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Dear Editor,

Trout Unlimited (TU) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and restoring cold water fisheries and the rivers and streams where they live. Trout Unlimited, Colorado Trout Unlimited, and the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited all have endorsed Chaffee County Ballot Issue 1A because it will provide much-needed funding for projects that strengthen forest health, conserve working farms and ranches, and help to mitigate the impacts of growth and outdoor recreation.

Fishing for brown trout on the Arkansas River above Salida. (photo courtesy of

These efforts, in turn, will benefit Chaffee County’s fisheries and waterways in several ways:

* Snowmelt from high altitude, intact forests is the primary source of clean, cold water for rivers and streams. By improving forest health, 1A will help ensure a continuous supply of high-quality water in the Arkansas River and its

* As rivers and streams run downhill from high altitude forests, they often pass through farm and ranch lands. Well-managed farms and ranches allow waterways to function naturally and dynamically. Through projects that conserve farms and ranches – and the unfragmented open spaces that come with them – 1A will help protect the natural hydrological processes that are important to Chaffee County’s waterways.

* Growth and increasing outdoor recreation can have an adverse impact on water quality. By mitigating the impacts of growth and outdoor recreation, 1A will have measurable benefits to the quality of the water running in Chaffee County’s rivers and streams.

Every year, TU works with dozens of private landowners in Colorado on cooperative projects funded partially with public dollars, such as those that would be generated through 1A. In response to a recent letter in The Mountain Mail foreseeing an unwillingness of private landowners to accept public dollars, I note that in many years of developing and overseeing these projects, I am unaware of a single instance in which a private landowner rejected project funding because it would come from a public source. Nevertheless, no one would be required to participate in a project funded through 1A. Projects funded through 1A would be completely voluntary, and they would occur on both private and public lands.

As a resident of Salida and the director of TU’s Colorado Water Project, I am proud to support Ballot Issue 1A. I urge all Chaffee County residents who value the Arkansas River and its tributaries to do the same.

Drew Peternell, Director
Trout Unlimited Colorado Water Project