Sportsman’s watchman

June 7, 2010
A tribute to outdoorsman/journalist charlie meyers

By Karl Licis
Special to The Denver Post

On Saturday, the property through which the Dream Stream flows will be dedicated as the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area in his honor.

Following, in random order, are some shared thoughts from people with a connection to the stream of dreams.

* * *

“Completely sated.” Roger Hill is an expert angler, innovator and author of “Fly Fishing the South Platte River: an Angler’s Guide,” the first insightful book addressing the Dream Stream. He lives in Colorado Springs and is credited with procuring 12 miles of barbed wire for the Cheyenne Mountain chapter of Trout Unlimited for fencing the property in order to keep out the cattle.

“It’s always been a challenge, but also very rewarding. It’s had great hatches and demanding fish, but when you were on them it was incredibly good. I have many fond memories of days when the fishing was so good I would leave the river completely sated by the early afternoon.”

* * *

For future generations. Sinjin Eberle is board president for Colorado Trout Unlimited, which has been involved in every aspect of making the Dream Stream what it has become. Eberle has limited Dream Stream experience, but he coordinated CTU’s Buffalo Peaks project in the upper South Platte drainage. There he met Meyers.

“I was telling him all about the project and he was listening, but he also was observing every mayfly and every rising trout. He was fully in tune with every bit of the nature that was all around him, and that really drove home the point to me about why we’re doing these things — the need to pass it on for future generations.

“The Dream Stream, along with two or three other rivers in Colorado, is widely known nationally and internationally, and he was a big part of making it what it is.”

Redstone Call for Attendance

March 22, 2008

Folks –

Need to get a good sense of your chapter’s attendance for the Redstone Spring Rendezvous, April 11 – 14 in Redstone Colorado.  We are trying to gauge what level of experience (have members attending been to the event before, or are they new) who will be there, so that we can structure the event accordingly.

Please email Steve Craig or David Nickum with who from your chapter is going to be there, and if they have been there before or not as soon as you can find out.  It will really help the planning process.



Healing Troubled Waters – TU Climate Change Report

December 6, 2007

TU’s climate change report, ” Healing Troubled Waters” was released yesterday. You can download a copy, read the FAQ and related links at:

Study: Climate change will endanger trout

December 6, 2007

By Cory Hatch December 6, 2007
A survey of scientific studies on climate change and fish shows that Western populations of trout could diminish by as much as 60 percent as water warms, bugs disappear and droughts become more prevalent.

The report, compiled by Trout Unlimited, looks at the effects of climate change on trout and salmon habitat across the country. The report also suggests ways to make habitat more resilient to threats associated with a predicted 2 to 10 degree global temperature increase during the next 100 years.

Jack Williams, chief scientist for Trout Unlimited, said trout and salmon are good indicators of ecosystem health because they require cold, clean water for spawning, egg survival and rearing of young.

“We’re already seeing the effects of climate change,” said Williams, who pointed out that mayflies, an important food source for trout, are starting to emerge at an earlier time of year. “We’ve got a lot of trout populations that are poised to lose about half of their range.”

In addition to warmer water and impacts on insects, Williams said, climate change could mean greater floods, reduced snowpack, earlier runoffs, more wildfires and increased insect infestations in forests, all of which can hurt trout populations.

Bob Gresswell, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, studies cutthroat trout in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including one project below Jackson Lake Dam. Gresswell says trout across the West are so susceptible to climate change because development and irrigation pressures have already pushed populations into more isolated, high-elevation streams.

Further, humans have introduced non-native fish such as rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout and brown trout into cutthroat trout ecosystems, increasing the risk of hybridization and predation. Climate change could amplify the negative effects non-native fish have on trout, Gresswell said.

For instance, reproduction times for rainbow trout and cutthroat trout are somewhat isolated by the spring runoff. Cutthroat trout spawn just after the peak runoff and rainbow trout spawn just before. But with spring runoff coming earlier each year, Gresswell said, rainbow trout could eventually come to a point when they can’t spawn any earlier, and the chance of hybridization could increase.

Gresswell pointed to fish die-offs and fishing closures in Yellowstone and Montana as a probable sign that global warming is already affecting trout populations.

“I worked in the park for 17 years and we never closed the fishery even once [because of warm water],” he said.

Both Gresswell and Williams said that while it could be too late to stop climate change, it isn’t too late to make trout habitat more resilient to its effects.

