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CPW, Pikes Peak Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Field Institute honored for balancing need to protect greenback with recreation interests in region
ASHINGTON – The Bear Creek Roundtable – a collaboration of about two dozen agencies including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Pikes Peak Ranger District on the Pike-San Isabel National Forests and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) – has been honored nationally for its collaboration to protect threatened greenback cutthroat trout in Bear Creek while responding to recreational demands of the Colorado Springs community.

On behalf of the roundtable, officials from CPW’s Southeast Region, the Ranger District and RMFI went to Washington on Nov. 15 to receive the U.S. Forest Service’s Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship Award. The USFS presents the award annually for excellence in aquatic resource management that results in meaningful changes in national forest service resource conditions.

CPW, the Ranger District and RMFI helped to lead the roundtable, which is a diverse collection of city, county, state and federal agencies, as well as recreation and conservation partners.

The roundtable’s work resulted in protection of the Bear Creek watershed and its prized and threatened greenback cutthroat trout, that live in a five-mile stretch of the creek, while carefully negotiating public access and weaving trails through the popular hiking and biking area in Bear Creek and Cheyenne Cañon on the southwest edge of Colorado Springs, a metro area of about 700,000 people.

Starting in 2008, the roundtable conducted 20 public meetings to brainstorm ideas that were submitted to the forest service to help shape a plan to provide for multiple use recreational opportunities and minimize threats to the species.

The roundtable produced a collaborative watershed assessment, removal of 20 tons of sediment, monitoring of the fish population, decommissioning and rerouting of 4.5 miles of trail outside of riparian areas, and storm-proofing of trails and roads.

“The Bear Creek Restoration Project is truly a collaborative effort that is meeting the challenge of finding that delicate balance to serve both conservation of native fish and recreational uses,” the Forest Service said in announcing the award.

Josh Nehring, CPW senior aquatic biologist in the Southeast Region, attended the awards banquet to present results of the roundtable’s work and accept the award on behalf of the state agency and the Bear Creek roundtable as a whole.

Former Pikes Peak District Ranger Alan Hahn called the roundtable the “best example I have seen of a collaborative, innovative and imaginative approach to meeting a complex management challenge.”

The other partners in the roundtable included the: City of Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Utilities U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service El Paso County Colorado Motorized Trail Riders Association Trail Preservation Alliance Colorado Mountain Club Friends of Cheyenne Cañon Friends of the Peak Palmer Land Trust Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates Pikes Peak Range Riders Sierra Club Trails and Open Space Coalition Trout Unlimited American Trail Running Association Aiken Audubon Society Catamount Institute Cavalier Trail Riding Club North American Trail Ride Conference.