Reclamation: Three Chinook Spotted Above Glines Canyon; First Salmon Return to the Upper Elwha in 102 Years

September 13, 2014
Demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam via The Seattle Times

Demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam via The Seattle Times


Summit County buys mining claims near Montezuma to protect land — Summit Daily News

August 25, 2014

Snake River

Snake River


From the Summit Daily News (Alli Langley/Joe Moylan) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

During the silver mining boom of the 1870s, with a population of just 71, Sts. John was for a short time Summit County’s largest town.

The Summit County Open Space and Trails Department recently bought the abandoned townsite and nearby mining claims for $425,000 from the Tolen family, which owned land in the area since the 1950s.

The purchase, finalized July 28, conserves about 90 acres in the Snake River Basin above the town of Montezuma as public open space. The 18 separate parcels have significant wildlife value, according to the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, the U.S. Forest Service and the Snake River Master Plan.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Tolen family for working closely with the Summit County Open Space program to preserve the heritage of Sts. John and this exquisite landscape for the enjoyment of Summit County citizens and visitors alike,” said Brian Lorch, the program’s director. “This is one of the most important and significant acquisitions the program has made in recent years.”

The county acquired the properties using the Summit County Open Space fund, approved by voters in 2008. Breckenridge Ski Resort contributed $25,000 toward the purchase as part of a deal with environmental groups worried about the impacts of the recent Peak 6 development.

With the acquisition, the county will protect a large portion of the Snake River Basin backcountry and preserve a piece of Summit County history. Lorch said the Sts. John properties are highly valued for their intact historic resources, popularity for outdoor recreation and high-quality wetlands and wildlife habitat…

The Summit County Open Space program acquires lands to protect the scenic beauty, natural habitat, backcountry character and recreational opportunities in Summit County. Funded through property tax mill levies approved by Wvoters in 1993, 1999, 2003 and 2008, the program has protected more than 14,000 acres of open space.

More Blue River watershed coverage here.


Still no action on the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act

August 25, 2014
Hermosa Park

Hermosa Park

From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

Coloradans, perhaps better than anyone, understand and appreciate just how special the wilderness can be. And as connoisseurs of the outdoors, they recognize there are not only wild places, but there are best wild places.

These are the places that inspire — some acknowledged and held sacred, others that have managed to remain under the radar. Others still find themselves perched in a sort of purgatory somewhere in between.

Hermosa Creek, in the San Juan National forest just north of Durango, might qualify among those in-betweeners. To Durango locals, the drainage that translates to “beautiful” creek epitomizes the Colorado outdoor experience, and they’d like to see it remain that way. But those who don’t frequent the Four Corners region may not be aware of all that this hidden gem has to offer.

Count the majority of U.S. Congress among that latter group. For more than a year now, a bipartisan bill known as the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act has languished in the legislative branch of our federal government as a consensus of local stakeholders await acknowledgment of efforts to preserve the attributes that make the place so special.

“The primary thing the bill does is it takes the basin and protects it exactly as it is today,” said Ty Churchwell, backcountry coordinator for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “This bill is completely supported by consensus from all stakeholders — everyone from county commissioners and town boards to sportsmen, miners, mountain bikers and motorized users. There’s nothing for them to do in D.C. but vote it forward.”

Beyond its lush landscape and idyllic scenery, the beauty of Hermosa lies in its everyman outdoors appeal. The upper creek is a focal point of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Colorado River cutthroat reintroduction program, and the state’s largest unprotected roadless area remains a hunter’s paradise where trophy elk still die of old age. The 20-mile main trail along the creek corridor is a mountain biker’s mecca. The same trail is shared by a reasonable number of motorized users. Backpackers and horseback riders might cross the creek and make their way into a proposed 38,000-acre wilderness area a quarter mile away.

Overall, the bill would protect 108,000 acres through a series of special management areas, allowing for a variety of historic uses. It’s a one-of-a-kind proposal aimed at protecting an entire watershed as an intact, whole unit, rather than parts and pieces of it.

“When we started talking about protecting Hermosa as a river, the work group decided to look at this river basin as a whole ecological unit instead of just a river corridor,” Churchwell said. “That means that the boundaries for this protection are the ridge lines. Everything that flows out of this basin is included in the protection — the whole watershed. It’s the first time that we are aware of that there has ever been a protection bill that encompasses an entire watershed.”

As a result, a coalition of sportsmen’s conservation groups, guides and outfitters, fly shops and retailers, have united with local government entities in support of protecting this public land deemed vital to America’s hunting and fishing traditions and values.

“Hermosa Creek and the backcountry lands that flank its banks are among the special places that hunters and anglers in Colorado and across the region see as crucial to protect for the good of sportsmen, the environment and the sustainability of area businesses,” said John Gale, the Colorado-based manager of the National Wildlife Federation’s sportsmen’s outreach.

