Colorado Volunteer Sharon Lance Receives Trout Unlimited’s Highest Award

September 24, 2010

Trout Unlimited has awarded its top volunteer honor to Sharon Lance, of Centennial, Colo.  TU President and CEO Chris Wood presented her with the award at the organization’s annual meeting in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire this past weekend.

The Ray Mortensen Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership is granted annually to a “one in a thousand” individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to local coldwater fisheries conservation efforts.

During her 20-year involvement in TU, Lance has held numerous volunteer leadership positions, including president of the Cutthroat Chapter, located in suburban Denver. She has served as Colorado Trout Unlimited’s treasurer, vice president and president.  She has, for the last five years, served as a trustee on TU’s board of trustees.

Lance, President of Fortin Financial Services, Inc., and a certified financial planner,  was a driving force in creating Colorado Trout Unlimited’s River Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp, a camp that teaches conservation and fly fishing to children ages 14 to 18. She was instrumental in bringing the Trout in the Classroom program to Colorado, an educational curriculum that teaches children about trout and conservation by having students raise trout in their classrooms.  Lance also led the Cheesman Canyon Restoration Project  along the South Platte River which rebuilt the Gill Trail and added river access trails to make the canyon safer and reduce erosion.  Read the full list of 2010 TU Volunteer Awards here.

State scrambles to find flows for fish

September 24, 2010
Pueblo Chieftain

Some of the raceways at the state fish hatchery have been shut down and thousands of fish stocked early in response to low flows in the Arkansas River.

The Division of Wildlife scrambled this week to come up with a plan to keep a minimal amount of water in the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam in order to save fish. Wildlife officials say cooperation helped, but a better solution is needed.

“There were some concerns from fishermen and Trout Unlimited about water temperature around Labor Day,” said Dan Prenzlow, southeastern regional manager for the DOW. “Here we are in a relatively good water year, seeing a drop in river levels.”

DOW purchased 1,000 acre-feet of water for $25,000 from Colorado Springs Utilities, but won’t begin releasing it until Saturday. In the meantime, State Parks continues to release water to keep flows up.

Get your tickets to the first annual Grasshopper Festival Sept. 25th in Eagle!

September 21, 2010

The Eagle Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited is excited to announce their First Annual Grasshopper Festival planned for this Saturday, September 25th 3pm at the Brush Creek Pavilion in Eagle, Colorado.

The event includes dinner, kid friendly activities and games, and an opportunity to win fly fishing gear and swag.  A special shout out to the event sponsor,  The Dusty Boot Steakhouse & Saloon, who will provide delicious food!

Tickets are $10 each and kids 12 and under eat and get in for free. Get your tickets by clicking here.

Interested in sponsoring this event through a tax-deductible contribution to Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited?  Opportunities range from the $250-$1,000 range.  Contact Alex for more info at

See you Saturday!

Denver Post Guest Commentary: Ensuring full funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund

September 20, 2010

By Andrew Currie, Ken Strom, and Erica Stock

If you live in Colorado, you know that we are privileged to enjoy countless breathtaking vistas, magical wilderness areas laced with free-flowing rivers, and highly-rated urban parks and trails every day for recreation, sports or just some peace and quiet.

What many of us might not know is that a large number of our most beloved lakes, streams, woodlands, local parks and playgrounds have been protected for us by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is the principal source of federal dollars for protecting land in America’s national parks, forests, and other public landscapes and ensuring recreational opportunities for Americans in every state in the nation. LWCF helps fund many of Colorado’s recreation areas like the Platte River trail system, Castlewood Canyon State Park and Garden of the Gods, as well as national treasures like Yellowstone National Park, California’s Big Sur Coast, Florida’s Everglades, and historic Civil War battlefields.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created by Congress in 1965 and is authorized to receive $900 million annually in federal revenues from offshore oil and gas leasing. Unfortunately, the LWCF program has received full funding only once in its history. In recent years, it has steadily declined to a low in appropriated funding of $155 million in 2008, and in total has been shortchanged about $17 billion since its inception.

Despite this, the LWCF has worked in every state of the Union – indeed nearly every county in every district in America – to fund state and local park activities. These projects contribute not only to our natural environment, but also create jobs and draw visitors for recreation, sporting and other activities.

Colorado’s treasure of mountains, rivers and great outdoors brings in hundreds of thousands of outdoor recreationists annually – participating in bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, paddling, snow sports, hiking, climbing and wildlife viewing – who generate an estimated $10 billion in state tax revenues and retail sales and services across the state while supporting over 100,000 jobs.

LWCF began as part of a simple deal: as America’s oil and gas was extracted from federal lands and waters, a portion of the associated revenue was intended to be reinvested in conservation of the lands and waters Americans care about. But even though there’s been more than enough revenue year after year from the oil and gas leasing to fully fund LWCF at no cost to the American taxpayer, Congress has diverted the funds and failed to use the money for its intended purpose.

Efforts are underway, supported by groups across Colorado and the nation, to insure the long overdue full funding for LWCF. Recently on July 30, the issue to fully fund LWCF passed in the U.S House of Representatives. We applaud our Colorado delegates heartily for their efforts and role in this success. Congresswoman Betsy Markey, 4th District Colorado, cast her affirmative vote that day joining Jared Polis and Diana DeGette, and Colorado U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet were instrumental by co-sponsoring legislation in the Senate that would ensure a dedicated source for permanent full funding of LWCF.