“Let’s start working right now on things that we can do to our local stream systems to prepare for the kinds of impacts that we know are coming,” Williams said.

Restoration efforts include trying to reconnect larger low-elevation waterways to the smaller upper-elevation streams native trout now inhabit.

“That allows the fish to basically move around and find better habitat conditions,” Williams said.
Other ways to protect trout include removing old culverts, planting native trees and shrubs along streams to provide shade and protect stream banks, and placing logs and boulders in the stream to provide sections with deeper, cooler water.

Salmon, trout populations will be hurt by global warming, but it’s not too late to act, report states

December 6, 2007

December 5, 2007

Climate change will hurt trout and salmon populations, but there is still time to act before it’s too late, a report released today from Trout Unlimited states.

“Healing Troubled Waters” highlights how global warming will affect the nation’s game fish populations, stating that they are likely to decline by 50 percent or more, and some populations, such as the bull trout found in high-mountain areas in the West could be cut by as much as 90 percent.

But Congress could appropriate money in the future to find ways to help make coldwater fish populations sustainable despite the climate change, and in fact Congress is making some progress on that very issue even today, the report stated.

The complete report is available at

Enviros up pressure on Ritter over the Roan

November 28, 2007

David Frey – Aspen Daily News Correspondent

Fri 11/23/2007 11:00PM MST

Environmentalists and sportsmen’s groups are calling for a “final push” encouraging Gov. Bill Ritter to seek more protections from energy development on the Roan Plateau. Their effort comes in the waning days of the review period the governor asked for to study the drilling plan put in place before he took office.

The effort is part of conservationists’ two-pronged approach meant to keep gas rigs off the surface of the plateau to protect the landscape and habitat for species like deer and elk.

In addition to pressuring the governor to urge the Bureau of Land Management to ban drilling from the top, drilling foes are encouraging lawmakers to support language in the energy bill that would keep drilling off the Roan for at least a year. Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall, both Colorado Democrats, succeeded in getting that language included in the House version of the bill.

“Success with both the legislature and the governor’s review is going to be really important,” said Clare Bastable, conservation director for the Colorado Mountain Club. “What they decide to do in Washington is equally as important as the plan itself.”

Ritter’s office isn’t indicating what action the governor will take after the review period ends in mid-December. Spokesman Evan Dreyer said his options range from endorsing the current plan to making his own recommendations. But even if he offers his own plan, the BLM may not listen.

“There is nothing that obligates the federal government to pay any heed to us should we offer recommendations,” Dreyer said, “so in short, it is all still a very unsettled picture.”

The BLM has approved a plan that would allow gas drilling on top of the Roan, but with phasing intended to limit surface disturbance and protect wildlife. The plan was based largely on recommendations by the state Division of Natural Resources, which worried that drilling on the plateau could harm the species that call it home.

But that was under Ritter’s predecessor, Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican. After Ritter, a Democrat, took office in January, he asked for a chance to review the project. The BLM initially refused until Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., brother of Rep. Salazar, threatened to withhold consideration of President Bush’s nominee to head the BLM.

The energy industry is also stepping up its efforts to press for drilling on the plateau. Last month, the group Americans for American Energy released a study that claimed the state could reap $1.2 billion in the first year of drilling on the Roan Plateau, and that local and regional bodies would gain $6 billion in royalties and taxes over 30 years and $11 billion in industry investment. Environmentalists questioned those numbers.

“It only makes sense, I think, to go slow on developing resources like the Roan,” said Bastable, who said most of the gas leases already approved haven’t been drilled on yet. “We’re in no danger of losing revenue.”

In recent weeks, conservation organizations and hunting and fishing groups have organized phone banks, appeared in radio ads and have encouraged members to call Ritter and Sen. Salazar to encourage more protections for the Roan.

“Nobody’s saying that you can’t extract gas out of the ground,” said Bill Dvorak, of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re just saying there’s ways to do it that will leave the wildlife habitat intact.”

Dvorak said he would like to see energy companies use methods like directional drilling to reach the gas under the plateau without drilling new wells. He said he worries not only about protecting the habitat on top of the Roan, but some of the remaining habitat below. That’s important winter range, he said, but it’s already been impacted by a “web” of wells and roads.

“We think eventually there will be ways to extract the gas,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, “but we have to have a little bit of patience so we strike the right balance and protect critical wildlife habitat.”

In addition to species like deer and elk, the Roan is also home to some rare populations of native cutthroat trout. That has raised concerns among anglers.

