Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Don't Suck
Cutthroat Trout
Shocking

New Website Coming Soon!

This website will undergo a major refresh around the beginning of July. We'll modernize the look and feel of the entire website with a completly new design, look and feel. There may be a few days when the site is either lacking some things you're acccustomed to or even completely unavailable.

Our goal is to make it friendlier, easier to use and more visually engaging. We promise not to lose our focus on protecting our rivers and local environment while making it easier to use and better looking.  

Jerry Nissen, webmaster   jerry@coheadwaters.org

PLEASE HELP US SAVE THE FRASER & UPPER COLORADO

Trout Unlimited is a national non-profit dedicated to protecting our cold water fisheries and environment. Our local chapter is located at the headwaters of the Colorado River, and works hard to protect the Colorado, Fraser and our other local rivers. 
                       
​The Colorado Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited welcomes your contributions. We are a 501(c)(3) corporation, so your contribution may qualify for a tax deduction. You can send us a check at:
Colorado Headwaters Chapter Trout Unlimited
PO Box 325
Fraser, CO 80442-325

Please note that this is a new mailing address for us and anything you may have stored is out of date!

You can also support us by becoming a member and attending our only annual fundraiser, our Banquet in July at Devil's Thumb Ranch. We also invite members to attend our monthly board meetings. They're usually held the second Wednesday of each month at the Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser. Start time is 6PM. We're an environmental organization, but beer and fishing stories normally happen at our meetings! Check the calendar for details or contact a board member for more info.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page!

You can also find us on Instagram by clicking here!

 

Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited

  The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is located in beautiful Grand County Colorado. We are north-west of Denver and on the west side of the Continental Divide. We're located just where you'd expect based on our name: at the headwaters of the Colorado River. That means we're  where the human population density is low and wildlife density (including fish) is high. Our moose count far exceeds our stoplight count.  Grand County is roughly the size of the state of Delaware with a population of around 14,000. The main communities here are Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs, Parshall and Kremmling. We are fortunate to fish the Colorado and its first tributaries near their source, and the fishing here is wonderful.

  The mighty Colorado River (originally called the Grand River, hence, Grand County, Grand Junction, Grand Canyon, etc.) begins its journey here in Rocky Mountain National Park. Soon after leaving Rocky Mountain National Park the Colorado enters Colorado's largest and most beautiful natural lake, Grand Lake. From Grand Lake, it makes its way through Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby. The first major tributary to the Colorado is the Fraser River, which joins the Colorado River near Granby. From Granby the Colorado heads through Hot Sulphur Springs, Byers Canyon and Kremmling before moving on towards Grand Junction and the Utah border on its way to the Pacific. 

  As fishermen (and women) we find innumerable spots to find solace and wet a fly along the Colorado and Fraser Rivers here in Grand County.

  As members of Trout Unlimited, we care about our rivers and work to preserve the aquatic habitat required for fish to thrive. Colorado water law was written when it was still legal to buy a slave. That outdated approach to water enabled entities on the opposite side of the continental divide to buy the rights to most of the water in Grand County and send that water under the Continental Divide to the Front Range. In Colorado, water doesn't flow downhill...it flows to money. 

  We don't have as much money or political clout as the Front Range so we know much of the water that was meant to be in rivers here will end up on Front Range lawns. Our TU chapter is dedicated to making the best of what's left. For example, we're working to turn the Fraser from a dying river to a healthy creek. Help us in our mission!

 

What We Do
Click on this link to see a summary of what our TU Chapter does.
Everyone on our board is a dedicated, talented volunteer who works hard to ensure the money you invest in us and your participation in our projects makes a real difference in our rivers and wider environment. 

It's still spring 2019 here in Colorado's high country, but we've already accomplished a lot in Grand County! Our first "on the ground and in the river" projects are already done! Here's what we've accomplished so far in 2019 thanks to our amazing volunteers:

  • On May 4 we harvested willows for our second year of planting along Ranch Creek near Devil's Thumb Ranch.
  • On May 7 we inventoried our results from our 2018 planting in the same area. We had a fabulous 73% survival rate.
  • On May 18 &19 we planted our recently harvested willows.

To see the photo gallery from the May 4 harvesting, click here. On May 7, we did a follow-up on our results from last year's planting. Our success rate was wonderful with an amazing 73% survival rate. The photo on the right was taken on May 19, 2019 and shows a healthy, sprouting willow only one year after planting.

To see photos from the May 19 planting day, click here. 

