The San Luis Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited
A Brief History of the San Luis Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter from 1991-PresentThe SLV Chapter of Trout Unlimited (SLVTU) was reorganized in 1991, thanks primarily to the efforts of Dr. Kay O. Watkins, who had asked a regional VP of Colorado TU to come to a meeting of interested folks in the fall of that year. Volunteers for officers included Jeff Woodward (President), Kay Watkins (Vice-President), Joe Kolupke (Newsletter Editor), and Harry Daley (Treasurer). When Jeff was unable to fulfill the presidential duties, Kay agreed to step in and become president for the remainder of the term (and the next year as well). Since that reorganization, the chapter has had numerous additional members serve as officers, including Steve Aldrich, John Anderson, Mel Armold, Deacon Aspinwall, Rob Benson, Duane Bussey, Larry Bussey, Doug Camp, Alan Carothers, Joel Condren, Clark Dierks, Jerry Freeman, Dave Hayden, Marty Jones, Leo Kazeck, Dave Kenvin, Keith Motley, Matt Nehring, Frank Novotny, Larry Orr, Mark Seaton, Larry Shriver, Kevin Terry, and Tom Tichy. Many of these members have served multiple years in various capacities. Thanks to them, the chapter has continued to be a viable group for 24 years!
The motto of Trout Unlimited is “Dedicated to the conservation, preservation, and restoration of North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds”. SLVTU embraces that motto by focusing on projects to enhance local and regional watersheds. Among the projects our chapter has worked on are: construction of major in-stream habitat improvement structures (cross-vanes, j-hooks, root wads, etc.) on the Conejos River and the Rio Grande; construction of gabion weirs on the Middle Fork of Saguache Creek; removal of still-water ponds that provided good habitat for Tubifex worms (host of the whirling disease organism Myxobolus cerebralis) along Beaver Creek; planting of willows along La Garita and Kerber Creeks; helping to install electric fencing in the riparian zone along the South Platte River; construction of check dams on drainages above Osier Creek to reduce siltation; construction of fences along sections of the Conejos River and Jim Creek to protect riparian zones from overgrazing; and surveys of fish populations, both by creel census and electroshocking. Partners in these projects have included the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (previously Colorado Division of Wildlife), Natural Resource Conservation Service, Conejos River Anglers, Collegiate Peaks Chapter of TU, and others. In addition, we clean up three miles of highway along the upper Rio Grande twice a year. We have also conducted education projects for both youth and adults by hosting fly-tying, fly-casting and macroinvertebrate identification workshops.
To provide funding for these projects, each year since the chapter was re-established we have held fundraising auctions. Most of these have been held in Alamosa, but a few have been held in South Fork, CO. Additional funding has been obtained from Fishing is Fun grants, Colorado Trout Unlimited (Gomo grant) and National Trout Unlimited (Embrace-a-Stream grant). Conejos River Anglers Flyshop, and their customers (via the annual Superfly contest), have been generous donors to our projects on the Conejos River.
Although we are a small chapter, we are active and encourage any full-time or part-time residents of the San Luis Valley who are interested in fishing and conservation efforts to join us. We typically meet the last Tuesday evening of the month at 7 pm. Check the website or follow us on Facebook (San Luis Valley Trout Unlimited) to get updates on meetings and projects. Thanks for helping protect and conserve cold water fisheries in the San Luis Valley!