We had the bi-annual high country fish stocking on September 25th, 2019. It was coordinated by Michael Atwood from Colorado Parks & Wildlife. We had ten volunteers who (some in teams, some solo) stocked 11,000 fingerlings into about nine creeks. CPW stocked another location on horseback.

Locations:
Chalk Creek – 2,000 fish
Middle Cottonwood Creek – 1,500
South Cottonwood Creek – 1,500
Flume Creek – 600
Fourmile Creek – 3,000 – Stocked by CPW on horseback
Frenchman Creek – 500
Glacier Creek – 600
South Halfmoon Creek – 800
La Plata Gulch – 500

Participants: Keith Krebs, Tom Palka, Richard Frey, Eric Heltzel, Gene Milus, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Lally, Larry Siemiet, Larry Payne, Mike Perry.

Video

View a video that follows one chapter member who narrated stocking South Halfmoon Creek:

Volunteers from afar

This couple is from Joplin, Missouri. They heard about our stocking program while they were in the area, and they joined us! In their own words: “We did each have a bag of fish, we received them at the trailhead and hiked up from there. We stocked one bag at 3/4 mile as instructed. We gave our other bag to someone who didn’t have one to carry another 3/4 mile higher. What an incredible experience! We are forever grateful for having this experience! Thank you!!”

By Keith Krebs

This year Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CPC-TU) is joining Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU) in celebrating 50 years of protecting Colorado’s coldwater fisheries. Founded in 1969, CTU is the state’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization providing a voice for Colorado’s rivers. CPC-TU is a member chapter and celebrates being the oldest conservation organization, founded in 1984, in the upper Arkansas River valley.

CTU leverages the power of its 11,000 members who contribute approximately 44,000 volunteer hours annually to restoration, education and other local conservation projects, equivalent to the power of 22 full-time employees.
The vision is simple – by the next generation, CTU will ensure that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their original Colorado range so that our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters.

CPC-TU works to conserve, protect and restore Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. As one of the grassroots arms of CTU, we use cooperation, collaboration, advocacy and education to promote conservation. Our popular and on-going annual program, Stream Explorers, is now provided to middle school students in Salida, Buena Vista and Leadville.

We are celebrating the success of our collaborative partnership with Central Colorado Conservancy (CCC), Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and Salida Parks, Open Space and Trails (SPOT).

Our legacy project has come to be known as the Ecosystems Learning Center (ELC) at a Salida site along the South Arkansas River on SCC property. The late and legendary Fred Rasmussen conceptualized the project and CPC-TU was instrumental in identifying a superb site, compiling a list of outstanding, capable and committed collaborators and is helping to guide site development.

The purposes of ELC are to develop a local population of young citizens who know, understand and appreciate the diversity, beauty and value of our native river ecosystems; To restore the natural stream channel and adjacent riparian areas; To improve stream flows thereby enhancing aquatic life; To create a long-term site where local students learn to observe, measure, record and understand aquatic and other ecosystems; To provide a location where students develop and maintain a database over time; To provide a location where local groups set-up studies of specific aquatic, terrestrial, amphibious, avian and vegetative organisms.

We also want to celebrate a milepost of sorts. CCC has secured funding for engineering analysis and design documents to restore the South Arkansas River from the ELC site to the confluence with the main stem of the Arkansas. CPC-TU provided significant dollars to meet the high level of matching funds required.

To learn more about ELC and to find out how to support this project visit our website at collegiatepeaksTU.org.


Video courtesy of Denver Post


By Bill Vogrin, reposted from Colorado Parks & Wildlife press release

March 2, 2018

Volunteers key in grueling quest for wild rainbow trout resistant to whirling disease

SALIDA, Colo. – As snow piled up outside the Mount Ouray hatchery building late last month, inside a handful of Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff and volunteers from the Collegiate Peaks chapter of Trout Unlimited were huddled over large plastic tubs filled with rainbow trout swimming in 50-degree spring water.

For six hours that snowy day, the heavily-bundled volunteers repeatedly reached inside the buckets with double-gloved hands, dipped out a 3-inch trout and used scissors to snip off the tiny left pelvic fin. Then they dropped the squirming fish into a concrete raceway in the hatchery and grabbed another from the bucket, stopping occasionally to warm themselves next to a propane heater.

The snipping went on for four days until 20,000 trout had sacrificed a pelvic fin for science. The fish will be released in April into the Arkansas River downstream of Salida. When CPW biologists conduct surveys on the river, they’ll be able to identify these fish as unique and determine their rate of survival.

CPW wants to track them because these are special rainbows. They are the spawn of wild rainbows from the Gunnison River – rainbows that have somehow resisted succumbing to the deadly outbreak of whirling disease that ravaged Colorado’s rainbow trout population after it first erupted in the 1980s.

The effort of precisely marking 20,000 small fish was undertaken because CPW needs to know if the Gunnison River rainbows can establish themselves in the Arkansas and other rivers around the state.

Restoring to the Arkansas and other streams a wild, naturally reproducing rainbow trout that is resistant to whirling disease would be a huge wildlife conservation victory for CPW. So snipping a pelvic fin, which does not hurt the mildly sedated fish, is an important part of this effort.

By 1997, Colorado’s wild rainbow trout population essentially vanished and brown trout, which are more resistant to whirling disease, took over most of the state’s major rivers. Ever since, CPW aquatic research scientists and biologists have worked to combat whirling disease and re-establish wild rainbow trout in Colorado.

The effort included spending more than $13 million to clean up infected hatcheries and convert them to spring- and well-water rather than surface sources.

“CPW has been trying to create a wild reproducing population of rainbow trout in the Arkansas and other major Colorado Rivers for decades,” said Josh Nehring, senior aquatic biologist in the Southeast Region. “There have been several obstacles in the Arkansas River including competition with brown trout, river flows and whirling disease, which is present in the river.

“These Gunnison River rainbows have shown resistance to the disease. This would be a big breakthrough if this project succeeds.”

CPW biologists will stock the fish in a few weeks and return in October to survey the Arkansas to try to determine if and how many of the wild rainbow survived the summer.