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 12,000. 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 That outdated approach to water enabled entities on the opposite side of the continental divide to buy the rights to most of the water in Grand County and send that water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!
Why does TU support the Mitigation and Enhancement Plan (MECP) with Denver Water and Grand County? Some feel that it will lead to more problems for the Fraser and upper Colorado. TU recognizes the reality that Denver Water owns even more water in Grand County than they are already taking. We wish that wasn't the case. We'd rather see more water stay here, but we live in this world, not the one we wish for.
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.
Live music, beer, food and people who care about our rivers! Our annual free music festival/fundraiser is set for Saturday September 6 at the Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser from 2-10 PM. We'll have a multitude of live bands and information about the challenges our rivers face as well as the progress that has been made. For details about the event, click here.
TU volunteers are needed from 8:30 - 3:00 on Thursday, September 25 to help our friends at the Grand County Water Information Network. They are holding an educational field trip in Grand County to educate local students about local water information. For more details, click here to email Sara at GCWIN.
Trout Unlimited believes science should trump politics. As a result, we strongly disagree with an ill-informed letter to the editor which appeared in the July 16 Sky-Hi News. To read TU's response to these politically charged comments, click here.
Grand County has more water diverted from it than any other county in the state. As much as 80% of the upper Colorado will be sent to the opposite side of the continental divide. The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited has partnered with Grand County TV18 to create a new TV documentary series being filmed here in Grand County. The series highlights the challenges facing our rivers, informs you as to what can be done and how you can help protect our natural heritage. The show airs daily on Comcast in Grand County at 8 AM, 12:30 PM and can also be seen via a live stream (click here for the live stream) everywhere. For details, including how you can support the documentary, and a few segments from the show, click here.
The Colorado Headwaters Chapter of TU hosted an event at the amazing Trail River Ranch property in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our second annual Family Fly Fishing event was on Friday, July 11, and was again a sellout and a big success. TU provided fly fishing instructors and loaner equipment. Many thanks to all our volunteers including Wayne Balnicki, Rob Firth, Kent and Jancie Hughes, Barry and Linda Stein, Greg Frick, Steve Weisser, Paul Hollrah and event co-chairs, Beth Lidvall and Jerry Nissen. Photos are available in the photo gallery of our friends at the Fraser River Valley Lions Club by clicking here.
The latest June 2014 TV coverage on the Fraser addresses this spring's floods in Grand County and the reality of water storage and diversion. Click here to go to the 4 minute video clip featuring two local TU board members. The new Mitigation and Enhancement Plan is described in this local April 26 TV newscast available by clicking here. To see a brief April 6 TV newscast focusing on two Grand County water issues, click here. You'll see a good summary of the Moffat agreement and the latest on the Byers Peak project's water.
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!
A thank you plaque was presented to Devil’s Thumb Ranch on March 26 for donating a portion of the proceeds from January's first annual Stagecoach Classic xc ski race to three local conservation-oriented non-profits. The race was a huge success, with more participants than any other ski race in the state! Many thanks to everyone who participated or volunteered. Right to left, Nick Meyer (Colorado Headwaters Land Trust), Maura McKnight (Headwaters Trail Alliance), Kirk Klancke (Trout Unlimited), Igor Guziur (Devil's Thumb Ranch), Carse Pustmueller (Colorado Headwaters Land Trust). Photo by Jerry Nissen.
Early March 2014 has been a satisfying time to be an advocate for the Colorado River. We made progress on the Fraser and there's other good news for the environment, too.
The Colorado River typically is used up entirely before it reaches the Gulf of California. This year, a US-Mexican agreement will allow water to be released from the final dam on the Colorado to mimic spring flooding. This was an interesting experiment, but is not likely to become a normal event. To read more, click here.
In late February, 2014, some new 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.
6.2 billion gallons will be used next year for fracking in Colorado. What happens to that water? How much is recycled or can be reused? For an interesting report by Colorado Public Radio, click here.
Confused about the Moffat Diversion Project? A study completed by Colorado State University in the fall of 2013 brought up serious concerns about the impact of reduced flows resulting from the Moffat project. This is the sort of science based analysis that helped lead to the favorable agreement of March, 2014. Supporting TU helps us to develop and use this sort of information in our efforts to protect our rivers and the environment. We believe the important decisions about our rivers and the environment should be influenced by science not money or politics. For an excellent, readable summary of the study's results, click here. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is available by clicking here.
Renowned muralist and conservationist Wyland announced on December 4, 2013 that Katrina Larson's art students at East Grand Middle School were named the grand prize winners of the National "Water Is Life" Classroom mural contest for grades 5-8. The contest, inspired by the growing demands on U.S. water resources, took place Oct. 21-Nov. 21, and drew more than 9,000 students across 45 states. Participating students painted 50 square-foot murals depicting the range of habitats and uses for water throughout the United States. We'll have an entire page about the award up shortly. For now, you can follow this link to the Wyland Foundation's web page with information about the contest and comments on our local kid's winning entry. Good job, guys!
