Life is more than just trail running, fly fishing, and craft beer. Through the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon and our parent 501(c)(3) organization Running Rivers, we are raising money to protect the very streams that we fish and the trails that we run. In the three years that we have been holding Flyathlon events, we have raised more than $65,000 for on-the-ground restoration and education projects through our conservation partners Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Western Native Trout Initiative.
What projects are we working on?
Funds raised through the Flyathlon are currently being used for projects in the San Luis Valley, as well as for cold-water conservation around the state of Colorado.
Projects funded with donations from Rocky Mountain Flyathlon events
San Luis Valley Projects
- Haypress Lake. This small reservoir on private land in the Rio Grande basin has for many years served as the broodstock source for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Rio Grande cutthroat trout recovery program. A small grant from the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon is helping with an engineering study that will ensure dam safety, so that the lake can be maintained long-term as a home for Rio Grande cutthroat trout and a source for restoring the fish into new waters.
- Rio Grande cutthroat signs/posters. Rocky Mountain Flyathlon funds, leveraged through a Western Native Trout Initiative grant, have enabled production and distribution of educational signs (10) and posters (2000) highlighting the native Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
- Rio Grande basin fishing map. The San Luis Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited is partnering with the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon to develop an updated fishing/recreation map as a resource for those enjoying the Rio Grande river and its watershed. This map will highlight locations to catch and release Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
- Re-routing the East Middle Creek trail out of East Middle Creek. Those of you who competed in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Flyathlon will remember a swampy section of the course around Mile 2 (and Mile 5 on the return). Well, since the race, the beaver have gone to town up in there, and flooded the entire valley floor, putting a good section of the trail under several feet of water. Recognizing the risks to people and stream habitat, the good people at the Forest Service Saguache Ranger District re-routed the trail away from the creek and up onto the hillside. Part of the funds raised last year have been donated to the Saguache RD to offset some of the cost of that trail work. Those who competed in the 2015 Middle Creek Flyathlon realized the benefit from the super-fishy-looking beaver pond habitat that now exists throughout East Middle Creek.
- Middle Creek trail. Flyathletes who ran the long course at 2015 Middle Creek Flyathlon know that the trail was basically nonexistent. In a partnership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, volunteers (including several flyathletes) rebuilt sections of the Indian Creek trail, which provides a second route to access Rio Grande cutthroat trout fishing in the upper reaches of Middle Creek.
- Development of a Rio Grande cutthroat trout trailhead sign. This project will repurpose some of the content developed for a popular brochure on the Rio Grande cutthroat trout to create educational signage for trailheads in drainages with resident Rio Grande cutts. Ultimately, we envision that these signs will educate hikers, runners, hunters, bikers, fisher-people, birders, etc… about the threats facing this important fish.
Native Cutthroat Trout Projects
- Burgess Creek educational signage. Colorado River cutthroat were recently discovered in Burgess Creek within the Steamboat ski area. Rocky Mountain Flyathlon funds are helping to install educational signage about the native trout on-mountain, where it will be seen by thousands of skiers, bikers, and other visitors every year.
- Coldwater-fisheries Adaptive Management Plan (CAMP). Rocky Mountain Flyathlon proceeds, leveraged more than 10 times over, are aiding the CAMP effort in the Dolores basin to bring the best science, including understanding of future climate change risks, to guide protection and restoration efforts for native trout in southwestern Colorado.
- George Creek greenback restoration. Leveraged with funds raised by local TU members and a grant from Patagonia, Rocky Mountain Flyathlon funds will help cover the cost of installing a new fish barrier for the George/Cornelius Creek area in the Poudre watershed. The barrier will help secure suitable habitat for greenback recovery upstream.
- Greenback cutthroat trout outreach & education. With leveraged funds and volunteer assistance from the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Flyathlon proceeds are helping develop materials for education and outreach on Colorado’s state fish, the native greenback cutthroat trout. These include website and video development, youth education materials including a fish life cycle game, and partnership efforts with the Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado Springs where thousands of students each year pass through and can learn about Greenbacks in their local Bear Creek.
- Mount Shavano fish hatchery. With support from the Flyathlon and local Trout Unlimited chapters, Colorado Parks and Wildlife installed new smaller tanks for rearing native greenback cutthroat trout for use in restoration projects, helping to improve the fish’s growth and survival.