 

TU Banquet July 22

This is our only annual fundraiser. For all the details, including how to support us and get tickets, click here. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Banquet 2019
Our board does the majority of the work for our annual Banquet, but we can always use some help. Our Banquet is our only annual fundraiser, so it's critical to our ability to continue our mission to preserve and improve fishing and the environmnet here at the headwaters of the Colorado River. Do you have an item (or a service) you can donate for our auction? Perhaps a fly rod, a fishing trip or access to private water, a gift certificate for your restaurant or other business, a stay at a home or condo in an interesting place? Be creative and feel free to think outside the box. If you don't have something for our auction, perhaps you can help us with checkout or other aspects of the auction. Can't donate or volunteer? Please be sure to attend the Banquet on July 22 and bid on our auction items!
To provide something for our auction, click here. 
To volunteer some of your time at the auction on July 22, click here.

Willow Harvesting/Planting
Our willow harvesting and planting for 2019 is already complete, but we'll be doing it again in the spring of 2020. Check out the information here to get ready for 2020:   Learn willow harvesting/planting techniques and view the beautiful flyer for this event by clicking here.

To see an excellent five-minute video produced by Michael Turner of TV18, our local Grand County Outside Television affiliate, on one of our previous willow restoration events, click on this link. 

To Our 2019 Ranch Creek Restoration Volunteers: Thanks! Danke! Gracias! Merci! Grazie!

Board Meetings Open to All
Of course, everyone is always welcome at our monthly board meetings. We normally meet the second Wednesday of each month. Our next meeting is June 12 at Fontenot's in Winter Park. Yes, we're really meeting at Fontenot's! This meeting will be focused on Banquet planning.   Click here for our calendar of events. You'll need to contribute to the beer fund if you come to a meeting!

If you'd like to be an active participant in our chapter's activities, contact a board member from our list here.

Headwaters River Journey

The new Headwaters River Museum and Ecology Center has opened in Winter Park next to Hernando's. This is a first class museum with state of the art electronics and interative displays. TU members should consider becoming a volunteer at the Headwaters Center to help communicate our message about the health of our rivers, the impacts of diversions and how we can help maintain and improve our rivers. Exhibits will address the challenges facing the Fraser and upper Colorado directly and will have a clear message about the effects of trans mountain diversions on our rivers in Grand County. It is important to our TU chapter to have the  public better understand these issues and it will benefit our efforts to protect the Fraser and Colorado Rivers.  We also think you'll have fun and find it exciting to be associated with this very high tech museum.  Volunteer time will be extremely flexible and you will want to be associated with this center. For more information and to contact the Center about volunteering, follow this link.

News Flashes

June 26 Board Meeting at Fontenot's

Yes, we're really meeting at Fontenots on June 26 at 6PM. This is our major planning meeting preparing for the Banquet. 

Public Lands Day
On May 18, the new Headwaters Center in Winter Park hosted a casual Public Lands Day event. The Forest Service, BLM, Grand Huts, Grand County Water Information Network, Grand County Wilderness Group and other local outdoor-oriented groups including your local Trout Unlimited chapter had representatives talking about their mission and local outdoor opportunities. To the left, you'll find TU member Mike Mason and chapter president Kirk Klancke chatting with guests about TU's mission and local projects.

 

Willow Project 2019 Completed

Our spring 2019 willow harvesting, inventory and planting on Ranch Creek was completed May 19.  Once again, we harvested and planted willows along one of the most severely degraded streams in Grand County in an effort to rehabilitate the river and riparian environment. As part of the project, we did a stem-by-stem inventory of last year's plantings and were delighted to find a 73% survival rate from last year's planting. The hard work of all our volunteers is making a real difference in the recovery of our streams! To see all the photos from the 2019 willow project, click here.

TU Film Festival

On May 10, Middle Park High School in Granby was the site for our second TU Headwaters film Festival. This year's Festival was a benefit fundrauser for the local Middle School fly fishing club. We had a selection of short subjects, enjoyed by fishermen (and women) and our conservation-oriented friends. There films includied some Kirk Klancke described as "fish porn" meaning gratuitious shots of people catching giant fish. There was time for socializing, questions and fish stories. 

Next Board Meeting Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Everyone is welcome to join us for our regular monthly meeting! We usually meet the second Wednesday of the month. We meet at 6PM in the back room of the Crooked Creek Saloon in downtown Fraser.

Where The River Ends

Those who live in the west and care about water and our environment know the Colorado River is entirely used up before it reaches the sea. For a wonderful new series on the river's demise from Colorado Public Radio's Luke Runyon, click here.  

River Festival July 20

Dean Public House in Hot Sulphur Springs is holding a River Festival with five bands on Saturday July 20th and is donating a portion of the day's proceeds to Trout Unlimited! This is an easy, fun way to support our TU chapter! Visit their website by clicking here.

Annual TU Banquet Monday, July 22, 2019

Each summer, we hold our annual dinner/fundraiser at Devils Thumb Ranch. It's our chapter's only fundraising event, so it's critical we have great participation. Our 2019 Banquet will be on Monday, July 22, 2019. Social hour starts at 5:30PM. The banquet always sells out, so please sign up early so you won't be disappointed.

