As printed in The Mountain Mail, January 29, 2016, edition.

by Keith Krebs

I would like to acknowledge the considerable help Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited gets from local collaborators.

The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association is a significant positive force in our community. GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.

For the last 2 years Collegiate Peaks Chapter has collaborated with GARNA to successfully continue our Stream Explorers programs for Salida and Buena Vista middle school students. Their management and organizational help have been invaluable.

We are currently collaborating with the Salida office of the Southwest Conservation Corps with the goal of using its property along the South Arkansas River, including the existing wetlands, as the permanent site for the extension and expansion of our Salida Stream Explorers program. Christened the South Arkansas River Ecosystem Learning Center (SARELC), it promises great opportunities for all members of the Salida community.

We have partnered with the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas (LTUA) on a variety of projects. The latest is our financial and volunteer labor support for the second phase restoration of the South Arkansas. The first phase was successfully completed in 2014. We are looking forward to the third phase that is planned to include the SARELC section.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been a collaborator for many years. Our local aquatic biologist, Greg Policky, has not only provided ongoing opportunities for enhancement and preservation of our river, streams and watersheds, but also is the key person responsible for the recent Gold Medal status of the Arkansas River fishery.

Our latest project with CPW was stocking 11,000 greenback cutthroat trout fingerlings at nine backcountry locations.

Our two local newspapers, The Mountain Mail and The Chaffee County Times, starting in 2015, have published this monthly article written by various Collegiate Peaks Chapter members. Each article attempts to be engaging and informative.

And last, but certainly not least, is the multi-generational Kelly family, owners of the historic Kelly Ranch south of Buena Vista. As longtime residents of the Upper Arkansas River Valley, they have been generous and community oriented.

The Kellys have maintained two large ponds on their property stocked with rainbow trout that are now quite large. And although the ponds remain private and are not open to public fishing, the Kellys do welcome a variety of nonprofit and charitable organizations to access the ponds.

This year they hosted three organizations: Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, for the Buena Vista Stream Explorers, Chaffee County Mentors division of Family & Youth Initiatives and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled military service personnel, for 3 great days of catch-and release fishing in the ponds on their ranch.

The Collegiate Peaks Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited organized, supplied and coordinated all three trips.

We are fortunate to have the Kelly family and collaborative organizations like CPW, LTUA, SCC and GARNA in our valley.

For more information about Collegiate Peaks Chapter and our events visit our website,

Keith Krebs is president of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited.