recovery of our native trout. The stream temperature study is another chapter of this important saga – and one that will undoubtedly be the preface for the next wave of native cutthroat recovery sites. Who knows… maybe one of those streams will be in your backyard!
Colorado Trout Unlimited would like to recognize our valuable partners and chapters who have made this project possible:
Western Native Trout Initiative, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Evergreen TU, West Denver TU, Rocky Mountain Flycasters TU, Alpine Anglers TU, Cutthroat Chapter TU, Pikes Peak TU, San Luis Valley TU, and Boulder Flycasters TU.
If you are interested to learn more about this project or volunteer, please visit Colorado TU’s Native Trout Page.
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:
P.O. Box 1544
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 email@example.com
December 21, 2018 Intent to submit a proposal shall be submitted via email to Mely Whiting at firstname.lastname@example.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:
P.O. Box 1544
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Please download the full proposal details and requirements by clicking the button below:
Conservationists: Victory for the Maroon Bells Wilderness
Final agreement means Aspen will abandon plans to build dams on Maroon & Castle Creeks
Aspen, CO (Oct. 16, 2018) – Today, Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, and Colorado Trout Unlimited celebrated news that the city of Aspen has reached the last agreement necessary for it to permanently abandon its plans to build dams on Maroon and Castle creeks.
“This agreement is a huge victory for the Maroon Bells Wilderness and the Maroon and Castle creeks. The city of Aspen deserves tremendous credit for agreeing not to build these dams and instead pursue smart water alternatives that will enable the city to respond to future needs and to climate change, while preserving this amazing natural environment that draws visitors from all around the world,” said Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois. “Communities throughout the Colorado River basin face similar dilemmas; Aspen is showing true leadership by demonstrating that it’s possible to find solutions that protect our rivers, preserve our quality of life, and enable future growth.”
“The signing of this final document means the end of conditional water rights that would have allowed dams to be built across Castle and Maroon creeks. The city of Aspen played a leadership role in working to find a set of solutions that will both protect Castle and Maroon creeks and ensure continued water for the citizens of Aspen,” said Will Roush, Executive Director at Wilderness Workshop. “Castle and Maroon creeks have tremendous ecological and community values, this is a moment to celebrate both the continuation of their free-flowing character and the partnership and collaboration with the city of Aspen that led to this outcome.”
“This is a significant victory for rivers in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Matt Rice, Colorado River Basin Director for American Rivers. “We applaud the city of Aspen for working with the community to find more sustainable and cost-effective water supply solutions. Thanks to the hard work and persistence of so many people who love this special place, these creeks will forever flow free.”
“We appreciate the city of Aspen’s commitment to meet its water supply needs in ways that protect these much-loved valleys and creeks, and the wild trout that call them home” said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.
If built, the dams proposed on Maroon and Castle creeks would have flooded important wildlife and recreation areas in addition to portions of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, forever changing two of the most beautiful, visited, and photographed valleys in Colorado.
The plans were opposed by Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, and Trout Unlimited, as well as several other parties, including Pitkin County and the U.S. Forest Service. This spring, after extensive negotiations, the conservation organizations signed agreements with the city, requiring it to relocate its water rights and abandon plans to build reservoirs with dams on Castle and Maroon creeks, regardless of whether it is successful in moving these rights to alternative locations. However, the agreements were contingent on the city reaching accord with other opposers in the case. Final agreement ending plans for a dam and reservoir on Castle Creek was reached in late summer. Today, the city announced a final settlement regarding the dam and reservoir on Maroon Creek.
The agreements commit Aspen to pursuing more river-friendly water storage strategies. The city will seek to move a portion of its water rights to a suite of more environmentally friendly water storage locations within and downstream of the city limits, including a site near the gravel quarry at Woody Creek. The city of Aspen played a critical role in helping find solutions to protect the two creeks while maintaining an important source of water for the community.
Western Resource Advocates works to protect the West’s land, air, and water so that our communities thrive in balance with nature. WRA’s team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. For more information, visit www.westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv.