Grand Lake had long been famous for its amazingly clear water, but that's changed. The Bureau of Reclamation has finalized its Grand Lake Water Clarity Technical Review and Work Plan that addresses concerns of water clarity at Colorado’s Grand Lake. For more information and to access the report, click here.
Some Trout Unlimited members recently received an invoice from Platinum Publishing Service located in White City, Oregon, for renewal of TROUT magazine at a cost of $79.95.This is not a legitimate invoice from Trout Unlimited. TU is based in Woolly Bugger, WV and that's the only place an invoice would originate.
On Friday, September 20, Several TU members were lucky enough to spend much of the day teaching a group of kids about the environment and fly fishing. We met East Grand Middle School science teacher Alex Romanyshyn and his students at Monarch Lake and spent several hours talking about the environment, coaching fly fishing and watching moose. Thanks to Darlene Carter, Jancie & Kent Hughes, Kirk Klancke and Jerry Nissen for participating! For a link to photos, including numerous moose shots, click here.
September 3, 2013 found your web lackey/photographer-in-chief snapping pics of Jon Ewert, a team of DOW employees and volunteers from TU on the Fraser River near Safeway in Fraser. This is shocking (to the fish) because the team was electro-fishing in order to do a thorough inventory of the fish in this segment of the river. The process stuns the fish and allows them to be netted, counted, measured and released. Watching the process and the results was fascinating. Our film crew for the TU documentary The Mighty Colorado River was also on hand gathering content for future episodes. Check our the photos of the event in our photo gallery by clicking here. Watch for the upcoming episode on Grand County TV18 and from their website at http://grandcountytelevision.com/
The Denver Water Department has created an interesting blog. Just as this website presents the TU point of view, Denver Water's blog presents their point of view. Be sure to read the TU response after the initial Denver Water comments. They feel they're doing enough and the rivers will benefit from additional diversion. TU's Drew Peternell disagrees in his response. Follow this link to their blog.
Thanks to everyone who made our Banquet such a great success! Our board worked hard to round up a wonderful selection of auction items. John, our auctioneer did a great job. Devil's Thumb Ranch provided an amazing dinner. Kirk Klancke was a marvelous emcee and cheerleader for the "save our rivers" cause, but without our supporters who attended the Banquet, it wouldn't have mattered. Thanks to all of you who attended and bid on our auction items. Without you, it wouldn't matter. You, our supporters, made it possible for us to raise money to fight for the health of our rivers. Thank you! Our Banquet is our most important annual event, and primary annual fundraiser. The photo on the right shows Bob Fanch accepting the River Conservation Award from Kirk Klancke at this year's Banquet. Bob has been a key ally in our struggle to save our rivers. To see more photos from the event, click here.
Please be sure to sign up for our Friday July 11, 2014 Family Fly Fishing event. Click here for the event's page.
Denver Water's proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir is a critical component of the Moffat Collection System Project. As such, we see it as a necessary evil to enable the latest cooperative agreement between Denver Water, Trout Unlimited and Grand County to help us protect the Fraser and upper Colorado. We don't want more water to leave Grand County, but we believe that we will lose the water and need to make the best of what remains. The expansion of Gross Reservoir and inclusion of adaptive management (learning by doing) in the Moffat permit should help us make the best of our dwindling water supply. TU has been working to turn the Fraser from a dying river to a healthy creek and the expansion of Gross Reservoir will help us in that goal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is an integral part of the network of TU Chapters across the state of Colorado and throughout the country. Our Chapter is especially active for several reasons. The fishing here is wonderful and it is also at risk because of human activity. By working locally and in a broader area with help from TU in Colorado and nationally, we will do our best to protect and preserve our fishing opportunities and the rivers on which we rely. TU is the perfect organization within which we can achieve our goals. If our goals coincide with yours, please consider joining us. Click here for more about becoming a member.
Grand Lake (also known as Spirit Lake) is Colorado's largest natural lake and the first stop for the Colorado River as it leaves Rocky Mountain National Park. Like the Colorado and the Fraser Rivers, Grand Lake faces a variety of challenges resulting from human activity. The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of National TU is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of all our local surface water including this very special lake. Click here for our Grand Lake Home Page.
Welcome to the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited's web site. Because so many of our members have slow internet connections here in rural Colorado, there are no moving images, flashing banners or the like. There are also relatively few photos on most pages, but there is a photo gallery that we're beginning to populate. If you discover any errors, broken links or etc. please let me know.
Jerry Nissen, TU Board Member & Chief Web Lackey email@example.com
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