Super psyched for my great friend and Flyathlon board member, Kevin Terry. Native fish are lucky to have you on their side, KT!
Originally printed in the Valley Courier, May 20th, 2016
For Kevin Terry, preserving native trout is a passionand his colleagues in the conservation community are taking notice.
The Trout Unlimited fisheries biologist and project manager, based in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, was recently awarded the Gila Trout Award at the Native and Wild Trout Conference in Phoenix in recognition of his contributions to native Rio Grande cutthroat trout recovery.
The Native and Wild Trout conference is an annual gathering of fisheries biologists, project managers and conservation enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the Southwest’s rare native trout species Gila, Apache and Rio Grande cutthroat trout which face serious threats from wildfires, drought, climate change and invasive species.
The Gila Trout Award, which recognizes outstanding individual achievement, cited Terry’s “remarkable work with Rio Grande cutthroat trout and his contributions towards public education and protection/ proliferation of the species,” and praised Terry’s “strong working relationships” with a variety of stakeholders, from water providers to recreational interests, ranchers to state and federal agencies.
Through these partnerships , Terry has spearheaded numerous habitat improvement projects on the Rio Grande River watershed in the San Luis Valley, including instream and riparian habitat restoration, irrigation infrastructure upgrades and fish-friendly diversions, as well as stream flow improvements to help native fish communities.
Among other projects, Kevin has taken a lead role in studying how to reintroduce Rio Grande cutthroat to the Sand Creek watershed in Great Sand Dunes National Park, a project that the nomination called “an extremely complicated mix of conservation science and public engagement.” The project involves evaluating multiple high elevation lakes and numerous miles of mainstem and tributary habitats for suitability in reintroducing Rio Grande cutts. The project could help provide an important additional refuge for the species in the face of rising temperatures and climate change.
Besides his project skills, Terry has a gift for connecting with people about the benefits of native fish and educating them in fun, creative ways. For example, he and partners launched a local Flyathlon event, an offbeat athletic competition that combines trail running with trout fishing and craft beer: what’s not to like? Each year, the race course follows a local stream that is the focus of native trout recovery, and raises funds for work such as trail-building or habitat restoration.
He also developed a colorful, fact-filled brochure and poster about Rio Grande cutthroat trout that was widely distributed in southern Colorado and New Mexico.
“Kevin’s enthusiasm for native trout is contagious, and he attacks all challenges with a fresh perspective and a can-do attitude,” said the award citation.
“It’s an honor to receive this award and to be recognized by my peers near and far,” said Terry. “I have been blessed by the opportunity to follow my heart in my life’s work. Working for an organization like Trout Unlimited has only fed the fire. The outstanding people and energy of this organization, from chapter members and volunteers to staff.”