Colorado River Float

December 22, 2010

As an example of my lameness, I realized that I had neglected to post a trip report on my really great trip on the Colorado River with my buddy James Stevens and Uber-guide Jack Bombardier of Confluence Casting.

James and Jack – loading up and leaving Sweetwater

The trip is a full-day float from the sleepy ‘village’ (read: couple of trailers and a general store) of Sweetwater down about 13 miles or so back to the Confluence Casting shop, which sits on the left bank of the river.  Its a full day, as the gradient of the river is reasonably flat, with only a few splashy rapids over the course of the day.  The river is wide and slow, with plenty of back-eddies and small nooks to drop the boat in for 10 or 15 casts.  There are plenty of spots to get out and wade, enjoying knee-deep water and plenty of holding spots.

Given that the trip is a full day, there is ample time for reflection and discussion, and Jack is certainly a very knowledgeable guy, with plenty of information on fishing, but on the current and future conditions on the river, if things continue to go the way it looks like they may (e.g. more pressure on taking water out of the Headwaters).

Jack and James reflecting on the condition of the Mightly Colorado

As the day glides along, and the sun starts to dip – the true colors and grandeur of this hidden canyon are revealed.  Since this section is north of I-70, and only has a rarely used dirt road bordering the stream, you really feel like you are out somewhere special, that few have ever seen or explored.

James casting in the waning light

Jack enlightened us with knowledge of some great camping spots – where nobody would find you in a week, let alone an afternoon…

And finally, we pulled into Jack’s shop after the sun had set and a chill had cast itself over the river.  A quiet night after a great day on the water.

Sunset is passing on the Colorado River

Moving water the right way creates aquatic playground

December 22, 2010

Reed Dils continues quest for recreational water availability

Pueblo Chieftain

As dams have changed flows on the Arkansas River, recreation has become a substantial industry.

 For Reed Dils, it’s more like a cause.

Dils, now a member of Trout Unlimited, is also a member of the Southeastern board and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. He also represents recreation uses of water on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.

Just talking about the issues is a step down the road to solutions.

Blue is the New Green

December 21, 2010

A cool concept from Montana…check it out.

A Small Town With Big Plans For Their River

December 16, 2010

By Joanie Muzzulin, Purgatoire River Anglers Chapter Secretary

Southeastern Colorado and the town of Trinidad have been known for many things through the years, but a popular destination for fl y fi shing was not one of them. A group of passionate community members and a new Trout Unlimited
Chapter are determined to change that.

Seventy-five years ago it was written in the local newspaper that water and fi shing could be a good tourist draw for Trinidad. But through the years the Purgatoire was plagued with floods and drought. In 1975 the Trinidad Lake Dam was built, controlling the fl oods but creating high summer velocity and very low winter fl ows in the river. About the time the dam opened, the last of the coal mines closed, and the economy of Trinidad faltered. No one seemed to care about the Purgatoire, and many had come to use it as a dumping ground.

But a few, like Chapter President Howard Lackey, could see beyond the trash and invasive plants and envision the potential of the Purgatoire River as a trout steam. Howard’s grandfather taught him the best way to recover from a stressful day of work is to take out the fl y rod, and that is easier to do with a stream near where you work and live. The Trinidad Community Foundation was founded in 2006, with a mission to improve the quality of life in Trinidad and Las Animas County. Howard was on the board of directors, and one of the fi rst projects tackled was improving the river corridor. The Foundation began a spring clean-up of the river corridor. They partnered with The Comcast Foundation, and this spring over 230 people volunteered at the Comcast Cares clean-up event.

Members from Chapter 509 Southern Colorado Greenbacks in Pueblo had become interested in the Purgatoire River a couple of years ago, and toured it with city offi cials and Kim Pacheco Schultz, the Executive Director of the Trinidad-Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce. They were excited by the possibilities but knew it would be difficult to work on a project 75 miles away. Chapter 509 generously off ered to allow a new TU chapter to form in their southeastern Colorado territory. A meeting was held in September 2009 to measure the local interest, and Chapter 100, Purgatoire River Anglers, came into being that night.

A year later, Chapter 100 has over 50 members in this sparsely populated area. The fi rst Embrace-a-Steam grant was applied for before the chapter was even fully chartered. Pete Gallagher of Fin-up Habitat Consultants was hired and has completed an assessment and a preliminary plan for a demonstration project in the center of Trinidad, where the Purgatoire River crosses under Interstate 25, past Cimino Park. It appears that funding for the initial phase will come this spring through generous donations from several partners, too numerous to mention in this limited space. Eradication of the invasive trees, mainly Russian olives, is being done by the State Forestry Service. Hopefully the first phase of the Purgatoire River Project will be completed by next winter. When the highway overpass replacement is finally finished on Interstate 25, travelers on their way into or out of Colorado will be able to look down at an inviting Purgatoire River and maybe consider stopping to fi sh awhile.

