From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Seth Boster):
A new coalition aims to re-shape the way people think about Colorado’s Gold Medal fisheries while also rally support for preserving and expanding signature waters around the state.
The coalition is “still very much a work in progress,” said Scott Willoughby, the Colorado field organizer with Trout Unlimited. But the campaign called Colorado Gold has added muscle with dozens of major business partners that include Patagonia and Fishpond, along with angling groups and towns centered around the state’s streams and lakes with the sport’s greatest distinction.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages some 322 river miles and three lakes with Gold Medal designations, based on those locations producing “the highest quality cold-water habitats.” The designation is reserved for fisheries producing a variety of trout 14-plus inches.
“When we talk about these Gold Medal waters, people seem to associate them with trophy trout fishing,” Willoughby said. “I think it’s time we shift that thinking from trophy trout to trophy trout habitat.”
With the sport’s growing popularity, Trout Unlimited has identified over-fishing as one threat to those habitats. Colorado Gold has a bold mission to conserve enough habitat to merit a 30% increase in Gold Medal fishing waters by 2030.
Doing this “will help safeguard more Colorado fisheries while redistributing pressure on a currently limited resource,” reads a coalition statement. Colorado Gold’s website adds: “We can’t afford to simply sit back and watch (Parks and Wildlife) do all the heavy lifting.”
Bigger and hotter fires of recent years have been another threat to prized streams. In 2019, officials reported the 416 fire near Durango effectively killed 80% of the fish population along the Gold Medal Animas River…
“Obviously, (climate change) will take federal action, as well as local action,” Willoughby said. “That’s why it’s so important that we continue to broaden this coalition.”