Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Don't Suck
Cutthroat Trout


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Please note that this is a new mailing address for us and anything you may have stored is out of date!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

Fraser Rainbow by Brad Johnson

Thanks to TU Board member Brad Johnson for the excellent photo to the right!


Volunteer Opportunities

It's winter, so less than usual is going on in terms of volunteer opportunities in our local TU Chapter. We're still fishing and tying flies, but don't have any of our "on the ground and in the river" proects currently in progress.

In the spring of 2019, we're planning another willow harvesting and planting project along Ranch Creek near Tabernash. The dates are Saturday, May 4, 2019 for harvesting followed by May 18 and 19 for planting. Stay tuned for details and sign-up information. To see an excellent five-minute video produced by Michael Turner of our local Grand County Outside Telivision affiliate on one of our previous willow restoration events, click on this link.

Of course, everyone is always welcome at our monthly board meetings. We normally meet the second Wednesday of each month at Fraser's Crooked Creek Saloon at 6 PM in the back room. 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.

To Our 2018 Ranch Creek Restoration Volunteers: Thanks! Danke! Gracias! Merci! Grazie!
Many thanks to all our volunteers at our May and early June 2018 willow harvesting and planting event!

In 2017 we had our first major on-the-ground-and-in-the-river event on the Fraser River upstream from the Sunset Ridge ponds near Tabernash. In 2018, we kept the momentum going with a similar event repeated on the nearby Black Property on Ranch Creek. Once again, we harvested willow stakes in May and planted them in early June. See above for our 2019 plan. Your generous support with your time and effort will make a difference to the streams and habitat here in Grand County. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Click here for all the details of our spring 2018 river restoration event on Ranch Creek.


News Flashes

Next Board Meeting Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Everyone is welcome to join us for our regular February 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.

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.

Interior Secretary Nominee February 13, 2019

David Bernhardt is a former oil industry lobbyist and currently the acting Secretary. He has been nominated by President Trump to replace his scandal-plauged predecessor Ryan Zinke. 

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 of 2019.

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 slightly better than average snowpack in the month since then, 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 
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, Save The Colorado 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.

Banquet 2018 Results & Photos 
The July 23, 2018 TU Banquet was a great success, thanks to YOU! Our once a year fundraising, educational and social event was a big hit! Photos are available by clicking here.  All photos are available for free download. If you have additional photos you'd like to share, send them to your webmaster by clicking here.

At the Banquet, we raised a substantial amount of money to continue our efforts to save the Fraser, Upper Colorado, support science-based environmental decisions and help fight to preserve our cold water fishery and environment. The Board of the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited expresses our sincere thanks to everyone who attended the Banquet, donated auction items or helped us in any way! You play a critical role in our success! 

High Summer Water Temperatures Threaten Fish
Ski season is now here, 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. 

President's Letter 7/23/2018


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

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

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, the summer of 2019 is likely to 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!

Thank You for Helping Protect Conservation Easements!!

Thanks to your action in contacting state legislators, all three of the bills proposed to cripple environmental easements failed. Three anti-environmental state legislators proposed bills that our state of Colorado representatives were required to vote on. The three measures would have gutted Colorado's very successful land trust and conservation easement program. Passage of these measures would have damaged our environment for the forseeable future and cost many locals who are trying to protect our rivers and lands thousands of dollars. Many thanks to all of you who contacted people on the committee and encouraged them to kill the bills! Special thanks are due to Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke for testifying before the committee in opposition to the bills.

You're encouraged to keep an eye on future anti-environment proposals from the primary sponsors of the three bills: state representative, Kimmi Lewis, and two state senators, Jerry Sonnenberg and Vicki Marble. All three are known for their anti-environmental leanings. 

February 14, 2018 Legal Action Protects Fraser River

The rivers in Grand and Boulder Counties received a Valentine’s Day present in the form of an action from the government against Union Pacific Railroad. The Railroad was apparently in violation of its permit to discharge water into the Fraser River and South Boulder Creek. 