For sponsorship information, and other Banquet infornation, click here. We earn the money we use to protect our rivers through your sponsorship, auction donations and auction puirchases. Tickets are $75 and are available at Winter Park Optical in the Safeway Plaza in Fraser and from Board Members. Click here for a list of Board Members. 

September 22 Healthy Rivers Concert

Join us at the Headwaters Center in Winter Park for a concert celebrating our rivers. We're featuring The Rifters and local favorite Caitlyn Taussig as well as admission to the brand new Headwaters Center Museum. We'll open the doors at noon and music will go till about 5. If the weather doesn't cooperate, we will take the concert indoors!

Public Lands Changes Impacting Fishing And More Passed by US Senate February 13, 2019

In a surprisingly bipartisan event, the Senate passed a measure to add 1.3 million acres of public land in the west, create three national parks and expand others. In addition, all federal lands will be open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless otherwise specified. Read more here.

Colorado Headwaters Connectivity Project To Receive Funding 

February, 2019 Update
In a recent, wonderful development, funding has been appropriated for this project!A project is underway to reconnect portions of the Upper Colorado at the Windy Gap Reservoir and nearby areas. The Windy Gap Dam area of the Colorado and Fraser rivers in the vicinity have suffered over the years from the impacts of the dam, weirs and the Granby Diversion. The combined impact of the present structures has been to prevent the normal movement of fish and other aquatic life in the area. Another result has been the "armoring" of the river bed below Windy Gap Dam, resulting in what amounts to a dead zone below the dam.  

On August 15, 2018, a Public Scoping Open House for the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project was held in Granby. The meeting was well-publicized and open to everyone. About 15  interested people attended the informative meeting. Most attendees were stakeholders with a serious interest in the proposed process. At the meeting, they had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the proposed Windy Gap by-pass and other issues impacting connectivity on the upper Colorado River. TU strongly supports the proposed Windy Gap By-Pass and improvements to the Fraser River and is one of the sponsors of the project. Although there were questions and concerns expressed, everyone in the room seemed enthusiastic about the proposal. There was some concern about "the Devil being in the details" but the tone of the crowd was optimistic.

This was the first in a series of expected local meetings about the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project. If you were unable to be at the meeting, you can still express your thoughts. There will be future opportunities for comment as the plan evolves as well.

An in-depth article about the meeting, including a history of the Windy Gap project, was published in the August 24, 2018 Winter Park Times. To read the entire article,  click here for a link to the paper online.

For more information about the meeting, click here.

In a concerning development, a Front Range environmental group has come out against reconnecting this portion of the upper Colorado. They've announced a lawsuit intended to stop these proposed improvements to the health of the river. Their opinion appears to be that anything allowing diversion of water from the Colorado is unacceptable, even if that water is owned by an entity with a clearly established right to that water. Trout Unlimited (and everyone at the Scoping Meeting) knows that the some of the river's water is owned by the diverters and that water will be diverted. TU and most others believe that conversation with the entities who own the water will ultimately be better for the river than litigation we believe is doomed to fail. At TU, we'd love to have more water in our rivers but we acknowledge reality: A substantial portion of the water has been sold and will be diverted. Our goal is to work with the diverters, government entities, irrigators and other stakeholders to make the best of the real-world situation. Projects like this will quickly have a positive impact on the health of the river. Never-ending litigation won't help the river. We're disappointed that we need to work to save the Colorado from Save The Colorado and other non-local groups.

Interior Secretarary 

David Bernhardt is a former oil industry lobbyist and was the acting Secretary until his confirmation in April. He was nominated by President Trump to replace his scandal-plauged predecessor Ryan Zinke. Environmental groups nationwide are extremely concerned about having an oil industry executive in charge of protecting the environment.

Annual TU Banquet Monday, July 22, 2019

Each summer, we hold our only annual dinner/fundraiser at Devils Thumb Ranch. It's our chapter's only fundraising event, so it's critical we have great participation. Our 2018 Banquet will be on Monday, July 22, 2019. Social hour starts at 5:30PM. The banquet always sells out, so please sign up early so you won't be disappointed. Tickets are $75 and are available at Winter Park Optical in the Safeway Plaza in Fraser and from Board Members. Click here for a list of Board Members. 

Ski Seasons May Shorten by 50%       

The non-profit organization Water Education Colorado reports that ski seasons in parts of Colorado may shrink by half between now and 2050 due to climate change. Read more by clicking here.

Gross Reservoir Expansion: Conversation or Litigation?

December 19, 2018. Please read Jerd Smith's excellent article in the latest Water Education Colorado newsletter. It presents an excellent overview of the difficult negotiations surrounding the proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. Be sure to read to the end to see what Grand County manager Ed Moyer has to say. TU agrees with Moyer and supports the proposed reservoir expansion. We disagree with the well-intentioned but non-local environmental groups who lack our local insight and perspective. TU understands that real improvements to our rivers will result from compromising with Denver Water and that endless litigation will not result in improvements to our rivers. Read the full article by clicking here.