Wilderness Workshop is dedicated to preservation and conservation of the wilderness and natural resources of the White River National Forest and adjacent public lands. WW engages in research, education, legal advocacy and grassroots organizing to protect the ecological integrity of local landscapes and public lands. WW is the oldest environmental nonprofit in the Roaring Fork Valley, dating back to 1967 with a membership base of over 800. Learn more at http://www.wildernessworkshop.org/.
American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 275,000 members, supporters, and volunteers. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at www.AmericanRivers.org.
Colorado Trout Unlimited is dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. With a grassroots base comprised of nearly 12,000 members in 24 local chapters across the state, CTU works both locally and statewide through advocacy, education, and on-the-ground restoration projects. For more information visit www.coloradotu.org.
Jennifer Talhelm, Western Resource Advocates Communications Director,
Will Roush, Wilderness Workshop Executive Director,
Matt Rice, American Rivers Colorado River Basin Program Director,
David Nickum, Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director,
303-440-2937 x1, email@example.com
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
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!
Did you check your email? We sent out our most recent monthly newsletter, Currents, earlier this week. If you did miss it, we always post our most recent and past newsletters on our website. You can see them here.
This month’s Currents featured a story on the once-extinct San Juan lineage of Cutthroat trout in Colorado, upcoming events such as the Upper C Fall Classic Tournament, River Clean-ups, Raffles, Exclusive CTU Youth Film, and much more!
Not subscribed to our e-newsletter? You can sign-up here and be opted in to receive our monthly updates. The newsletter includes the latest news, events, happenings, and stories about fly fishing, native trout, and river conservation.
CLEAR CREEK, CO – This week, the endangered Greenback Cutthroat Trout got a major boost from Trout Unlimited volunteers and agency partners in Colorado.
Once thought to be extinct, this rare fish is making a big comeback thanks to the efforts of the Greenback Cutthroat Recovery Team – a partnership that includes the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Western Native Trout Initiative, and Trout Unlimited.
Over the course of two days in mid-July, 1,700 Year 1 Cutthroats (~4-6 inches) made their way into two headwater drainages in the Clear Creek Watershed, an hour west of Denver, CO. The Dry Gulch and Herman Gulch creeks represent the first major river populations for this threatened species since it was rediscovered in 2012.
To help agency partners stock these important little fish, over 80 Trout Unlimited volunteers carried the cutthroats in large packs up steep switchbacks and bush-wacked through dense brush to get to the remote rivers. Some people hiked over six miles into the top of the drainage (over 11,500 feet)! These volunteers came from ten different TU chapters and represented all walks of life – anglers and conservationists coming together to recover this native trout.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” says Paul Winkle, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist for the Clear Creek Drainage. It was a major undertaking that took a lot of support from agency staff, non-profit partners, and local businesses.
At Colorado TU, we are very proud of the hard work and dedication that our chapters and volunteers provide to these projects. It shows what can happen when people focus on collaboration and overcoming differences. It didn’t matter whether someone was young or old, Democrat or Republican, a dry fly purist or never fished before – we were all side by side, climbing those steep trails together. All to save the Greenback.
That's right! Over 80 volunteers and 20+ agency staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, US Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife service packed up 1700 native Greenback cutthroat trout to be released along Dry Gulch and Herman Gulch on July 16 & 18. These little trout were raised in a hatchery as part of a statewide effort to restore population's of Colorado's state fish. I'm not sure if you can tell if a fish is happy, but those little guys sure looked excited to be released into their new home. Check out the video spotlight that CBS Local Channel 4 did about the effort, below:
Feeling inspired? Learn more about Native Trout across Colorado - the efforts to protect and restore populations and ways to get involved.
A big shout out to all the volunteers who came out to hike and haul the native trout to their new homes, and to the various groups and agencies that came out to restore Colorado's native fisheries. Read the full story that CBS Channel 4 News did here.
Odell Brewing in Fort Collins has become a valued friend of Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter. They recognize the benefit their business derives from low cost, high quality water. Equally important, many of their patrons enjoy and recreate on the rivers and streams that we are so committed to protecting or improving. They have been generous supporters of our work, and we both have come to realize that ‘If it’s good for fish, it’s good for beer’!
