Trout Unlimited eyes Arkansas River restoration

April 5, 2011
Summit Voice
by Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Trout Unlimited this week awarded a $4,500  Embrace-A-Stream grant to its Collegiate Peaks chapter in the Upper Arkansas River Valley. The chapter, based in Salida and Buena Vista, proposes to conduct assessment and stakeholders meetings for the South Arkansas River to create a plan for conservation and restoration of the entire river corridor.

This plan would act as the blueprint for future work conducted by the Collegiate Peaks Anglers Chapter and the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas by identifying projects that would improve fish habitat, stabilize banks, remove obstacles, restore native vegetation, and reduce negative impacts into the system. Many of these future projects would be in partnership with private landowners and utilize community volunteers.

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.

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.

Settlement reached in Dry Gulch water case

December 9, 2010
By Randi Pierce staff

After years of litigation, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation and San Juan Water Conservancy districts have agreed to the terms of a settlement with Trout Unlimited in the case of the proposed Dry Gulch Reservoir.

The local chapter of TU brought forth litigation in 2004 over concerns that the then 35,000 acre-foot reservoir and accompanying rights for diversion and refill amounted to a water grab on the part of PAWSD.

“The settlement underscores that municipal water projects must be based on well-founded, substantiated data about future growth and water needs,” [Trout Unlimited’s attorney, Andrew] Peternell said in the press release. “In a time of water scarcity, Colorado must embrace water solutions that meet a range of needs, including municipal growth, agriculture and wildlife and recreation. No water user can take more than its fair share.”


Pagosa reservoir closer to reality

December 6, 2010
Durango Herald
By Patrick Young

“This is a victory for the San Juan River,” Drew Peternell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project, said in a news release issued Friday. “The original application could have been devastating to fish habitat and the river ecosystem, but now we have a settlement that balances the districts’ need for water with the health of the San Juan.”

Trout Unlimited twice appealed the district court’s decision to award water rights for the project on the grounds that the districts were being too speculative in their predictions of population growth. In both instances, the Colorado Supreme Court sided with the environmental group and denied the project’s water rights.

As part of the deal, the water districts have agreed to draw no more than 11,000 acre-feet per year with a 10-year average of no more than 9,300 acre-feet per year. The districts also must maintain water levels in the San Juan equal to twice the flow required by the Colorado Water Conservancy Board’s in-stream flow requirements.

In-stream flow water rights are water rights held by the water conservancy board, mandating minimum water levels in the state’s waterways to prevent environmental degradation.

Christo’s Plan for Arkansas River Wrapped in Controversy

November 17, 2010
New West
By David Frey

In its comments to the BLM, Colorado Trout Unlimited voiced concerns about 9,100 boreholes that would be put in the riverbank to anchor the cables. The group also worried about the possibility of fuel or chemical spills and the risk of a “catastrophic failure” of the project.

“Long-lasting scars can remain in watersheds even after reclamation work is completed,” wrote Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director David Nickum.