Where Can I Fish Map
Our TU Chapter is currently working on a detailed map of legitimate fishing access points here in Grand County. It will include both descriptions and GPS information to help you stay on legally accessible water and stay out of trouble. We expect to have the map on this website and in print at local fishing-related businesses by the spring orn early summer of 2019. We'll make the map available on this website, too.

Water Shortage Likely Fall of 2019, Snowpack Update, Gill Lice on Trout, 

The January 4, 2019 Winter Park Times published an article by meterologist Eric Holthaus on the bleak prospects for the Colorado, other western rivers, reservoirs and cities as the impacts of climate change begin to settle in. Despite our better than average snowpack in the spring of 2019, the big picture still is accurate.  Read the article by clicking here.  The same issue also featured articles on gill lice infesting local trout and the state's latest snowpack information. Click here for those links.

Climate Threat Greater Than Expected

The UN Climate Change Conference clearly stated that the rate of climate change is faster than anticipated. Listen to, or read the text, of an excellent and very informative fact-based interview on PBS. William Brangham interviewed David Victor, author of Global Warming Gridlock and professor of international relations at University of California, San Diego, on December 6, 2018. Click here for the link .

Highest Recent Big Thompson Diversion 
Northern Water's diversion year ending October 31, 2018 show the largest water diversion from Grand County via the Colorado Big Thompson project since 2012. About 225,000 acre feet of water was sent from Grand County to the Front Range. Northern's reservoir levels are close to average for this time of the year. These heavy water withdrawls contribute to low flows in our rivers and the declining levels in Lake Powell (see article below). To learn more, go to Northern's website by clicking here.

Low Flows Impact Lake Powell
With a rapidly growing population and years combining record-setting heat and drought, water flows in the Colorado are down dramatically. One of the results of that unfortunate combination is a huge drop in water levels in Lakes Powell and Mead. In an average year, Lake Powell receives 10.8 million acre feet of water from the Colorado. In 2018, it was a frighteningly low 4.62 million acre feet. To learn more, read Water Education Colorado's October 25, 2018 article from Nelson Harvey by clicking here. 

Kirk Klancke Interview on Public Radio October 3, 2018
The president of our local Trout Unlimited Chapter, Kirk Klancke, was interviewed for a feature story on Denver's Colorado Public Radio. Kirk and others discussed the importance of conservation in their voting decisions. You can read the text of the interview and see photos or listen to the audio by clicking here.

Colorado Headwaters Connectivity Project To Receive Funding 

February, 2019 Update
In a recent, wonderful development, funding has been appropriated for this project!A project is underway to reconnect portions of the Upper Colorado at the Windy Gap Reservoir and nearby areas. The Windy Gap Dam area of the Colorado and Fraser rivers in the vicinity have suffered over the years from the impacts of the dam, weirs and the Granby Diversion. The combined impact of the present structures has been to prevent the normal movement of fish and other aquatic life in the area. Another result has been the "armoring" of the river bed below Windy Gap Dam, resulting in what amounts to a dead zone below the dam.  

On August 15, 2018, a Public Scoping Open House for the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project was held in Granby. The meeting was well-publicized and open to everyone. About 15  interested people attended the informative meeting. Most attendees were stakeholders with a serious interest in the proposed process. At the meeting, they had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the proposed Windy Gap by-pass and other issues impacting connectivity on the upper Colorado River. TU strongly supports the proposed Windy Gap By-Pass and improvements to the Fraser River and is one of the sponsors of the project. Although there were questions and concerns expressed, everyone in the room seemed enthusiastic about the proposal. There was some concern about "the Devil being in the details" but the tone of the crowd was optimistic.

This was the first in a series of expected local meetings about the Colorado River Headwaters Connectivity Project. If you were unable to be at the meeting, you can still express your thoughts. There will be future opportunities for comment as the plan evolves as well.

An in-depth article about the meeting, including a history of the Windy Gap project, was published in the August 24, 2018 Winter Park Times. To read the entire article,  click here for a link to the paper online.

For more information about the meeting, click here.

In a concerning development, a Front Range environmental group has come out against reconnecting this portion of the upper Colorado. They've announced a lawsuit intended to stop these proposed improvements to the health of the river. Their opinion appears to be that anything allowing diversion of water from the Colorado is unacceptable, even if that water is owned by an entity with a clearly established right to that water. Trout Unlimited (and everyone at the Scoping Meeting) knows that the some of the river's water is owned by the diverters and that water will be diverted. TU and most others believe that conversation with the entities who own the water will ultimately be better for the river than litigation we believe is doomed to fail. At TU, we'd love to have more water in our rivers but we acknowledge reality: A substantial portion of the water has been sold and will be diverted. Our goal is to work with the diverters, government entities, irrigators and other stakeholders to make the best of the real-world situation. Projects like this will quickly have a positive impact on the health of the river. Never-ending litigation won't help the river. We're disappointed that we need to work to save the Colorado from Save The Colorado and other non-local groups.