But the fight to make things right is not over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tabled the Senate’s discussion and vote on the LWCF until after the August recess, fearing he would not have enough votes to pass the issue. We must ensure that full and permanent funding for LWCF remains a priority in September.

Let’s make this extraordinary value crystal “clear” for Congress. We greatly appreciate what Congresswoman Markey, Senator Udall, Senator Bennet and others have already accomplished, and we urge our Colorado Senators to keep up their strong leadership as the LWCF goes before the Senate, and to continue their robust support.

A victory here will finally and rightfully ensure full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our best tools for conserving the Nation’s great outdoors, increasing recreational access to our favorite parks and natural places, and supporting the tourist and recreation industry jobs and businesses that in large measure contribute to Colorado’s economic health.

Andrew Currie is founder of Conservation Havens, LLC. Ken Strom is the director of Audubon Colorado, the state program of the National Audubon Society. Erica Stock is the outreach director for Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Long Draw fight becoming more long, drawn-out

September 13, 2010

A long-running battle over the management of Long Draw Reservoir and efforts to restore a native trout species to its waters appears likely to run even longer.

Fort Collins-based Water Supply & Storage Co. plans to appeal a U.S. Forest Service decision released Sept. 3 that would make it fully responsible for implementing a 15-year plan to restore the greenback cutthroat trout in the reservoir and surrounding streams.

The mitigation program’s cost could be considerably higher than the approximately $800,000 projected by the Forest Service in an environmental impact statement, said Dennis Harmon, general manager of the irrigation company.

But even that figure would be more than the company should have to pay in order to keep its permit to operate the reservoir, which was built in 1929 and expanded in 1974.

“We just think this is way out of line for something that is already permitted,” he said. “We haven’t changed how this facility operates since the ’70s.

“We think this mitigation is more appropriate for a new reservoir in the wilderness than on 53 acres of existing reservoir.”

Long Draw Reservoir sits below the east side of the Continental Divide, about 35 miles west of Fort Collins in the Roosevelt National Forest. Its water comes from the Grand River Ditch, which traverses a section of Rocky Mountain National Park, and tributary streams.

Water from the reservoir is released into La Poudre Pass Creek, a tributary to the Poudre River.

An effort to renew a Forest Service permit for the expanded portion of the reservoir turned into a decade-long fight when Colorado Trout Unlimited sued in 1994 over a plan that would keep La Poudre Pass Creek dry during the winter. In 2004, a U.S. District Court threw out the permit, forcing the Forest Service to start the permitting process over and to come up with a plan that would protect trout habitat.

Ask our Gubernatorial Candidates to Protect Colorado’s Rivers at Upcoming Candidate Forums

September 13, 2010

Beginning this Friday, September 17th, CTU members and other sportsmen will have a series of opportunities to meet the major candidates for Colorado Governor and hear their views on issues of importance to the sportsmen’s conservation community.

The candidate forums will be held at Mickey’s Top Sirloin (6950 N. Broadway Denver, Colorado 80221) on the following dates:

Mayor John Hickenlooper
Friday, September 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Candidate Dan Maes
(date to be determined)

Candidate Tom Tancredo
Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Micky’s Top Sirloin will provide a free taco bar and soft drinks to attendees.  Beer and cocktails will be available for purchase.

The gubernatorial candidate forums are sponsored by a coalition of sportsmen’s conservation groups including Colorado Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, and others.  Click here for full list of cosponsors and forum details.

TU hires new Upper Colorado River coordinator

September 3, 2010


Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project today announced the hiring of Rob Firth as project coordinator for the Upper Colorado River Basin in Grand and Summit Counties.

Firth, a longtime resident of Hot Sulphur Springs, retired in 2008 after a distinguished 25-year career with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  For most of his career, he served as a district and area wildlife manager in Grand, Summit and parts of Routt and Eagle Counties in northwest Colorado.  More recently, he served as the DOW’s statewide chief of law enforcement.  Over the years, his varied duties included enforcement of game laws, protection of land and water resources, wildlife and fisheries management, and public education.

“We are excited to put Rob Firth’s experience and skills to work protecting fish and wildlife habitat in the Upper Colorado River Basin,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water Project, which works to improve stream flows and coldwater fisheries in the state.  “Rob is a trusted local voice on resource issues.  And he knows how to bring people together to find solutions.  That makes him a perfect choice to coordinate projects on behalf of TU in the Upper Colorado.”

For many years, the health of the Upper Colorado River Basin, including the Fraser and Williams Fork Rivers and other important tributaries, has suffered as a result of large-scale diversions of water to Colorado’s Front Range, with low stream flows degrading coldwater fish habitat.  Along with Colorado Water Project counsel Mely Whiting, Firth will work to assure that the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project and Moffat Tunnel Firming Project do not further damage an already over-tapped river system.

Firth will also plan and implement on-the-ground projects that improve coldwater habitat in the Upper Colorado River Basin.  Among other duties, he will work closely with water users, private land owners and agency staff to identify opportunities to restore streams and implement cooperative agreements with irrigators that benefit agricultural operations and fish habitat simultaneously. 

“I have always respected Trout Unlimited as an outstanding grassroots sportsmen’s conservation group,” said Firth. “I’m eager to work with local partners to find ways to protect and enhance our fisheries here on the West Slope.”

In 2005, Grand County presented Firth with an outstanding Citizen award.  In 2007, he was named the Colorado Trapper’s Association Wildlife Professional of the Year.