The community has rallied around the river project. No one says “no” when they are asked if they would like to help. They can envision the Purgatoire River as a beautiful asset to the community and are stepping up to make that dream happen.

Don’t just ‘give’ – Invest!

December 15, 2010

A Special Message from CTU’s

President, Sinjin Eberle

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and for cash-strapped non-profit organizations to turn up the end-of-year fundraising machine.  In the 2009/2010 recession, few categories of organizations have suffered more than non-profits.  These are the same organizations that do the vital work, on the ground, caring for or promoting many of the issues, places, or cultures that we care about, and that make our world interesting and dynamic.  Governments can’t do it, individuals can’t do it – but it must be done, and whatever ‘it’ is, it gets done via the non-selfish work of the staffs and volunteers of people who step up to the plate for these non-profit organizations.

But that aside, we are still asking for people to ‘donate,’ to ‘give with their hearts,’ or to ‘scrape up a little bit for the places/issues we love.’

It seems to me that asking it that way may be the wrong approach, so how about this one – Invest in the causes and places that you care about the most.

People have little trouble thinking about investing in Apple, or Google, or Ford Motor Company, or Berkshire Hathaway, and that investment is going towards giving the investor a better future – planning for something ahead.

So why is it so hard for people the think about investing in another way – in the places or issues that you care about?  It’s still putting your hard earned dollars towards something you want to be there in the future – a free-flowing river, places to hike, fish, or contemplate.  Species you want to see preserved for your kids and grandkids to experience outside of a zoo.  We talk about wanting these places and experiences to thrive into the future and place a real value on them to ourselves and those we love – so why is it so hard for people to see that investing in those things is just as satisfying and forward-thinking as investing in the stock market?

The rivers can’t protect themselves, and certainly the time is past when we can simply assume that rules and governance can always provide the protection that these valuable places need to survive in a healthy and sustainable manner .  They require investment, human efforts and passion, and yes, money, to be there in our futures.  Just like we want Apple or Google or Ford to be there, to thrive, and to provide dividends for us into the future.

This holiday season, don’t forget to invest your money in what really matters, and those things you care about for the future.  It matters much more than another trinket that will sit on a shelf.

To make a high-impact investment in Colorado’s rivers and coldwater fisheries, click here please click here.

Colorado Water Projects Prompt Calls for River Protection

December 14, 2010
Kirk Siegler

HOT SULPHER SPRINGS, CO (KUNC) – About thirty million westerners depend on the Colorado River and its tributaries for survival. In Colorado, much of the famed river’s water is diverted and then channeled up and over the mountains to the dry, eastern plains of the Front Range where most Coloradans live. Now, two powerful water agencies along the Front Range are proposing to take even more water that they are legally entitled to – but not currently able to use. As KUNC’s Kirk Siegler reports below, it’s setting the stage for another battle.

A ‘Train Wreck’

A few miles away from the headwaters of one of the most altered waterways in the world, the Colorado River looks more like a stream as it runs through the sleepy little town of Hot Sulpher Springs.

Over time, water projects have reduced flows on this river so much that the big, iconic cottonwoods aren’t growing back as quickly because most of the water that used to come in the spring floods doesn’t get here anymore. It’s captured upstream and sent over the Continental Divide to Denver and the Front Range. Less water in the summer also means warmer temperatures and algae.

It’s hard to notice all of this, now in frigid December, as Kirk Klanke walks over crusty snow on his way down to the river’s banks.

“There’s a tremendous amount of algae that we’re not seeing because of the ice buildup,” he says. “But if we tried walking across there, we’d understand how much rock snot’ is growing on those rocks.”

Klanke, president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, says lower flows are good for algae but bad news for fish, and the local recreation-based economy.

“Colorado’s in a train wreck, if we don’t wake up to the fact that this natural environment is threatened,” Klanke says.

Fishermen fret about Arkansas River flows

December 13, 2010
Pueblo Chieftain

Members of Trout Unlimited expressed concern that increased urban demand for water could harm fish  in  the  Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam.

“In the newspaper this morning was an article about how Woodmoor is planning a marathon (to acquire water rights),” Ted Sillox, a member of the Trout Unlimited Greenback Chapter, told state wildlife officials this week. “What’s the best route we can take to help stream flows?”

Sillox and several other members said the $7 million Legacy Project on the Arkansas River is threatened as more cities buy water rights and move the water out of the Arkansas Valley.