Should a portion of the drainage receive federal Wilderness designation this year, it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 as only the second wilderness area recognized by Congress since 2009.

More Hermosa Creek watershed coverage here and here.


CPW: Wetland Program awards $600,000 in grants for 2014

August 21, 2014
Blanca Wetlands via the National Park Service

Blanca Wetlands via the National Park Service

From Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has selected 15 wetland and riparian restoration projects that will share in $600,000 in Wetlands Program grants funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).

Approved projects will restore and enhance more than 4,700 acres of wetlands and riparian areas on State Wildlife Areas, State Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and other public and private lands across Colorado. Two projects will restore habitats damaged by last September’s flooding. A project at Boulder County’s Webster Pond will create shallow wetlands from a former gravel mining pit, which will also be used for native fish rearing. A project at Loveland’s Morey Wildlife Preserve will improve stream channels for wildlife and fish along the Big Thompson River.

“Wetlands and riparian areas are critically important wildlife habitats,” said Brian Sullivan, CPW Wetlands Program coordinator. “Most wildlife species in Colorado use these areas, which represent only a small part of our landscape.”

Waterfowl aren’t the only species to benefit from these funded restoration projects. Twenty other species of conservation concern, including the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, southwest willow flycatcher, boreal toad and Arkansas darter benefit too.

“GOCO strongly supports wetland and riparian conservation” says GOCO Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug. “Healthy wetlands and riparian areas mean healthy wildlife populations and water supplies. Restoring these habitats helps build strong communities.”

GOCO, which invests a portion of Colorado Lottery revenues, has supported CPW’s wetland and riparian conservation efforts since 1997. GOCO also provided an additional $250,000 for 10 separate riparian restoration grants earlier this year, all of which include volunteer and Youth Corps labor.

More than 20 funding partners will contribute more than $1.2 million in matching funds for CPW’s wetland grants. Funding partners include city, county, state and federal governments, nonprofit conservation organizations, landowners, and volunteers.

“It is especially rewarding to see so many entities stepping up to partner with us in wildlife habitat conservation,” said Bob Broscheid, CPW director. “This is no surprise given the importance of this work to sustaining both game and nongame wildlife and improving waterfowl hunting in Colorado.”

The complete list of 2014 wetland and riparian restoration projects can be found online at http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/WetlandsProjectFunding.aspx.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, more than 300 state wildlife areas, all of Colorado’s wildlife, and a variety of outdoor recreation. For more information go to http://cpw.state.co.us


Fountain Creek erosion mitigation project results encouraging

August 15, 2014
Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A project to restore a small portion of Fountain Creek could have benefits for longer reaches.

“There are 51 miles of bank on each side of the creek from Colorado Springs to Pueblo,” said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. “Now we know a method to use to control erosion.”

Small was giving a report to the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, which gave the green light to a $146,000 state grant toward the $189,000 project last year to undertake the project on Frost Ranch, located in El Paso County about 25 miles north of Pueblo.

The project restored the channel and fortified the bank along 480 feet of the Frost Ranch. Past floods had eaten away about 70 feet of the bank, including vegetation. Three tiers of dirt secured by netting rising about 4 feet were chosen as the way to restore this particular area. About 7,500 willow plants, along with grasses and other vegetation to hold the shore.

Work began in April and was completed in mid-May.

The first test of the work came on May 23, when the creek swelled to 3,000 cubic feet per second, rising nearly to the top of the newly constructed embankment, Small said. The work held, and the moisture spurred plant growth. About 75 percent of the plants survived.

A larger wave of water, 5,000 cfs, came on July 23. While some of the water overtopped the bank and deposited sand along the top, the bank stayed in place.

The roundtable applauded the district’s efforts.

“Frost Ranch has been an excellent neighbor to the creek,” said SeEtta Moss of Canon City, who was appointed to the roundtable to represent environmental interests. “I’m delighted to see what’s been done.”

More Fountain Creek coverage here.


Roaring Fork wetland planting project August 23

August 14, 2014

Biodiversity: Can Colorado’s native greenback cutthroat trout make a big comeback?

August 13, 2014

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Recovery team stocks genetically pure trout in historic habitat
A Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy Andrew Todd.

A Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy Andrew Todd.

FRISCO — Colorado’s native greenback cutthroat trout may be on their way to repopulating their historic habitat in the South Platte River Basin, thanks in part to a scientific sleuthing effort that helped trace the genetic roots of the colorful fish a couple of years ago.

About 1,200 greenback cutthroat fingerlings reared in federal and state hatcheries in Colorado were stocked into Zimmerman Lake, near Cameron Pass last week. An interagency recovery team hopes the stocking is a first milestone toward re-establishing populations of the state fish, which nearly vanished from Colorado’s rivers  because of  pollution, overfishing and stocking of native and non-native species of trout.

In 2012, scientists concluded that the only remaining genetically pure greenbacks were isolated in a small, single population — about 750 fish, all living in…

View original 485 more words


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