Wildlife Managers Concerned About ATV Use

September 28, 2007

(AP) St. Paul A conservation group released a national survey of state wildlife and fisheries managers showing that many of them believe all-terrain vehicles destroy habitat and disrupt outings for hunters and anglers.

The Izaak Walton League of America, which released the report Thursday, also said those managers indicated that more enforcement was needed. The group called on Congress to look into the issue.

“Off-road vehicles are important to many people’s lifestyles both for work and recreation, including many Izaak Walton League members who ride them responsibly everyday in states across the country,” said Kevin Proescholdt, director of the national group’s Wilderness and Public Lands Program. “However, our survey of agency managers clearly indicates a reckless contingent of riders is harming fish and wildlife habitat and ruining hunting and fishing experiences for many people.”

The survey, conducted in July and August, contacted each of the 50 state wildlife managers and each of the 50 state fisheries managers. A total of 34 agencies, representing 27 different states, responded.

About 83 percent of the wildlife managers who responded to the survey said they have seen “resource damage to wildlife habitat” from those vehicles. About 72 percent cited “disruption of hunters during hunting season” as another impact. About 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the machines have a negative effect on hunting and fishing and those habitats in their states.


Who’ll call shots on south slope?

September 27, 2007

Access group fears role may be limited

Fishing the reservoirs was one reason Jim Williams, a member of Trout Unlimited, signed up for the group.
“I think we may have to revise the whole policy,” he said.
http://www.gazette.com/articles/group_27774___article.html/utilities_south.html

By DAVE PHILIPPS

THE GAZETTE

September 27, 2007 – 12:14AM

The question at the first meeting of WAAG was who’s wagging whom?

WAAG is the Watershed Access Advisory Group, appointed by Colorado Springs Utilities to make recommendations on how to regulate recreation in the long-forbidden south slope watershed. But would Utilities call the shots, or would the people?

“I don’t have a problem with calling the group WAAG, just as long as it isn’t ambiguous who is the dog and who is the tail,” member and avid hiker Eric Swab said Wednesday at the group’s meeting.

It was the start of a twoyear process to open a set of seven reservoirs on the south side of Pikes Peak to the public while ensuring the long-term safety of the water supply. The group expects to submit a plan to the Colorado Springs City Council in August 2009. There is no timeline for when hikers could hit the trail.

The 45,000-acre south slope has been closed to the public since 1913. For almost as long, locals have lobbied unsuccessfully to gain access. Robert Ormes, the pioneer of local hiking, tried for decades, then adopted a motto he called the Ormes Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those we trespass against.”

Colorado Springs has gradually opened a number of reservoirs to the public without incident, but has repeatedly balked at opening the South Slope, even after hinting it would open it twice.

WAAG was formed after heated watershed access meetings last winter in which Colorado Springs Utilities made an about-face after saying repeatedly it would not consider opening the south slope.

Wednesday, members of the newly formed group, made up almost entirely of hikers, bikers,
fishermen and equestrians, made it clear they wanted to be the lead dog.

A mission statement drawn up by Utilities said the group should focus on creating four trails, including one that already exists and has been used openly for a century, and one that is 30 yards long. Several in the group immediately said the mission was too limited.

“Are we talking about a few trails, or are we talking about access to the whole watershed?” asked Friends of the Peak president Mary Burger.

The mission statement also said motorized recreation, hunting and fishing would not be considered.

Fishing the reservoirs was one reason Jim Williams, a member of Trout Unlimited, signed up for the group.

“I think we may have to revise the whole policy,” he said.

Utilities staff assured them it was only a draft, and “everything is still on the table.”

“We need to strive for a balance though – today’s access versus tomorrow’s water,” said Scott Campbell, Utilities director of operations.


High flying: National Fly Fishing Championships return

September 27, 2007

http://dailycamera.com/news/2007/sep/27/national-fly-fishing-championships-return/

By Zak Brown
Thursday, September 27, 2007

When Jay Alipit steps into the rushing waters of the National Fly Fishing Championships next week, the cool Colorado flows will feel mighty familiar.

The Boulder angler will be one of more than 150 competitors at the Boulder-based championships, the largest fly fishing competition in America. At stake are individual and team gold, silver and bronze medals. And as a local angler, he has homestream advantage.

“I’ve fished these rivers for a long time and feel like I know them like the back of my hand,” Alipit said. “When you step into the waters, you immediately know what’s going to work, how spooky the fish are. (The competition stretches) are not the most popular sections, but I think they’re probably the more challenging on the waters.”

Five-member teams from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Ireland will assemble in Boulder for the championships, which are being held in northern Colorado for the second consecutive year. The competitors will fish for three days on the Big Thompson River, the Poudre River, Dowdy Lake and Parvin Lake. The lakes are part of the Red Feather Lakes area.

The areas around the fishing venues are open to the public, and spectators are welcome to watch. It is a chance to pick up some pointers from some of the best fishermen – or women – in the country. The competition is coed.

The winner will be determined by total centimeters after the three days of competition, and the species of trout caught has no bearing on who wins. There are two sessions on Oct. 3 and 4 and one session on Oct. 5. Anglers’ assignments, or beats, are determined randomly, and that’s why total centimeters won’t determine who gets spots on the U.S. national team.

The 55 American anglers, who earned their spot in Boulder through qualifiers, are vying for a chance to be considered for one of the 15 spots on Team USA. The qualifications are not objective. An angler’s skill and competency are also factored in when invites for the 2008 World Championships in New Zealand are handed out.

“Sometimes the competitors will draw bad beats (their fishing assignments) for the entire tournament and struggle,” said Paul Prentiss, chairman of the championships. “Then some will do really well, but draw good beats the whole time. So the coaches look for things like a competitor’s focus and skill and heart.”

Alipit competed at last year’s tournament and qualified for the tournament this year in Fresno, Calif. After seeing the type of competition he’s up against, he expects to be more prepared for this year.

“We were surrounded by great anglers. It was a learning experience for all of us, with the exception of the guys who were already on the team. It was great fun,” he said. “To have those type of anglers competing on our local waters, it’s pretty intense.”who gets spots on the U.S. national team.

The 55 American anglers, who earned their spot in Boulder through qualifiers, are vying for a chance to be considered for one of the 15 spots on Team USA. The qualifications are not objective. An angler’s skill and competency are also factored in when invites for the 2008 World Championships in New Zealand are handed out.

“Sometimes the competitors will draw bad beats (their fishing assignments) for the entire tournament and struggle,” said Paul Prentiss, chairman of the championships. “Then some will do really well, but draw good beats the whole time. So the coaches look for things like a competitor’s focus and skill and heart.”

Alipit competed at last year’s tournament and qualified for the tournament this year in Fresno, Calif. After seeing the type of competition he’s up against, he expects to be more prepared for this year.

“We were surrounded by great anglers. It was a learning experience for all of us, with the exception of the guys who were already on the team. It was great fun,” he said. “To have those type of anglers competing on our local waters, it’s pretty intense.”


Gunnison River diversion successfully installed

September 12, 2007

Another partner in the project was the Gunnison Angling Society, a chapter of Trout Unlimited. Spokesman Mern Judson said the chapter has worked for 10 years to get the old dam replaced and even though the work was scheduled during the chapter’s annual Superfly fundraiser, there was no question the work had to be done.

http://www.gjsentinel.com/sports/content/sports/stories/2007/09/12/091207_OUT_db_gunny_dam_WWW.html

By DAVE BUCHANAN The Daily Sentinel

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GUNNISON – An irrigation diversion on the Gunnison River that promises to be fish-, boater- and irrigator-friendly was completed last week after a decade of wrangling among concerned parties.

The new structure, actually three separate smaller dams, was designed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife to replace an earth-and-rock diversion that effectively blocked upstream fish passage during low water and also posed some hazards to boaters.

With Pagosa Springs-based stream rehabilitation contractor Dale Hockett of Elk Ridge Construction doing most of the heavy lifting and with water flow cooperation from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users, the project was completed inside four days and within the $50,000 budget, said DOW aquatic biologist Dan Brauch.

“I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” Brauch said. “From our initial design we put something together that would meet all the purposes of what we are trying to achieve in the project, which included easing kokanee passage upstream and improved boating safety downsteam.”

Also vital was maintaining water availability for irrigators and Brauch said the new structure, built largely from large boulders donated by the Colorado Division of Highways from one of its projects near Gunnison, will not only provide water to ditches but also not need the annual maintenance the older dam required.

“The design met all those objectives and then Dale came in and did some slight modifications on-site to make it better,” Brauch said. “We ended up with a much more natural-looking structure.”

Hockett has worked extensively with stream-rehabilitation guru Dave Rosgen and does most of Rosgen’s projects, Brauch said.

Hockett “is great at placing rocks and knows how they need to be built for stability,” Brauch said.

That talent is critical, since the new diversion is built to be inundated during spring runoff without washing away, as the old structure did each year.

“Most of the structure will disappear during high water, the only part you’ll see is right off the bank,” Brauch said. “It’s going to be more efficient than the old structure.”

Another partner in the project was the Gunnison Angling Society, a chapter of Trout Unlimited. Spokesman Mern Judson said the chapter has worked for 10 years to get the old dam replaced and even though the work was scheduled during the chapter’s annual Superfly fundraiser, there was no question the work had to be done.

“They were nice enough to call me and ask if we wanted to postpone the work since it meant lowering the water level in the Taylor River,” Judson said. “But I said, ‘Heck no, we’ve worked 10 years to get this done.’ ”

The work earlier had to be postponed because of high water levels. The Uncompahgre Valley water users and the Burec agreed to lower flows in the Taylor by 75 cubic feet per second to assist the construction.

Also helping in the project was Ray Trucking of Gunnison and a grant from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District paid $25,000 toward the work.

“Without their help this would not have happened,” Brauch said.

The DOW paid another $20,000 with the remainder coming from water users


First time’s a charm

September 12, 2007

GJ angler wins Superfly contest on his initial try

http://www.gjsentinel.com/sports/content/sports/stories/2007/09/12/091207_OUT_superfly_WWW.html

By DAVE BUCHANAN The Daily Sentinel

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GUNNISON – For every fall but one since 1989, the Gunnison Angling Society has conducted its Superfly fundraiser. In all those years, except the first, of course, it’s questionable if anyone entering the one-day fishing contest for the first time has won.

Matt Mayer of Grand Junction managed that feat last weekend when the Superfly novice garnered first place in a contest whose face has changed greatly from years past.

In prior years, the competition, a major fundraiser for the Gunnison Angling Society chapter of Trout Unlimited, was a one-fly contest with winning based on total number of inches of trout. You started with one fly and when that fly was no longer fishable (which mostly means hanging high in a tree or broken off by a fish) your fishing was done for the day.

In the past, whoever caught the most fish (equals usually most inches, right?) usually won.

This year, however, anglers were given free access to their fly box but were limited to recording only five trout, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, with one “wild card” trout at any time.

This put a premium on catching a big fish early, since you had to measure your first fish (kokanee salmon were not allowed) and being able to gamble later whether that 10-inch trout you caught with an hour left on the clock should be counted or released on the hopes of catching something bigger before time ran out.

Mayer, who runs a medical technology company in Grand Junction with his father, orthopedic surgeon David Mayer, made his life much easier when he hooked and netted a 19-inch rainbow on the East River with only a few minutes left in his morning beat.

“I caught it on a flashabou egg pattern, one they tie at Western Anglers, with a little beadhead,” said Mayer, who finished the contest with a total of 77 inches for five trout. “I’ve used it before so I had some confidence in it. We (Mayer, teammate Steve Ward and their guide) moved into this hole with 15 to 20 minutes left in the morning and I caught that fish with 5 minutes left.”

Unfortunately, no photos exist of the winning fish (although all fish were winning fish, since even a 10-inch fish might have been the clincher) because Mayer and Ward “were scrambling around so much to get Steve his last fish,” Mayer said.

The two members of the Grand Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited finished eighth as a team, and the other GVA team, comprised of Mac Cunningham and this woeful reporter, managed to clinch fifth.

Team fishing presents some interesting challenges. Mindy Sturm, a Realtor from Crested Butte, and Gene Hart, a long-time Gunnison River guide now living in Gunnison, paired up to take second in the team standings with 121 inches total and she said there was some strategy and gambling needed to finish high in the standings.

“I figured we needed at least a 15-inch fish (to win) and if I would have counted my 13-inch fish we would have lost by 2 inches,” she said. “So I released the 13-incher hoping for a bigger fish. We didn’t really know where anyone’s score was, I just felt I needed a 15-inch fish.”

But her gamble failed and she stuck on four fish, including one that went 15.5 inches, while Hart recorded five, the biggest a 151⁄4-inch rainbow (all fish were measured to the closest eighth-inch). The twosome finished 15 inches behind the eventual winners.

“But I really like the concept of working to catch a few big fish more than just hooking everything you can and getting it back in the water,” Sturm said. “There was a lot of strategy, (including) knowing the water and the holes and how many fish were sitting in the holes and getting the larger fish out of there.

“We caught almost a dozen (fish) each we didn’t count.”

