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The agreement will support process-based restoration in the Colorado River, including the Upper Arkansas River watershed

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Trout Unlimited (TU) today announced a five-year, $8.8 million agreement to reconnect and restore arid Western watersheds. This agreement not only includes the Colorado River,  but Trout Unlimited confirmed this morning that it will include the upper portion of the Arkansas River watershed that is in Colorado and New Mexico.

Kid’s Fishing Derby at Franz Lake sponsored by Trout Unlimited Check In Photo By Taylor Sumners

This watershed includes Chaffee, Lake, and Fremont counties (it does not affect the Fry-Ark agreement). Other western watersheds it covers are the California-Great Basin, and the Columbia Pacific Northwest river systems.

TU will reconnect watersheds and habitat for wild and native trout across BLM lands in the West, with the goal of making these regions more resilient to drought.

“Climate change and severe drought are having devastating impacts on our water resources in the arid West, affecting both people and fish,” said Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood.

“By reconnecting and restoring aquatic habitat, we can help wild and native trout and salmon survive and thrive in the face of climate change,” he added. “We appreciate the strong partnership we have with the Bureau of Land Management to conserve our public land water resources for current and future generations.”

Trout Unlimited’s restoration projects employ low-tech tactics to restore natural stream function and hydrology, including dam removal, replacing perched culverts with those that simulate a natural stream, and installing beaver dam analogs, for example. TU says that it will develop project priorities with the BLM while engaging a diverse coalition of partners including tribes, ranchers, irrigators, and recreationists.

“This exciting new initiative will help public lands and nearby communities better withstand the floods, fires, and drought associated with climate change,” added Wood. “Our work will increase communities’ drought resiliency, protect imperiled species, and engage people, especially young people, in conservation. We will work with our partners to create high-paying family-wage jobs, reduce drinking water filtration costs, and drive new economic opportunity in rural communities across America.”

Funding for the initiative comes from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and adds to TU’s capacity to implement on-the-ground restoration projects across the country for wild and native trout and salmon.

Since the start of 2022, TU has secured more than $100 million in federal funding via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to support its work in watersheds across the country in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the BLM.

For the unfamiliar, Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater  fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams for today and for future generations.

Across the country, TU, including the local Collegiate Peaks chapter of TU, brings to bear local, regional and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters, and vibrant communities.

Learn more about TU’s work to restore watersheds at