Recently, we received an invite to come into the brewery and craft a beer in honor of TU and specifically, the launch of the long-awaited Poudre Headwaters Greenback Restoration Project. On May 30th, members of Rocky Mountain Flycasters and US Forest Service met at Odell Brewing to craft a new beer to celebrate both the Poudre Headwaters Project and TU.
While many of us involved in crafting the beer enjoy the post-production product, none of us were well-schooled in the details of making beer. Marni Wahlquist, a head pilot brewer at Odell Brewing, guided us through every step of the approximate six-hour brewing process. Our first decision was to decide on type and flavor profile of the beer. Following discussion, we settled on a lightly hopped pilsner with tones of mountain sage and wild currant. The two-row barley used in the pilsner paid homage to the agricultural community from which the project has evolved. In keeping with a high mountain stream theme, we settled on a name for the beer – Cold Water 1. The name refers to a grading system used by State agencies to describe aquatic habitat.
Fast forward to July 1st. A warm, sunny day. Perfect weather for the Cold Water 1 release party at Odell Brewing. While the party was scheduled for 1pm, I was determined to be at Odell when they opened to insure a chance at the first draw of our newly crafted beer. While not a beer aficionado, I find it to be refreshing, lightly hopped, a bit fruity but not overpowering, with a hint of sage on the nose after swallow. Cold and fresh! Just like beer should be. Just like streams should be.It is a beer that reminds us all – If it’s good for fish, it’s good for beer.
Check out Odell Brewing Co. and you can try the new beer at the location in Fort Collins.
Written by Dick Jefferies, CTU Board Vice President
The BLM announced some good news for Colorado’s native cutthroat trout and big game populations on June 22 after reaching a settlement in the lawsuit filed by oil and gas company SG Interests over the cancellation of 18 leases to drill in the Thompson Divide area of the White River National Forest near Carbondale, Colorado. The leases covered more than 21,000 acres (about 33 square miles) featuring prime big game habitat and native cutthroat trout streams in watersheds providing source water to the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers, as well as local communities.
Leases to drill in the Thompson Divide were improperly issued by BLM in 2003. A coalition of county and local governments, ranchers, local businesses, sportsmen and citizen groups – including Trout Unlimited – mobilized and worked for years to protect the Thompson Divide. BLM ultimately recognized that the leases had been issued in violation of the law and cancelled them in 2016.
In early 2017, SG Interests filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to challenge BLM’s decision. Under the settlement, SG agrees to dismiss its case in exchange for a payment of $1.5 million from the federal government. The settlement compensates SG for investments made toward developing the leases but leaves the 2016 lease cancellations in effect.
“SG’s leases were issued in violation of the law, and these lands never should have been leased in the first place,” said Michael Freeman, a staff attorney at Earthjustice representing Wilderness Workshop and Colorado Trout Unlimited. “BLM properly cancelled the leases in 2016. We’re glad to see that SG is dropping its challenge to those cancellations.”
The Thompson Divide area stretches across Pitkin, Garfield and Gunnison Counties and encompasses no fewer than nine National Forest roadless areas. The area includes habitat for deer, elk and a variety of sensitive wildlife species, including cold water streams vital to native cutthroat trout. Because it supports recreation, ranching and other local industries, the Thompson Divide produces an estimated 300 jobs and pumps more than $30 million into the local economy.
“From its prime big game habitat to unique native cutthroat trout fisheries, the Thompson Divide is a Colorado treasure for hunters and anglers,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “For years, sportsmen and women have fought to protect these lands — so we’re pleased that BLM and SG have reached an agreement that will keep them intact.”
While the settlement is an important step toward protecting the region, it does not end the threat posed by oil and gas development. Sen. Michael Bennet introduced legislation last year (S.481 - Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of 2017) to permanently protect the Thompson Divide. With the specter of SG's 2003 leases and lawsuit no longer hanging over the area, Colorado TU hopes that his bill can gain momentum so that this treasured landscape can receive the lasting protection it deserves.