Denver Post Article Discusses Water 
We have worked for years to get Denver Water's attention and now it looks like they are paying attention. Hot, dry conditions across the west during the summer of 2018 kept water in the focus of many states. Denver Water discusses their response in this article from late August.

To read the article, click here.

Colorado Water Bought By Investment Firm
If you think water's not going to continue to be an important issue in the west, think again. A New York City based company is buying up agricultural water rights in western Colorado for investment purposes. Learn more about it on the Water Education Colorado website by clicking here.

Water Diversion Study Concerns
Two West Slope water districts have split with Front Range water districts over the third phase of a risk study focused on bolstering water levels in Lake Powell. Some Western Slope participants have expressed their concern about Front Range water diverters interest in censoring results of science-based studies. Follow this link to Aspen Journalism's full article.

High Summer Water Temperatures Threaten Fish
Our anticipated 2019 runoff looks good thanks to a good snow year, but everyone knows the summer of 2018 was extremely hot and dry here in Colorado. That made it a killer summer for our fish. Literally...

Finally by late August daytime highs decreased and we had both a bit of rain and some releases of water. That combination helped to lower our stream temperatures a bit, but the fundamental reality remains that high water temps put trout at serious risk. Warm water holds less oxygen and trout have trouble getting enough oxygen in water over 65 degrees. They can suffocate when water temps get into the 70's. Playing, catching and releasing a fish in warm water is often a death sentence for that fish.

You all know the satisfaction and importance of "catch and release" fishing, but local summer water temperatures resulting from our changing climate have been so high that fishing after about 1 PM on most of our rivers has become "catch and kill". Record high air temperatures and low water flow levels combined with no release of water from reservoirs into our rivers by diverters have resulted in dangerously high summer water temperatures in our streams. 

As fishermen and women who must also be stewards or our environment.
Here is what we can do all summer long. Fish with a thermometer. If water temperatures are above 65 stop fishing or, at the very least, follow the suggestions to the right. Often, that means we shouldn't fish after 1 PM on most of our rivers and last summer the Department of Wildlife began posting notices to that effect.

Trout Unlimited is routinely in talks with water diverters and we hope to negotiate water releases whenever they are needed in the future. Our warming climate plays a role in stream temperatures, but in our area, the primary challenge is caused by water diversion. We're encouraging Denver and other diverters to implement watering restrictions and to begin releasing water into our rivers when its needed most. Denver Water is not obligated to make releases until they have all their permits, but releasing water at critical times would be good for our environment and would simply be a good public relations move for them.

Over half the water from our rivers in the Fraser Valley was diverted during one of the warmest and driest years on record. The result is a spike in water temperatures in our rivers. In this dangerous time for our rivers, TU is encouraging Denver to put manditory watering restrictions in place. During the summer of 2018, there were no restrictions on watering in Denver.  We're also encouraging Denver to release water into our rivers when it's especially important to our environment. We encourage you to ask Denver Water and other diverters about this.

Drought Plan For Grand County
Our Trout Unlimited Chapter wants to help us here in Grand County to set the example in being water-wiseWe want to be able to hold our area up as a shining example of responsible use. We'll be working with local town and county officials to create sensible, responsible recommendations and encourage smart water usage in our communities. 

Latest News And Action Requested

Dangerously High Summer Water Temperatures

During the summner of 2018, the Upper Colorado River suffered from both low water flows and extremely hot weather causing water temperatures as high as 71 degrees. As our climate changes rapidly, we hope the summer of 2019 will not bring a return of these conditions.  To help protect our fish, please do any fishing early in the morning and be kind to our fish! For more information from Jack Bombardier of Confluence Casting, click here. 

Fresh Water News 

Water Education Colorado is a science based group dedicated to informing the public about water issues in the west. Click here to see their issue of Fresh Water News detailing recent water issues. 

Tell the BLM to Support Habitat Improvement on the Blue River

Please let the BLM know you support the proposed land swap by Blue Valley Ranch. The land exchange would improve about a mile of habitat on the Blue River near Kremmling. Follow this link to see Kirk Klancke's letter to the BLM for more information and a starting point for creating your own letter.

Recent Reports on Rivers

Luke Runyon at KUNC Radio has become a wonderful reporter on all things in this region relating to the environment and our rivers in particular. You can read (or listen to) some of his recent reports at this link. A few of his recent topics on western water include a story on the impacts of climate change and the future of the Colorado Headwaters, the impact of beavers, the price of water within the Colorado Big Thompson Project, the Bureau of Reclamations role is stalled talks about the future of the Colorado River and more. 

