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Could Fishing be better? Lets talk.

Could fishing be better? Let’s talk.

Last spring a group of CMCTU board members were contemplating why we were unable to get more of our 1000-ish members engaged in volunteer activities, attending membership meetings, etc. It turns out that we have less than a few dozen ‘regulars’ who participate in our chapter events. We reflected on the chapter’s focus on Bear Creek and the greenbacks, and how it has been tied up in local politics and NEPA read tape. Thus, no volunteer projects, no action, no progress. We realize our members are almost all trout fisherman, and the irony that fishing for greenbacks wasn’t going to happen in the Pikes Peak region anytime soon. What we now realize is that we needed balance in our efforts and to widen our vision. The chapter just can’t be solely about greenbacks, or we will cease to be relevant, or perhaps even to exist. We realized that South park was where many of us fish and that above Spinney Reservoir was miles of river and stream with public access, particularly Badger Basin.

Badger Basin, the Middle Fork of the South Platte River near Hartsel

Badger Basin, the Middle Fork of the South Platte River near Hartsel

Out of this brain storming came Could Fishing be better? Let’s talk. “Could Fishing be better? Let’s talk.” is the recognition that we, CMCTU, needs to work with you, listen to you to improve your fishing experience in places where most of you (and us too) spend much of our time fishing. To that end we are focusing much, but not all, of this initiative in and around South Park, from the Dream Stream up. We want to increase the size and number of fish with an ecosystem based approach to improve your fishing experience. Our goal is to establish a world class, wild brown and rainbow fishery across South park!

The Middle Fork of the South Platte on a beautiful October day

Badger Basin section of the Middle Fork of the South Platte on a beautiful October day near Hartsel

The problem!

The problem!

This area of the South Platte has great potential, but it hasn’t realized in decades due to one singular problem, cattle. That is the cattle have to be kept out of the stream and away from the stream-side vegetation (think willows) that stabilize the banks (think deep channels and undercut banks). And, the cattle still need access to water, and the ranchers need a means to move there herds about their property. While Colorado, i.e., we, has an easement giving us access to fishing, the easement stipulates that it is the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s, CPW,  responsibility to keep the cattle out of the stream. Then there is the role of the relationship between CPW and the landowners… Lets just say that that doesn’t always go too well. About the section of river where the cow is taking a drink the fences are decades old, and it shows. The cattle have essentially free access to the stream. Below is a photograph that are typical of the area about Hartsel, upstream from Route 24. Fence are missing, or suffering from decades of freeze and thaw cycles that move, pull out, or destroy posts.

What can we do? Well, we can work with CPW and their Area 1 team to repair and maintain the fencing. We can plant willows and other native plants to stabilize the banks. We can eradication invasive plants. An don’t forget we need regular spring flooding to clean and repair the river. In the photograph of the river above one can see how the extensive run-off and subsequent flooding  in 2015 moved extensive rock and gravel and filled in the inside curves of the river. When wading the river this year the channel has been cleansed, much sediment removed, and the channel has been narrowed and deepened. Those new banks now need willows!

Given CPW budget woes, we the CMCTU team can make a huge difference. We established a collaboration with CPW in 2015 including a South park project at Knight-Imler SWA. We anticipate several significant projects in 2016 in South Park assisting CPW to improve our fishing. Could fishing be better in Badge Basin? Yes, and we can make it so! Follow our posts to get more information on this CMCTU initiative.

Badger Basin

Common state of fencing after decades of wear and tear.

 

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