Photo: Volunteers planting willows on a stretch of the Fraser River to help create shady areas along the river banks. This photo was taken in 2019 by volunteer and board member. Photo Courtesy of Jerry Nissen
Even though Covid-19 has disrupted all of our lives and put many projects and jobs on hold, our mission to protect and restore the health of the rivers and streams that comprise the headwaters of the Colorado River remains unchanged. In fact, it’s more important than ever.
Grand County rivers are the most heavily diverted in Colorado with 60 percent of our rivers leaving the county for Front Range cities. Unfortunately, the remaining 40 percent of our native flows are inadequate to maintain stream health without extensive work. That remains true today.
All of our work requires fundraising, which like all non-profit organizations has been hurt by the social distancing required to fight the virus. Our main source of income is our annual banquet, one of the county’s largest social gatherings and always a favorite. For obvious reasons, we have canceled this year’s banquet, but we’re putting together a virtual event that will allow you to help the Headwaters Chapter, have some fun and take a break from the rigors of daily life.
We are holding an online silent auction and a Zoom live auction. The online auction will start on July 13th, the week of national Trout Unlimited’s founding anniversary, and end on the evening of July 27th when we will hold a live Zoom auction.
These auctions are a chance to support the healing of the headwaters of the Colorado River while shopping for interesting art items, jewelry, sports gear, guided fishing trips and much more. To learn how to participate, go to coheadwaters.org.
The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is located in Grand County, the birthplace of the Colorado River.
We don’t just talk about what needs to be done or what we’re going to do. TU members roll up their sleeves and get things done.
We have teamed up with Front Range water diverters, Grand County government, and other West Slope water conservation organizations to repair both aquatic and riparian habitat here in the Headwaters.
This stakeholders group is called Learning by Doing and through this groundbreaking new collaboration we have already had some amazing successes and people on both sides of the Divide have learned we can work together to help meet Front Range water needs and preserve the health of our Headwaters rivers and streams.
For the aquatic habitat we are working to configure the stream bed to be properly sized with the diminished stream flows the river now experiences. Our first project was about one mile on the Fraser River and opened up a new public reach for fishing. We have also planted over 7,000 willows to repair riparian stream reaches damaged by poor ranching practices. With a successful start, we are already in the process of moving more projects forward including reconnecting the Colorado River around Windy Gap Reservoir.
All of these projects are based on science and the Headwaters Chapter of TU spends thousands of dollars each year to monitor stream temperatures, macroinvertebrate health and to conduct stream geomorphology and riparian health studies. We also assist Colorado Parks and Wildlife with fish counts that help determine stream health.
Because the headwaters of the Colorado River belong to the generations that follow us, we spend thousands more on youth education, in the classroom, field trips on the river and through Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Youth Conservation Camp.
We need your help to continue our work.
If shopping is not your thing, a direct donation to our work can be made at the same web address. This is also a good place to investigate the work that we do that is too extensive to list in a single news article.
Please join us for a fun way to help protect our rivers and streams. And let’s all plan on being together in person for next year’s auction.