April 5, 2009
A further comment on the March 25 front page Long Draw article. The local Trout Unlimited chapter, Rocky Mountain FlyCasters, sued the U.S. Forest Service. What the article left out was why. The lawsuit forced the USFS’s obligation to care for a watershed instead of blindly permitting a privately held water company. The lawsuit was actually filed in 1994, not 2004. It languished in appeal until the volunteer efforts of a lawyer brought it before a judge.
What the judge remanded was absolutely remarkable and a victory for the people of Colorado. He said put the water back in the stream or mitigate – make up for your sins. Winter water flow to La Poudre Pass Creek was impossible because of a dam enlargement, so it forced an historic compromise. The USFS, Trout Unlimited and the Water Conservation District had to sit down and hammer out a compromise to please the judge. Amazingly, that is what they did.
Now, partially funded by the Water Conservancy District and in coordination with the USFS and Rocky Mountain National Park, the largest native fish restoration in the United States will occur in our backyard. The watershed above Long Draw will be repopulated with Greenback Cutthroat Trout. TU volunteers will help. This historic victory proves something. Solutions do exist when organizations sit down to talk. I applaud the courageous individuals who helped it happen: Doc Sheets, Paul Fromme, Dave Piske, Ken Eis and other local heroes who care!
past president Rocky Mountain FlyCasters