Indian Mountain man wins fishing contest

June 21, 2010
The Flume
By Danny Ramey

The fishing competition was one of a trio of events honoring the late Charlie Meyers, who wrote an outdoors column for The Denver Post for many years.

Earlier in the day, the Colorado Division of Wildlife held a dedication for the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area.

The Charlie Meyers Wildlife Area is a 640-acre portion of the Spinney Mountain Wildlife Area that encompasses the “Dream Stream” segment of the South Platte River, said Jennifer Churchill, the Colorado Division of Wildlife public information officer for the northeast region.

“It was a favorite stream of his,” said Churchill.

Meyers was also active in getting the “Dream Stream” opened up for public access and in fighting for regulations to preserve the quality of fishing there.

Around 100 people attended the dedication, said Churchill.

Colorado Trout Unlimited rounded out the day with a night of barbecue and storytelling at the American Safari Ranch near Fairplay.

Around 60 people attended the evening portion of the event, said Erica Stock, outreach director for Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Lessons learned from innocent fishing tourney

October 14, 2008

The Coloradoan

The Denver chapter of Trout Unlimited, a group committed to “conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds,” held its second annual Pro-Am Carp Slam. The event took place on the South Platte River from Evans Avenue in Denver north to Thornton.

Thirteen teams consisting of one professional and one amateur fished two “beats” each, one section in the morning and a different section in the afternoon.

Inner City Outings now has Boulder County focus

August 8, 2008

Kelsey Wilkinson, For the Camera
August 6, 2008

One event that the Boulder Inner City Outings program has created, with help from a grant, shows children how to do water sampling along Goose Creek. Trout Unlimited sponsors fly-fishing afterward.

The itinerary is now copied nationally after it became one of the most popular outings in the Boulder program.

The group also offers a one-hour, monthly class after school that teaches skills such as using maps, navigating with a compass, weather forecasting and basic leadership skills.

Spills on Roan Plateau highlight need to safeguard important fish and game habitat

March 8, 2008

Impacts of 1.2 million gallons of drilling mud in stream drainage not yet known

 RIFLE—Accidental spills of at least 1.2 million gallons of industrial drilling mud into Garden Gulch and eventually West Parachute Creek on the Roan Plateau demonstrate the importance of protecting the Roan’s sensitive watersheds containing native Colorado River cutthroat trout from future industrial drilling, according to Sportsmen for the Roan Plateau, a coalition of hunters, anglers and sporting organizations from all over Colorado.

“Accidents unfortunately happen, and we’re lucky this spill didn’t occur in a more sensitive drainage that contains important populations of native cutthroat trout,” said Corey Fisher, a field coordinator for Trout Unlimited and a member of the coalition. “This just makes it all the more important to carefully approach the development of the Roan, particularly those portions that contain irreplaceable habitat for fish and wildlife and, by extension, hunters and anglers. What’s more, it highlights weaknesses within existing federal energy regulations that need to be shored up, and shored up quickly.”

Fisher referenced existing laws that exempt the energy industry from stormwater runoff regulations within the federal Clean Water Act. Had industry not been exempt, it’s possible more care would have been taken with the fluids on the sites of the spills, and they would not have been allowed to enter the stream drainage.

In total, four separate spills occurred on private land on the western portion of the Roan Plateau. While drilling is occurring within the Roan Plateau Planning Area, there is no drilling where genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout live in Trapper Creek, Northwater Creek and the East Fork of Parachute Creek, all of which eventually end up in the Colorado River. However, the Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to lease and drill the planning area, and its own documents predict an acute impact on those native fish populations. The planning area is also home to trophy deer and elk herds, as well as healthy populations of ruffed grouse, blue grouse and huntable populations of black bear and mountain lion.

“These large spills should completely dispel any notion that natural gas drilling can be done in sensitive wildlife habitat without the risk of an accident that causes drastic harm,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “If an area of the Roan Plateau rim has to be drilled at all, it should be limited to an area where a spill would present the least amount of risk to wildlife, such as Corral Ridge outside of cutthroat trout watersheds.”

The spills were announced by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Thursday—two were reported to the commission, and two were not. The spills took place between November 2007 and February 2008. Apparently, the largest spill of about 30,000 barrels of drilling mud—or 1.2 million gallons—occurred in Garden Gulch, a tributary to the West Fork of Parachute Creek. According to the commission, some of the spilled mud is still frozen in a waterfall.

“Drilling mud is really more of a mixture of water or oils and certain other contents, like bentonite or barite, as well as other unknown chemicals,” said John Trammell, a geologist by trade and a member of Grand Valley Anglers in Grand Junction. His organization has put thousands of volunteer hours and invested thousands of dollars into a project on Trapper Creek to protect the stream’s headwaters, which provide critical spawning and rearing habitat for native trout. “Barite gives the ‘mud’ weight, and bentonite is expandable clay that fills in fissures and seals formations. The other ingredients area usually proprietary and depend on the energy company.”

Of particular interest to sportsmen, Trammell said, is the bentonite, which, when released in large amounts, can coat the bottom of a trout stream, smothering spawning gravels and kill off insects on which trout feed. The other ingredients in the concoction, while unknown, “are certainly not things you want in a trout stream.”

Efforts by sportsmen continue, not only to protect the Roan, but to reform federal energy regulations that allow the industry to skirt stormwater runoff rules that apply to other industrial operations.