New PBS Video Focuses on Water in Colorado's National Parks

Our nation's underappreciated Public Broadcasting System has recently created a series of new video features on Colorado's national parks. One of them focuses on water. To watch the entire 55 minute show, click here. It's informative, entertaining, beautifully produced, well photographed and a wonderful example of what our support of public TV helps create. ENJOY!

Fraser River Corridor Master Plan Proposals Will Impact Fishing

The town of Fraser is planning some enhancements to the stretch of the Fraser between Safeway and Rendezvous. Roughly 95% of the development will take place around the Lions Club Ponds near Safeway and have little impact on fishing other than improving handicap access to one fishing hole. Overall, fishing access will be enhanced, some small "social" trails will be closed for revegetation and there will be plantings in strategic areas to improve conditions in the river for trout. TU has been the key player in choosing areas for plantings and reshaping river access with fishing in mind, so we think you'll be very pleased.

The town of Fraser is soliciting public input and your ideas are still welcome. There have already been several meetings, at which TU was well represented. TU was represented at the morning Stakeholder meeting by president Kirk Klancke and board member Jerry Nissen. Jerry also attended the evening public meeting. Jerry's written a brief article about the proposals which appeared in the Friday, December 15 Winter Park Times. The physical papers are gone, but you can find it online from this link . We also have the PowerPoint presentation from THK Associates available. For more details, including maps and the Town's documentation, click here. 

Locals Fight To Save Our Rivers, National Groups Fight Locals

On November 14, local Trout Unlimited Chapter President Kirk Klancke sent a letter to Robert Kennedy Jr at the Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance has joined a  lawsuit intended to kill a project we here in Grand County have fought to get in place for years.  TU, Grand County and our local environmental community has worked to implement a project that will actually improve the Colorado River's health in Grand County. Several well-intentioned groups without local connections think they know better. As of February 21, the Waterkeepers Alliance and Robert Kennedy Jr. have not bothered to respond.  See Kirk's letter by following this link.

Grand Lake Clarity Concerns

Grand Lake, also known as "Spirit Lake" is facing serious water quality challenges. In October, 2017 a new report assessed the latest actions to protect the lake. We're concerned the report may not reflect a careful in-depth analysis of the true nature and seriousness of the problem. To see a brief introduction and the Power Point presentation from the report, click here. 

What to Do If You See a Spill

On October 5, local TU Board member (and your webmaster) Jerry Nissen, took this photo of the confluence of St Louis Creek and the Fraser at CR 8. I learned St Louis Creek was very brown due to road work on CR 73 resulting in some serious (but short-lived) runoff into the stream. Fortunately, within a few hours, the water had cleared. During September and October, 2016, several instances of dumping of effluent from the Moffat railroad tunnel near the Winter Park Resort were discovered. Some nasty, black liquid was flowing from a pipe into the Fraser River near the Winter Park Resort. Thankfully, it was spotted. Our local TU Chapter members checked it out and the appropriate authorities were notified. The railroad is working on a waste treatment facility, but TU has lingering concerns and will continue to monitor the situation.

Who to contact if you see a spill:  

Call the EPA's hotline at 800-424-8802 immediately if you see:

  • Any petroleum product in the water
  • Any releases to waterways
  • Any mercury spills
  • Any sanitary sewer releases
  • Any releases that result in injury and/or death
  • Any deliberate releases or dumping

TAKE PHOTOS OF ANYTHING NASTY YOU SEE!  Unfortunately, sticking your water bottle in the river to capture a sample doesn't really help. Samples must be in special containers and taken under specific conditions. Here in Grand County, our local contact for water quality is Katherine Morris. Katherine is our County's Water Quality Specialist. You can call her at 970-725-3058 or email her at  kmorris@co.grand.co.us  Katherine wants to know about funky, toxic water and disgusting stuff getting into our rivers. She's funny that way.

For more about the EPA and spill reports, follow this link to their website.

You can also call the CDPHE at 877 518 5608.

How to be an Ethical Angler: Catch and Release Practices

Local TU Chapter President Kirk Klancke just wrote an excellent article about the proper techniques for catch and release for the Ethical Angler. Kirk also talks about the importance of water temperature for trout. It's concise and well worh reading! To read the article, click here.

Cooperation Between Agriculture and TU: May 2017 Article in 5280 Magazine

Paul Bruchez is a young rancher near Kremmling, and by most expectations, not an ally of Trout Unlimited. Those expectations are very wrong. Paul received our Colorado Headwaters Chapter River Conservation Award at the 2016 TU Banquet. To find out why and to learn about improvements to the river as well as a bit of history, read the entire article in the May, 2017 issue of 5280 Magazine by clicking here.

Local TU on TV: Watch The Recording From March 11, 2017 

Local TU chapter president Kirk Klancke and board member Anna Drexler-Dreis (pictured here in the studio from behind the control panel) were featured in an interview on Grand County TV18 in the Good Morning Winter Park showThey talked about our upcoming willow cutting/planting event to begin restoration on a 0.9 mile segment of the Fraser River upstream from the Devil's Thumb turnoff of Highway 40 at CR 83.  We're excited that the Fraser Flats River Habitat Restoration Project will be our first "on the ground and in the river" restoration project! Kirk and Anna touched on other water-related topics as well. 