Here's a link to the whole multi-page document. Pay special attention to items 52, 55, and 56 in the required corrective actions section. The current plant was designed to treat the metals and TSS associated with normal, day to day activities, and not the tunnel maintenance activities that result in black water being discharged. At the time the state required compliance with discharge levels that resulted in the plant being built, the state was unawre there would be discharges associated with tunnel maintenance, so these weren’t in the permit. The new permit draft has a mechanism for addressing this now. Grand County is continuing to work on this issue, along with the release of organics (including carcinogens) that flow into the rivers during tunnel maintenance.

For links to the Grand County Commissioners discussion of this issue, click here. Keep checking our website for more information. For links to other commissioner meetings, click here. 

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  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.

2017 TU Banquet Recap

 In addition to the education, conversation and fabulous auction one of the evening's highlights was an excellent video produced by Michael Turner of Grand County TV18. To see the 5 minute video, click here.

Willows growing on the FraserThe photo on the left is from July 11, 2017 and shows that the willows we planted are growing! The leafy sticks you see in the foreground show that all your hard work is paying off. They've survived the spring runoff and are leafing out nicely. YAHOO!!! Our hard work is already bringing positive results and we couldn't be happier. Our first effort to restore the Fraser is working. Thanks to Scott Linn for the photo.

To see photos from all three days of the event, click here.

We  express our sincere thanks to these local businesses and individuals for helping make the event such a success:
   *Devil's Thumb Ranch and the Winter Park Flyfisher for providing waders for our volunteers to use.
   *Mike Turner for filming video including drone footage. The video will continue to air on Grand County TV18 on Comcast, and can be viewed any time from this link
   *O'Dell Brewing for providing their wonderful beer to our volunteers after each day's work was done on May 20 and 21.
   *Jerry Nissen for the still photos.
   * Very special thanks to TU Board Member Anna Drexler-Dreis for organizing this multi-day river restoration event!


After years of fundraising, negotiation, planning and preparation, we’ve actually done some work on the ground and in the water. Our original plan was to gather willows on Earth Day in April, but we pushed the date back to May 6 due to our snowpack. To see photos from all three days of our river restoration project, click here.

Thanks to the help of all our wonderful volunteers, our TU chapter has revegetated a portion of the Fraser River in the area commonly known as the Fraser Flats. Our team of 150 amazing volunteers harvested and trimmed 4,000 willow cuttings on May 6. They spent two weeks happily sprouting (the cuttings, not the volunteers) and were Fraser Flats Volunteers May 6, 2017planted on May 20 and 21. The area in which they'll be planted was originally "improved" by channel straightening (to make the logs flow downstream faster) and cattle grazing around 100 years ago. Today, we're working to recreate a more natural, fish-friendly, ecologically-sound, sustainable riparian environment. 

Once established, the willows will improve shading to decrease stream temperatures (making the water more fish-friendly), reduce erosion and help begin to restore the riparian zone. We’ll help return these areas closer to their original pre-grazing/log transportation condition.

 We are incredibly excited about our first project that actually improves our rivers here in Grand County! We're delighted to be moving from the "creating awareness/activist" phase to the actual "making good things happen" phase!

For more about the project, go to the Fraser Flats Project page on this website by clicking here.

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.

Water, our lifeblood: Then and now

Local TU Board member, Kent Hughes described this article in the June 2 premier issue of the as the best article he's seen on water in Grand County. Click here for the link.

TU Contacted State Senators About Supporting Fish And Wildlife. The Senate Said "No".

Colorado Trout Unlimited recently sent an email encouraging all TU members to contact our state senators. At issue was a proposal for a modest increase in the cost of hunting and fishing licenses  in HB 17-1321. The bill was designed to help increase funding for fish and wildlife habitat protection and enhancements. Unfortunately, our state senators chose not to increase funding for wildlife habitat. The vote was on party lines with Democrats voting as TU suggested to increase funding for wildlife habit via license increases and Republicans voting against it.To learn more about the bill and how to contact your senator, 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 and a bit of history, read the entire article in the May, 2017 issue of 5280 Magazine by clicking here.