“We need better energy legislation from Congress,” Fisher said. “We can develop our oil and gas resources responsibly, but the industry needs to be held accountable to elementary clean water and clean air laws. After all, water flows downhill, and while fish and game are the immediate victims of accidents like this, people will eventually be affected, too.”

Additionally, according to David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, the spills should demonstrate the need to move forward with an ongoing rulemaking effort that would govern how the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reviews energy drilling within Colorado.

“The pace and scale of development now being experienced, and the increased movement into areas of higher environmental significance, makes it vital that Colorado take a hard look at the rules and update them to ensure public health, fish and wildlife, and other key values are protected,” he said.

Trout Unlimited to Consider Southern Delivery System at March Meeting

March 7, 2008

The potential recreational and environmental effects of the planned Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs will be the topic under discussion at the March 13 meeting of Trout Unlimited in Pueblo. Drew Peternell, Colorado Trout Unlimited’s lawyer and the Director of the Colorado Water Project, will address concerns about the pipeline as it is currently presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. See Southern Delivery System EIS.  This is an important meeting to the future of recreation on the AK River through Pueblo! Please attend, if at all possible!

 THURSDAY, March 13, 7:00 p.m.

 Jones-Healy Realty, 119 W. 6th, Pueblo

 Everyone welcome – FREE to the public.
Donate a raffle item to defray chapter expenses

Carbondale man named to new state forest panel

February 13, 2008

Staff Report
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

February 13, 2008

CARBONDALE — Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter named Ken Neubecker, a Carbondale resident and vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited, to a newly created state group called the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council.

The multi-agency group will help “coordinate and lead efforts to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic” and other threats to forest lands in Colorado, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“Colorado’s forests are vital to our environment, to our communities, to our economy and to our overall quality of life,” Ritter said in a prepared statement. “But our forests are at risk, and one of the biggest risks is the mountain pine beetle. This epidemic has decimated more than 1.5 million acres of mature lodge-pole pines over the past decade and could wipe them out in another three to five years.”

The council will develop a short-term action plan and will address many issues, including the implementation of priorities identified in community wildfire protection plans, methods to encourage establishment of forest improvement districts, and implementation of landscape-scale stewardship projects. The council will also establish long-term strategies for sustainable forest health that will address a “state-wide vision to protect communities from fire and restore forest health,” according to the governor’s statement.

The council will report back to the governor and the legislature annually. If recommendations require legislative action, those recommendations will be submitted by Oct. 1 prior to the January start of the legislative session, according to the statement.

Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, will co-chair the council.

Roan a rare treasure

December 20, 2007

Denver Post guest commentary

Sharon Lance

A Denver Post editorial earlier this month on the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to lease and drill on the Roan Plateau missed the mark — perhaps most egregiously by claiming off-site development like that proposed by U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar might actually be detrimental to the Roan’s wildlife.

The editorial states that “horizontal drilling operations could actually increase the risk of harm to the wildlife that use the base of the plateau for their winter range.” Folks, that ship has sailed. Much of the Roan’s “winter range” is already being drilled and is a network of industrial-grade roads pocked by graded well pads and frequented daily by 18-wheeled trucks that transport materials and manpower to any number of rigs and working wells.

Further destroying deer and elk habitat is not what the Salazar-Udall provision is about. Public lands in the Roan Plateau Planning Area cover 67,000 acres, just 1.5 percent of the entire Piceance Basin. The only habitat left to protect on the Roan is that small percentage of undisturbed backcountry on top of the plateau and the remaining deer and elk winter range at the base that sportsmen have identified as priceless. No gradual development plans put forth by the BLM — even those that require reclamation — would spare this important island in a sea of oil and gas development from the drill bit.

The Salazar-Udall provision would have protected habitat, not sacrificed it. What is needed is a moratorium on further leasing until a plan is in place that allows for continued, responsible development on the half of the Roan that is leased or owned by industry, while keeping the other half as it is today for tomorrow’s sportsmen.

Worries that Colorado’s treasury won’t get the most out of the Roan if industry can’t access all of the plateau’s buried gas are unfounded and quite honestly disingenuous. Much of the Roan’s gas could be accessed using directional drilling from land outside the planning area and from those lands that have already been trashed. The Salazar-Udall provision would have allowed for this. The long- term harm to local economies by sacrificing the entire plateau to drilling will far outweigh the initial windfall Colorado would see in gas royalties.

Communities like Rifle, Parachute and Meeker understand the long-term economic benefit of keeping at least some of northwestern Colorado’s fish and game habitat intact.

A 2006 study commissioned by the 2005 Energy Policy Act found that 90 percent of the public, BLM-managed land in the basin is already available for leasing. The notion that keeping drilling rigs, industrial-grade roads and razed well pads off of one tiny section of a huge natural gas field would hamstring the energy industry and the state’s treasury is simply laughable, and The Post’s editorial board should have checked its facts.

Drilling the top of the Roan would be an irrevocable mistake — one that would forever sacrifice trophy elk and deer habitat and hunting opportunity, and two genetically pure populations of rare Colorado River cutthroat trout that are of keen value to adventurous anglers.

What remains of the Roan is simply too valuable to sacrifice for short-term profit.

Sharon Lance ( is past president of the Colorado Council of Trout Unlimited and member of the board of trustees.