Kirk and Anna talked about the project and TU's efforts to help heal the river. The show aired for the first time at 7:30 AM on Saturday, March 11 and will be repeated several times over the next few weeks. You can now watch the video any time on any connected device from the Grand County TV18 Morning Show YouTube site by clicking here.

For details about our river restoration efforts or to volunteer to help harvest and plant willows along the Fraser on May 6, 20 or 21, scroll down to the "TU Spring Volunteer Form" just below here. You'll find an additional source of information about the process at  http://www.grandcountylearningbydoing.org/

"Conservation Starts With Conversation" March 8, 2017 News Article

The Wednesday, March 8 Sky Hi News featured an article by Kirk Klancke about why it is in the environment's best interest to cooperate with water diverters, our Learning By Doing process and the real progress we're making. Water issues are tough and often frustrating but good things are happening in our rivers because of our collective efforts. TU believes it's better to invest money in improving our rivers rather than spending it on lawyers to fight a battle we're almost sure to lose. To see the whole article, click here.

Why TU Believes in Compromise Radio Interview Recording

Face it. We'd all like to keep all of the water from our west slope rivers in our west slope rivers. Unfortunately, that's just not realistic. More people live on Colorado's Front Range than in the mountains so they have more clout than us "mountain folk." In addition, 100 years ago, forward looking Front Range interests were willing buyers of water and they found willing sellers for west slope water. As a result, most water that originates on the west slope is owned by Front Range interests.  

Recognizing that reality has become an integral part of TU's approach to water in the last few years. Some conservation groups want to litigate in an attempt to keep water that we no longer own here. We see that as a losing battle. That's just not the way our laws work. TU has chosen to accept reality and work with those who own the water to make the best of a bad situation. Rather than investing in lawyers, TU is investing in our rivers, and we're getting Denver Water and others to cooperate with us. To hear a thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of our position, listen to this broadcast. Listen to a Colorado Public Radio conversation discussing both sides of this issue by clicking here. Our own Kirk Klancke is part of the conversation.

For the Man or Woman With Everything!

Our brand new Platinum Level Sponsorship gives you great presents that are too late to put under the tree but you do receive the knowledge that you're helping to save the Fraser and Upper Colorado. Get the exclusive Save The Fraser Bug Bilz hat to hold your flies and the great long sleeve T-shirt you see here, our excellent aluminum water bottle and exclusive Platinum Sponsor bumper sticker. It's only $250 for the whole package! Stop in to Winter Park Optical in Fraser next to Safeway to pick up your sponsorship package today! Click here for more info.

County Commissioner Merrit Linke Video on Windy Gap

Grand County District 2 Commissioner Merrit Linke discussed the Windy Gap bypass proposal in a September 17, 2016 TV interview. Linke talked about the importance of the bypass to the river's health and even funding for the bypass. He also touched on the "big picture" of diversions, agricultural and municipal uses and even a bit of water law and history. The entire interview is available by clicking here.  

Killing the Colorado, the Truth Behind the Water Crisis in the West 

This series of articles curated by the non-profit journalism organization ProPublica is fascinating reading for anyone interested in water issues. It features articles on the issues surrounding water including dams, agriculture, how much water there really is, Las Vegas’ growth, an historical look at how we got to the dangerous position we find ourselves in today and much more. Visit the Killing the Colorado website by clicking here.

Protect Our Rivers Colorado License Plate

Show your support for our rivers and Trout Unlimited by investing $25 in your new Colorado auto license plate. Your new license plate features the phrase "PROTECT OUR RIVERS" on it so everyone will know where you stand. Click here for the details.

Why TU Supports MECP Agreement With Denver Water

Some feel that it will lead to more problems for the Fraser and upper Colorado. TU recognizes the Denver Water owns more water in Grand County than they are currently taking. We wish that weren't the case. We'd rather see more water stay here, but the current reality is that under the law Denver can take more water than they currently do. The MECP agreement is intended to deal with that reality and make the best of a bad situation. For the past eighty years, Denver has been diverting water from the Fraser with no accountability for the health of the river. If this project dies, we're convinced that the next eighty years will look like the last eighty. If MECP moves ahead, the diversion permit is tied to adaptive management. TU believes adaptive management builds in the accountability that will enable us to ensure the ongoing health of the Fraser. ​One critical component of our agreement with Denver Water is Learning By Doing. According to our Trout Unlimited representatives at these meetings (Kirk Klancke and Mely Whiting) the first few meetings have been productive and promising. The first step to protect and improve our streams is stream monitoring. At TU, we believe a science and fact based analysis of the challenges our rivers face is the first step to developing an effective plan of action. Learn what should be done, make a plan and only then implement the plan!

