| Multi-group collaboration spawns better fishing in Colorado
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Multi-group collaboration spawns better fishing in Colorado

A collaborative agreement among several water partners will increase flows and improve the health of stretches of the Fraser River in Grand County, Colorado, popular for recreational activities. 

Fly fishing on the Fraser River in ColoradoSeveral years of discussion and analysis led to the agreement, which stipulates that Colorado Water Trust, a nonprofit organization, will pay Grand County Irrigated Land Company (GCILC) to release water from the Meadow Creek Reservoir to increase flows in a section of the Upper Fraser River. This 10-mile stretch, between the cities of Winter Park and Tabernash, is a popular spot for fly fishing and an area where brown trout spawn in the fall. (Pictured right, fly fishing along the Fraser River.)

The water released from the reservoir will go to Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System. In exchange, Denver Water will divert about five cubic feet per second less water from the Jim Creek collection point. The Coca-Cola Company and Swire Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola’s distributor in the western United States) are funding the transaction.

Tony LaGrecaThe agreement is for one year, but all parties involved hope to extend the agreement as part of a long-term solution to increase Fraser River flows.

“Historically, the Upper Fraser River near Winter Park has seen low flows, particularly in August and September when resident trout are starting their fall spawning migration,” said Tony LaGreca, project manager for the Colorado Water Trust, in a press release. Since 2001, the nonprofit has restored nearly 21 billion gallons of water to 600 miles of Colorado’s rivers and streams by developing and implementing voluntary, water sharing agreements.  

“Boosting flows at this time can help those fish have successful spawning runs and keep this valuable recreational fishery healthy,” LaGreca said. “We are fortunate to have an excellent partner in GCILC and we look forward to working with them long into the future to keep the Fraser River flowing strong.”

Mike HolmesGCLIC, located in Granby, Colorado, operates an irrigation ditch that transports water to shareholders and leasing properties.

“By partnering with the Water Trust, GCILC hopes the releases of water from Meadow Creek Reservoir will, in a small way, help to mitigate the impacts to the watershed from the trans-mountain diversions, and be consistent with the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement,” said Mike Holmes, president of GCILC.

Nathan Elder“Water in Colorado is complex, and this project has a lot of different entities involved to make sure Denver Water is kept whole in terms of water,” said Nathan Elder, manager of water supply at Denver Water. “Denver Water has the infrastructure to make it happen, Grand County Irrigators brought the water and Colorado Water Trust brought the money. All those made it work together.”