“They’re a pretty unique population of fish up there,” said Ken Neubecker, vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “Right now, while they’ve survived thousands of years in these small populations, a single accident up there, either from stormwater discharge or a tanker truck spill, could wipe these populations out. There’s no need to rush into this and go after this gas.”

The energy industry has said the gas could be extracted without harming wildlife. An estimated 8.9 trillion cubic feet of federally-owned natural gas is believed to lie 8,000 to 11,000 feet below, enough to heat 4 million homes for 20 years. Supporters believe that could be an important source of domestic fuel, from an area originally set aside for energy production.

Ritter’s spokesman Dreyer said the governor’s office hasn’t seen a big increase in phone calls or correspondences from either environmental groups or drilling supporters, but that will likely change as the governor’s deadline approaches.

Drilling opponents said they hope the governor will seek to keep gas rigs off the surface of the Roan, and the BLM will listen.

“He’s the head of the state government and represents the people in Colorado,” Neubecker said. “His voice, I hope, would be important in protecting the resources on top of the Roan in the face of, really, this juggernaut of oil and gas development in western Colorado.”

Law prevents work to clear pollution

November 28, 2007



November 27, 2007

In the mountains above the Keystone ski resort, a legacy of the past continues to pollute the future.

From the 1880s through the 1940s, the Pennsylvania Mine was one of Summit County’s most profitable. Today, all it produces is acidic and metal-laden drainage water that poisons creeks, kills fish and confounds local officials.

For nearly 15 years, the federal law meant to clean sources of water pollution such as the Pennsylvania Mine has actually prevented work to improve the water.

A 1993 court ruling said that, under the Clean Water Act, anyone who tries to remediate water at an abandoned mine becomes legally liable for discharges there forever. The ruling halted efforts by the state to clean drainage from the Pennsylvania Mine and ensured that little water cleanup was done at any of Colorado’s other 23,000 abandoned mines.

A decade of efforts to pass a socalled “good Samaritan” law, legal protection for groups and government agencies who want to clean up mines, has failed, mainly because of resistance from environmental groups. Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators backed such a measure last year.

“The Clean Water Act was written and designed to clean up problems like this, and it’s the only thing stopping us from doing it, and it’s so unfortunate,” said Elizabeth Russell, mine restoration coordinator for Trout Unlimited, which wants to be a good Samaritan at the Pennsylvania Mine.

A recent report on Colorado water quality pointed to abandoned mines as a major cause of heavy metal contamination in creeks running down from the high country. Most of the mining companies no longer exist, so there is nobody to hold responsible.

There are a host of nonprofit organizations, local governments and state agencies that would like to get involved in cleanup efforts, particularly in areas such as Summit County where dead, brown waterways like Peru Creek at the Pennsylvania Mine could be bad for tourism. But assuming the legal liability for all future discharges – in today’s litigious society – is a risk none will take.

While it may seem a good Samaritan law may be a nobrainer, like most issues of environmental law, it is not.

When Colorado’s U.S. senators, Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Ken Salazar, backed a bill in 2006 to remove parts of the law that discourage cleanup, it drew opposition from environmental groups.

The groups worried changes could allow mining companies to come back into the mines and renew operations and not be responsible for discharges. The opposition was enough to kill the legislation, and it looks unlikely any will advance in 2007.

It’s an issue dividing environmentalists.

Russell said she recognizes the concern other environmental groups have about weakening the law. But, she said, “We’re the only ones out there trying to do the darn cleanup.”

At the Pennsylvania Mine, the lack of legislation has forced cleanup advocates to get creative.

Plans are in the works to create a nonprofit organization, the Snake River Water Foundation, that will take over ownership of a water treatment facility outside the mine. The foundation will have little cash or assets, so it is hoped no one would bother to sue it under the Clean Water Act.

“Nobody’s going to sue them because they don’t have anything to be sued for. There’s no money,” Russell said.

Numerous groups, government agencies and ski resorts are involved in the effort, though not Denver Water, because there are no human health issues for Lake Dillon reservoir downstream of the mine, which serves the water supplier.

It’s not the ideal way of doing cleanups – it’s taken 15 years to reach this point, and plans for the treatment facility still haven’t been drawn up. It will cost from $500,000 to $1.5 million, Russell said.

But, for now, it’s the only way of cleaning up the polluted water rolling down from the mines of yesteryear.