Learning By Doing Protects Our Rivers

One of the most important components of our cooperative agreement with Denver Water and Grand County is Learning By Doing. Fundamentally, Learning By Doing relies on careful observation and information gathering as the first step. The information is then analyzed and solutions are proposed to address problems in our rivers. The suggested steps to mitigate the problems are implemented and observation continues. How well did the mitigation work? Do we think we could do better? What can be done differently to improve the results? Let's try another approach instead or in addition to what we've already done because we think it will be better for the rivers. 

Trout Unlimited is an important player in the Learning By Doing process and much of our current fundraising is devoted to funding continued participation in the process by TU's excellent attorney, Mely Whiting. For the latest updates, click he

For more water-related news, go to our News page by clicking here.

Best Article Yet on Threats to the Colorado

  If you only have time to read one article about the plight of our namesake river, click here. To learn much more, go to both our News and Conservation & Science pages on this web site.CTU Action Page  Colorado TU maintains a great list of current issues and events. Here's a link to the Colorado TUAction page.

Older News Still Available  Our Home page was getting too crowded with important news, so some of our older (but still relevant) news has been moved to a new "Archived News" page under the News tab on this web site. Click here to go directly to that page.

 

President's Letter 7/23/2018

CATCH AND RELEASE CAN MEAN CATCH AND KILL

The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited applauds Colorado Parks and Wildlife for taking a stance on high stream temperatures that stress and can kill trout. We are experiencing one of the hottest, driest years in decades and with that we are experiencing stream temperatures that are too hot for the survival of trout. 

Trout are a cold water fish because cold water holds more dissolved oxygen which trout require. At stream temperature above 65 degrees F, enough dissolved oxygen can escape into the atmosphere to stress trout. At temperatures of 74 degrees F. trout can die. On the Fraser River the afternoon stream temperatures are reaching 74 degrees F and on tributaries to the Fraser River, afternoon stream temperatures are reaching 72.5. By 1:00 pm stream temperatures have warmed up to 65 degrees F or greater and both Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Headwaters Chapter of TU recommend that fly fishers quit fishing. Above 65 degrees F trout are stressed. Even a savvy catch and release fly fisher can  easily kill a trout whose oxygen consumption soars when caught. 

The Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is asking all catch and release fishers to fish with a thermometer and stop fishing when stream temperatures reach 65 degrees F. If you don’t own a thermometer, you can purchase one at a local fly shop. Until you can obtain a thermometer you should use the 1:00 pm “Stop Fishing” recommendation from CPW. Based on recent stream temperature trends, our streams are reaching temperatures that stress trout on a daily basis by 1:00 pm. From 1:00 pm through the evening stream temperatures will remain high enough to stress trout. Give the fish a break. Fish streams in the morning and move to lakes in the afternoon.

The long term future of Grand County’s trout fishery depends on how we take care of our trout in drought years like the one that we are experiencing this summer. Treat the trout well and they will be around to enjoy and to create a healthy fishing economy for years to come. To learn more, go the the Headwaters Chapter website at www.coheadwaters.org.

   Kirk Klancke, President, Colorado river Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Save The Fraser River

  The Fraser River was recently named as the third most endangered river in the US. To find out why, and what you can do about it, keep reading.
  The local town of Fraser was known as the Western Whitehouse during the Eisenhower administration because Ike spent so much of his free time here fishing the Fraser and other local rivers. Today, the Fraser River still offers excellent fishing despite the diversion of the majority of its water. The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is one of the leaders in the effort to protect the Fraser, the headwaters of the Colorado and the associated cold-water fisheries in a difficult situation. 
  Our members are dedicated to protecting this amazing fishery and environment to the best of our ability. We understand that previous generations of western Colorado residents sold the rights to a substantial portion of the water that originates here to communities on the Front Range of Colorado, and that has consequences for our rivers today. We realize that much of the water which historically flowed through the Colorado to the Gulf of California and the Pacific will continue to be diverted across the Continental Divide to Front Range cities and will ultimately find its way to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. While we would like to see as little water diversion as possible, our efforts are focused on minimizing the effects of that inevitable water diversion on the natural environment. 
  By careful stewardship of our environment and through tireless education, we will do our best to maintain a healthy riparian environment here in Grand County.This website exists, in large part, to facilitate education about the science and the practical aspects of the challenges faced by our rivers and environment. You'll find links to a great deal of information and some suggestions as to concrete steps all of us can take to ensure the long-term health of our rivers and  environment.
  For a link to the Save The Fraser page on this web site, click here.

Contact Information

Colorado River Headwaters Chapter
Trout Unlimited
PO Box 325
Fraser, CO 80442-0325

Trout Unlimited Mission Statement

  The Colorado Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited mission is to conserve, protect, and restore the Upper Colorado River and its tributaries for present and future generations.