Volunteers working to make Armstrong Creek more livable for a dwindling species of trout
Credit: Scott Franz, Steamboat Today
Steamboat Springs — The last time Rick Henderson searched a 400-foot stretch of Armstrong Creek for Colorado River cutthroat trout, he found only two.
The creek restoration project is a collaboration of many state and local agencies. The partners include Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Routt County Conservation District, the city of Craig, Tri-State, Shell Oil, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (including the Yampa-White Basin Roundtable), and the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
"The normal density in this stretch would be about 50 fish or so," Henderson said as a team of volunteers behind him planted new willows along the banks of the creek deep in California Park that temporarily looked like a construction zone in the middle of pristine grasslands.
When all the digging, hammering and planting is done, Henderson, a fish biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, hopes he’ll be able to come back to the creek in picturesque northwestern Routt County and find more of the fish that scientists think currently inhabit only 14 percent of their historical range.
For that hope to come true, Mother Nature needs to lend a hand.
This month, about 700 feet of the creek was rerouted to improve the riparian habitat and give these fish more pools to frequent.
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