Learning By Doing Report Released, April 24, 2017

The 2016 Learning By Doing Report was released in late Arpil of 2017. It's 17 pages long and packed with lots of great information. What's happening with funding? Are any projects to actually change things on the ground and in our rivers in progress? Have any stream flows actually improved? Have water temperatures been reduced anywhere? Is Denver Water actually helping our rivers? Learn the answers to these questions and more by clicking here to view the entire pdf document. 

New Yorker Readers Learn The Colorado Is In Trouble

An April 2 article in the New Yorker magazine gave a concise summary of the numerous demands on the Colorado River and its tributaries. David Owen's excellent article, Where The Water Goes, highlights some of the demands on the nation's hardest working river, the Colorado. Read the article by clicking here and look for his upcoming book of the same titleFor more about David Owen and his other books on environmentally-friendly topics, go to his website 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

"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.

Colorado TU Wants You to Contact Your Senator, February 8, 2017

Trout Unlimited and our partners in the hunting and fishing community have supported Planning 2.0 but this common-sense proposal is under threat of being repealed by Congress using the Congressional Review Act. Corey Fisher, TU's Public Land Policy Director, asks you to take a few minutes to contact your Senator and urge them to oppose efforts to do away with Planning 2.0 and ensure that the public has a voice in public land management. For more information, click here to go to another page on this website.

Colorado River Restoration Project Funding Update December 21, 2016

This is an amazing Christmas present to fishermen and women as well as our environment! $7.75 million in funding by the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Services has been awarded to help address the impacts of trans-mountain diversions on the upper Colorado River. The money will be used to improve fishing, help address water quality issues and improve irrigation on the upper Colorado. Important elements of the improvements include the Windy Gap bypass, river enhancements and irrigation improvements near Kremmling. TU is the lead partner on the grant application, and your support of TU enables us to have this sort of impact.

This funding will help us make great progress on the upper Colorado, but it is very important to know that there is NO FUNDING FOR THE FRASER RIVER included in this grant! Our local TU chapter's Save The Fraser message remains as urgent as ever! We must continue to fight to Save the Fraser!

Your contributions to TU are leveraged to produce results like this. Please support TU financially so we can continue to have more successes that help protect and enhance our rivers! Take advantage of the gift suggestion below or click on the Donate button near the top of this page to help us continue to fight for our rivers and larger environment.

There's much more to learn about this very positive event. For more details, click here.  You'll learn how the money will be invested to protect and improve our environment and more.

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.

Meadow Creek Reservoir

 The U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District sought public input on a project proposal currently in development. The Forest Service is looking to enhance recreation around Meadow Creek Reservoir as well as improve watershed and stream conditions in the area. Meadow Creek Reservoir is located about 5 miles east of Tabernash in the Arapaho National Recreation Area. This project aims to provide quality recreation opportunities, improve sanitation and develop a sustainable transportation system that considers recreation access, resource concerns and funding availability. The Forest Service asked for public input on this project prior to developing its proposed action. “We really want to hear the public’s ideas early in the process,” said project leader Kelly Larkin. “This will help us tailor our proposed action to something that the public can support.”

The Forest Service meeting was held on December 15, 2016. If you were unable to make the meeting or have further questions, contact Kelly Larkin at or 970-887-4146.


Local TU Board Member Highlighted In TU Magazine

One of our own has hit the big time! Our local TU board member Kent Hughes has been profiled in the Colorado TU Magazine's Behind The Fin feature. Kent is a long-time local and very active in TU and other non-profits in our community. Check out the article in the state TU magazine by clicking here.

Ballot Issue 1A Passed in November 2016. Here's Why TU Supported it.

For many years, landowners, conservation groups, and trails advocates in Grand County (including TU) have worked to protect the headwaters of the Colorado River and its tributaries. No public funding has been involved, and we're happy that will finally change.  To see a 30-second video produced by TV18, click here.    For all the details, click here.  

Fraser River Cleanup Fall 2016

On Saturday, October 15, a group of local Trout Unlimited volunteers showed up at the Lions Pavilion near Safeway with waders, rubber gloves and trash bags. They spent the next few hours scouring the Fraser River from CR 804 to Rendezvous for trash and litter. They came up with quite a haul including foam mattress toppers, milk crates, plastic chairs, beer cans, insulation, T-posts  and lots of plastic and general litter. This is an incredibly popular, high-traffic, wildly visible zone that represents the local riparian environment to more of the public than any other area in the entire county.  Thanks to Charlie and Ann Garcia, Scott Linn, Rich Newton, Kirk and Darlene Klancke, Katherine Morris and Jerry Nissen for helping with the cleanup. The river looks much better!  Photo by Charlie Garcia.

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.  

Kirk Klancke Talks Water on TV 

At 7:30 AM on Saturday, July 16, TU president Kirk Klancke made a guest appearance on the local Grand County TV18's Morning Show, Good Morning Winter Park. He talked about the health of our rivers, water diversions, and our changing relationship with Denver Water. The segment is available to view on the Grand County Television website by clicking on the Good Morning Winter Park logo on the upper right portion of the Home page. 

July 3, 2016 Kids Fishing Derby

Every year on the Sunday of the 4th of July weekend, the Fraser River Valley Lions Club puts on a wonderful family event. The Kids Fishing Derby gives kids a chance to catch fish, win prizes and enjoy some fun family time outdoors at the Lions Ponds near Safeway in Fraser. The Lions Club stocks and maintains the  ponds and puts on this free, fun event. Because there is a lot of overlap between Lions Club and Trout Unlimited membership, TU helps with the event. Thanks to TU members Alan Somerfeld, Kent Hughes, Jancie Hughes, Kirk Klancke and Jerry Nissen for working the event! To see all of Jerry's photos from the event, click 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.

June 2016 Colorado Water Quality Control Commission Meeting Comments

The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the possibility of relaxing temperature limits on many of our streams in the fall. If you fish, you know how challenging those high temperatures can be for our fish, particularly brown trout which spawn in the fall. Local TU board member and former Wildlife Commission member Dennis Buechler made an excellent, brief presentation before the commission. Read the text of his remarks by clicking here.

TU & Lions Club Volunteers Help Veterans June 11, 2016 in Fraser

On Saturday morning, June 11, 2016 The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of TU and the Fraser River Valley Lions Club joined forces to help veterans and their families through Project Sanctuary at the Lions fisning ponds near Safeway in Fraser. The vet support group Project Sanctuary was started in Colorado in 2007 and is dedicated to helping council military families by holding "family retreats".  Annually they  have a series of 26 separate retreats split between Winding River Ranch and YMCA of the Rockies.  Each retreat is scheduled for six days and is attended by eight to ten families.  On Saturday June 11, TU and Lions volunteers connected with Project Sanctuary participants who are enjoying a week long retreat at the YMCA of the Rockies. Lions Club (which stocks the ponds with trout) and TU volunteers helped the families net, bait, cast, and untangle lines.  To see more photos from this fun event, click here.

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 here. 

Colorado Headwaters Land Trust

On July 10, 2016 our friends at the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust (CHLT) held their annual fundraiser. The event was a great success at fundraising, but also at educating. An important part of the education was provided by this brief video produced by Michael Turner of TV18. To learn more about CHLT, visit their web site by clicking here. 

Local TU Meetings are Open to All

Our local Colorado River Headwaters Chapter board meets (with rare exceptions) the second Wednesday of each month in the back room of the Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser. Meetings start at 6PM and everyone is welcome. We work on the projects we have coming up, plan events and fundraisers and plan how best to invest in saving our rivers. We also talk about fishing, the environment, drink beer and laugh a lot. Board member Paul Hollrah's wife likes him to attend the meetings because he always comes home in a great mood. Please join us!

Colorado Water Plan

If you're interested in the health of our rivers in Colorado, you're probably aware that our state has implemented its first ever water plan. Like any document created in a politically charged environment, it is a product of compromise. It doesn't give TU and other environmental environmental organizations everything we would hope for, but it appears to be a positive step forward. Here's a link to Trout Unlimited's  mostly positive take on the new agreement.

