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.