CTU 50th Anniversary
1969 - 1974

The Foundation


The Colorado Council of Trout Unlimited holds it inaugural meeting in Vail. The gathering also marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of TU in Michigan. Chapter representatives, including those from Colorado’s first two chapters – Cutthroat and Ferdinand Hayden - make up the Board of Directors.


Two small populations of Greenback cutthroat trout – previously thought extinct – are confirmed in Colorado; the species is listed as “endangered” and TU begins efforts with a multi-agency partnership to begin the highly successful recovery of the Greenback.

1975 - 1980

Wild Trout


CTU issues a resolution calling for fish stocking be reduced or eliminated in any stream that will support a wild trout population and launches an effort to influence public policy.

1981 - 1986

"Why Two Forks?"


The Colorado Wildlife Commission adopts its first wild trout policy, establishing more than 200 miles of “Wild Trout” water, including segments of the Blue River, the Big Thompson, the Eagle, the Arkansas and the Fryingpan.


CTU, its chapter, grassroots and partners wage an all-out public campaign against the proposed Two Forks Dam, which would have inundated cherished sections of the South Platte River near Deckers. United behind the slogan “Why Two Forks?” CTU activists lobby public officials from the governor and legislators on down to local planning commissions. CTU Executive Director Dave Taylor is featured in a New York Times article. CTU helps defeat 25 bills designed to expedite construction of the dam.

1987 - 1992



Myxobolus cerebralis – the parasite that causes whirling disease – is first detected in Colorado.


After ongoing advocacy by CTU against a proposed dam site on Rock Creek near Gore Pass, the Colorado River Water Conservation District instead selects aptly-named Muddy Creek as the site for Wolford Mountain Reservoir, preserving Rock Creek and improving the fishery on Muddy Creek.


EPA chief William K. Reilly vetoes the Two Forks Dam permit, citing “unacceptable adverse effects” the South Platte’s “diverse riverine/wetland/upland complex with extremely high fisheries, wildlife and recreational values.” Besides marking a major victory for conservationists, the Two Forks defeat prompts water providers to take a much more collaborative approach to water project planning.


CTU lobbies to create Great Outdoors Colorado to help preserve, protect, enhance and manage the state’s wildlife, park, river, trail and open space heritage. A year later, CTU helps turn back an effort to subject GOCO to spending limits opposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). Since then, GOCO has funded 2,700 projects to the tune of more than $500 million.

1993 - 1998

Greenback Cutthroat


CTU launches a successful effort to make the Greenback Cutthroat Trout Colorado’s state fish.


CTU, TU, and member Ron Albert sue the U.S. Forest Service over permits it issued for Long Draw Reservoir in the Cache la Poudre headwaters.CTU challenged the agency’s failure to require minimum bypass flows below the dam to “minimize damage” to fish and wildlife as required under federal law. More than a decade later, TU prevails.


Trout Unlimited establishes the Colorado Water Project, providing the legal expertise needed to participate meaningfully in Colorado’s Water Court system.

1999 - 2004

Recognition of Excellence


Former CTU Executive Director and Past President Dave Taylor wins National TU’s highest individual honor – The Mortenson Award.


After nearly 13 years of often rancorous debate, the Colorado Wildlife Commission (finally!) bans the stocking of fish exposed to whirling disease into trout waters, despite fierce opposition from the aquaculture industry. By this time, nearly all of the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s hatcheries have become infected. Moving forward, CTU will be instrumental in convincing the legislature to approve more than $11 million to fund the Division to clean up its hatcheries.


Using data collected by CTU, the Colorado Water Conservation Board files for an instream flow water right on the South Fork of the South Platte – the first time it has made a filing based on a citizen group’s request.


TU’s Colorado Water Project stops the proposed AB Lateral Hydroelectric plant, which would have diverted huge volumes of water from the Upper Gunnison River. In the face of a prolonged fight over the proposal, the AB Lateral project relinquished its water rights.

2005 - 2010

Youth and Outreach


CTU joins other hunting and angling groups to secure legislative passage of a new “habitat stamp” to provide funds to the DOW for habitat protection and acquisition of public fishing and hunting access.


CTU holds its first youth conservation and fly fishing camp, providing a week of in-depth and hands-on learning for 20 high-school age youth.


TU’s Colorado Water Project secures a landmark victory in protecting flows through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. In 2007, TU successfully challenged a proposed settlement between the federal government and water interests that would have resulted in minimal streamflow protections in the Canyon. Working from that victory, TU and its conservation allies reached an agreement with the federal government, the state and water users by which a more natural hydrograph will be protected through the Black Canyon. The accord includes periodic flushing flows needed to scour sediment and maintain a healthy river habitat.


CTU plays a role in shaping new oil and gas regulations designed aimed at protecting water and wildlife resources – then helps fight off an industry effort to weaken the rules in the Colorado General Assembly.

2011 - 2016

Learning By Doing


The US Forest Service adopts the final Colorado Roadless Rule, providing strong protections to more than 4 million acres of public land backcountry – including heightened protection for native trout watersheds that were specifically sought by TU through the seven-year rulemaking process.


Denver Water, TU, and Grand County announce a groundbreaking agreement to ensure mitigation and enhancements for Denver’s Moffat Firming Project that will improve the health of the Fraser River basin through investments in habitat improvement, water to address key base flow needs, and a collaborative “Learning by Doing” process for adaptive management.


CTU and other conservationists reach a settlement with oil and gas interests and the BLM after six years of litigation over Roan Plateau. Under the agreement, limited and carefully-planned development will take place adjacent to already-developed private leases while more than 90% of the Roan’s valuable backcountry will remain unleased for oil and gas.

2017 - 2019

Look how far we've come


CTU, the US Forest Service and northern Colorado irrigators reach a final agreement in the long-standing battle over bypass flows at Long Draw Reservoir. Under the agreement, a $1.25 million trust is established to fund restoration of native trout across the headwaters of the Cache la Poudre on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests and Rocky Mountain National Park. The project will ultimately restore native trout to nearly 40 miles of connected habitat – the largest such project in Colorado history.


CTU celebrates it's 50th Anniversary! We are taking the time to look back at all of our accomplishments and also looking ahead to the future. The organization has been protecting rivers for 50 years, but we're just getting started.