Toxic Mine Risk to Rivers

About three million gallons of toxic sludge spilled into a tributary of the Colorado River near Durango, CO on August 7, 2015.  Numerous mines in the US pose the same sort of threat.

We're fortunate that here in Grand County we were never a big mining center so we will won't have a problem of this nature. Our local struggle is more focused on maintining water quantity and managing the impacts of low flow rather than coping with a toxic spill.

The big picture is not that it's the EPA's fault for causing the spill. It's that there are 500,000 abandoned hard-rock mines in the US and thousands of them pose similar threats. TU national would like to be part of the solution, but current law makes it difficult for a non-profit to be much help in solving the problem. The upper 15 miles of the Animas River was dead for years before this spill happened because of leakage from mines. As a result, no trout died due to the spill.

 Here's a link to the Durango Herald which is frequently updating their information. Colorado Public Radio has produced several excellent features on the spill as well. Follow this link to their website and enter "animas" in the search box in the upper right of the page. Rocky Mountain PBS also had a segment on the spill, including an interview with a TU representative on their Friday 8/14/15 Colorado State of Mind show. Here's a link to the RMPBS website which already has several water-related features. 

Many Colorado Rivers Impacted by Mines

More than 1,600 miles of Colorado rivers are impacted by runoff from mines. The good news for us locally is that Grand County does not have any of the impacted rivers. For more detail and a detailed map click here.  
Give TU Membership to a Teen

The holidays are fast approaching. What can you give the teen who has everything? Don't give them a thing at all, give them a TU membership! Trout Unlimited has a special offer to get teens engaged with something they will enjoy for their entire life. Follow this link for the details.

Colorado Water Plan Update 

Colorado is working on its first-ever state-wide water plan. An important component of that plan is the Basin Implementation Plan (BIP). Our friends at the Audubon Society's Western River Action Network came our with a brief summary of what they like and don't like from what has been presented so far. To see their informative one-page summary, click here.   

In late February, 2014, information about the first-ever Colorado water plan was published by the Northwest Colorado Council of Government. Planning based on science rather than political or economic clout will be good for our rivers and larger environment. Read more under the Conservation & Science tab of this website or by clicking here.

Science or Politics 

Trout Unlimited believes science should trump politics. As a result, we strongly disagree with a letter to the editor which appeared in the July 16, 2014 Sky-Hi News. To read TU's response to these politically charged comments, click here.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Others Talk About Water On StarTalk 

During February of 2015, the StarTalk podcast hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson devoted two entire episodes to a discussion of water. Guests Robert F. Kennedy Jr., The Gyalwang Drukpa, Dr. Tess Russo and Jason Sudeikis participated in an enlightened, informative discussion about water on our world and others. The podcasts are available by clicking here.

Confused About Colorado Water Law?

Water law in Colorado was written when it was still legal to own a slave. It's complex and often confusing. We're lucky to have a very readable one-page summary written by District 51 Water Commissioner Sue Avre to help us all understand the basics. Click here to check it out on our new Colorado Water Law page. Thanks Sue!

Windy Gap Letter

Dennis Buechler, the Director Emeritus of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, sent an excellent letter to the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Public Health & Environment Water Control Division on January 2, 2013. He discussed the positives of the December 2, 2012 1041 agreement regarding the Windy Gap Firming project and pointed out some important reasons to remain vigilant about the process. This brief letter is well worth reading and is available here

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.


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.

Defend the colorado

  What can you actually do to help save our rivers? One easy step is simply to sign up on the Defend the Colorado web site and to Like it on Facebook.
  Don’t let the Colorado River go down the drain. Soon, 80% of the Colorado’s water could be diverted from its headwaters to the sprawling cities and suburbs of the Front Range. Only a trickle would be left for fish, wildlife, recreation and the small headwaters communities. Join the fight to protect the Colorado and Fraser rivers and our Colorado way of life.
  Follow this link to the Defend the Colorado website for a wealth of information including links to several video clips by Ted Wood from the Story Group.

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.