But what can an everyday angler take out of a fishing competition, whether it’s the Superfly or the National Fly Fishing Championship slated for Colorado in October?

At first glance, it might seem competitive angling, even as low-key as the Gunnison Superfly, where emphasis in put on enjoying oneself, offers little for the average fly fisher, but that’s like saying nothing comes out of NASCAR.

Just as many improvements in engines, safety and equipment have grown from the cars that go fast just so they can turn left, anglers can gain something by watching competitive anglers.

“There’s a lesson in knowing the river and how to stay out of trouble with your fly because every river has so many spots where you can into trouble,” offered Mayer, who won a Scott fly rod. “I’d say you have to have a fly you can fish with confidence, but also don’t be afraid (to change flies) if one isn’t working for you. I used so many different flies, I wouldn’t have done nearly as well if it was still a one-fly contest.”


A little help please for Headwaters TU!

September 11, 2007

Colorado Headwaters TU is looking for a few volunteers for a couple of fun and worthwhile causes…. (1). Teach fishing to East Grand Middle School students and (2). Support BLM public land day.We need volunteers to help teach fishing to the East Grand Middle School as part of our Headwaters Outreach Initiative. Volunteers will teach the students about fish and insects, their habitat, where to find them and how to catch them. (Info on what to say is provided if you are not comfortable with the topics).
We need volunteers for Monday the 17th and Wednesday the 19th at the Fraser ponds from 8:30 till 3:00. Thursday the 27th in Rocky Mountain National Park not sure on time yet.

BLM Public Lands Day Saturday Sept 29th. Trail building from the Strawberry Road into the Fraser River Canyon. This project will enhance current trail and parking areas, add an information kiosk and revegetate certain areas.
Volunteers can meet at the trail head on the Strawberry road at 8:30am or at Snow Mountain Ranch at 7:30 with transportation provided. A Party will be held for volunteers back at Snow Mountain Ranch that afternoon with free food and beer.

Interested volunteers can call Scott for more info W 726-5652 or H 887-1657.
Please considering helping with these important projects.


CTU Leads Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup Sept. 15

September 10, 2007

http://denver.yourhub.com/Boulder/Stories/Environment/Cleanups/Story~358219.aspx

BOULDER, Colo. – Sept. 6, 2007 – Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU), a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries, will lead the fourth annual Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup on Saturday, September 15, to remove trash and debris from river banks and channels throughout the state. CTU members and volunteers will scour designated river stretches near Aspen, Basalt, Boulder, Buena Vista, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Evergreen, Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Idaho Springs, Granby, Leadville, Lyons, Pueblo, Silverthorne, Salida and Winter Park to remove trash and elevate the health of Colorado’s water sources.

“We rely on Colorado’s clean water supply everyday – it is one of our most precious natural resources,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “It is vital for people to work together to keep Colorado’s rivers clean. The Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup is a way for people in the community to get involved and make a difference. By picking up trash along the rivers, volunteers can help restore and protect the water sources we use everyday.”

The majority of the Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup events are planned for the morning of Saturday, September 15, with a few events taking place on September 8, September 29 and October 13. With most of the cleanup efforts on a single day, CTU hopes to attract hundreds of volunteers for a large-scale, coordinated cleanup effort. CTU plans the Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup for the fall season because river flow is generally lower, making access to the rivers and cleanup efforts easier and safer.

“Last year, the Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup attracted hundreds of volunteers,” said Nickum. “We have no doubt that this year will be an even bigger success. We encourage people to find the event in their local community and get involved.”

Fifteen CTU chapters across the state will host cleanup events on 13 Colorado river stretches, including: Animas River, Arkansas River from Leadville through Salida, Arkansas River near Pueblo, Bear Creek, Blue River, Boulder Creek, Cache la Poudre, Clear Creek, Roaring Fork River (in cooperation with Roaring Fork Conservancy), South Platte near Elevenmile Canyon, South Platte in Denver (in partnership with the Greenway Foundation), St. Vrain River and the Upper Colorado River. For more information about the Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup or Colorado Trout Unlimited, visit www.cotrout.org.

About Colorado Trout Unlimited

Colorado Trout Unlimited is dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. The statewide organization has nearly 10,000 members and is part of the national Trout Unlimited organization. Colorado Trout Unlimited fulfills its mission through advocacy and education efforts regarding the impact of drought and pollution on water-based ecosystems, and by engaging volunteers in hands-on projects to improve and rehabilitate Colorado’s river systems. For more information about Colorado Trout Unlimited, visit www.cotrout.org.