Wyoming Trout Unlimited Fall 2020 Newsletter

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The Trout Tale WYOMING COUNCIL OF TROUT UNLIMITED

FALL 2020


PERSPECTIVE

Walt Gasson

Of love and loss... W

e all have waters we love, waters we know as intimately as a lover. We know them when they are bank-full and the color of strong tea in the spring. We know them when they are thin and clear as the very air we breathe in the sharpness of a fall morning. We know their riffles and eddies, we know the deep holes and the gravel bars. We know not only their fish that we seek, but their otters and herons and mink. We know the sounds of their voices and their very scent. We are part of these waters and they are part of us. One of the waters I love is near our home place. It’s been overrun this COVID summer with folks escaping crowded cities to go camp six socially distanced feet from someone else escaping a crowded city. But it is my home water, the water they bathed me in six decades ago, the water of my first fish and my first love. For the most part, it is not the water of big fish. It is the water of small brook trout descended from the cargo in Finis Mitchell’s milk cans. They run mostly less than eight inches in length. Little fish with tiny red spots and blue halos, far from their own home waters and never to return, they’re fun to catch on a three-weight rod. You can do it all day if you want to do that. But sometimes, especially in certain places at certain times, you can find big fish. And sometimes, probably by pure luck, I catch one and soon forget it. But the other day, I lost one that I will always remember. I had fished all morning, catching and releasing little ones that danced in the sunshine and fled on a beeline when I gently gave them back to the river. But at the lower end of the meadow, just above where the gradient gets steep and the water gets fast, there are deep holes. And in those deep holes — even in what passes for the heat of high summer at 9,000 feet — there are big fish. You have to stalk them. You can’t approach from land — they’ll see you every time in that gin-clear water. You have to approach from the far side of the creek, in the shadows of the Douglas firs. You have to do it quietly and slowly. If you do it right, you won’t have to cast far, but you will have to

cast accurately and mend quickly. And most of the time you will screw it up. There are a thousand opportunities to do that. But sometimes it works. And on that day, for whatever reason, it worked. The big rainbow came rocketing out of the deep water on the far side of a boulder. I saw him coming, and (miracle of miracles) I did not jerk the big terrestrial out of his mouth when he ate. My timing was right on the money, and when I set the hook I knew I had him. He knew it too, so he rolled to the right and dove for the depths in the same motion. The 4X tippet snapped, and he was gone forever. It was, as we say, not his first rodeo. I sat on the bank next to an old bank beaver den and reflected on that experience as my heart rate returned to a sustainable level. And I pondered the magic of loss, how in losing something so dear we can gain so much that is so much dearer still.

Walt Gasson is the Director of Trout Unlimited’s Endorsed Business program. He is a fourth generation Wyoming native and has worked in conservation for over 40 years in government, non-profits and the private sector. Walt currently resides in Laramie with his beautiful wife, Kim.

Always in style on the river or around town. The famous bucking fish hat from Wyoming Trout Unlimited! Choose your favorite style and color for only $20 (plus $5 shipping). Go to wyomingtu.org and click on the WYTU Store tab! As always, all proceeds benefit our efforts to conserve, protect and restore Wyoming’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. Thank you for your support!

FALL 2020

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THE TROUT TALE


The official newsletter of the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited

The Trout Tale Fall 2020 • Volume 6, Issue 2

The Trout Tale is a quarterly newsletter of the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited. The deadline for submission of articles, information, photos and content for the Winter 2021 newsletter (January, February, March) will be December 1, 2020. Send any and all contributions for the winter issue to Wyoming Coordinator Mike Jensen at: mike.jensen@tu.org. The Trout Tale is available online at the council’s website at: wyomingtu.org © 2020 Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited

• Mike Jensen, Newsletter Editor • Cole Sherard, Chair

Proud recipient of the 2014 Trout Unlimited “Bollinger Award For Best Newsletter”

Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited P.O. Box 22182 Cheyenne, WY 82009 e-mail: mike.jensen@tu.org Phone: 307.421.3188 www.wyomingtu.org

ON THE COVER: A colored-up brown trout is released back into the cold, clear autumn waters of Wyoming. Photo by Rick Slagowski, Upper Bear River TU Chapter

FROM THE COORDINATOR

Mike Jensen

COVID-19 challenges Before I jump into a hodgepodge of Wyoming Trout Unlimited information, tidbits and stuff, I must offer this heartfelt thought right out of the gate. I hope each of you, your family, your friends and your acquaintances are all healthy and safe.

All of us continue to live our lives with the COVID-19 virus still very much in the picture. While my daily routine is pretty much the same, I’ve had to get used to having an additional item in my pile of essentials. Truck keys. Check. Phone. Check. Sunglasses. Check. Chap Stick. Check. Gum. Check. Oh yeah. Mask. Check. COVID-19 has certainly had an impact in one way or another on our personal and professional lives. For Wyoming Trout Unlimited, it has affected us for a good part of this year. The council and most of our chapters have had to cancel a majority of our in-person gatherings and fundraising events around the Cowboy State. Needless to say, it’s been disappointing not being able to see and connect with our chapter leaders, members and conservation partners. It’s also put a real damper on our ability to fundraise for our projects, programs and conservation work around the Cowboy State. Recently, after talking with several staff members in Wyoming as well as various chapter leadership, I presented my recommendation to the WYTU executive committee that we cancel our annual fall council meeting scheduled for Oct. 23, 24 and 25 in Cody. With case numbers continuing to spike around Wyoming, along with TU COVID-19 guidelines, it was the right thing to do. It’s not what we wanted to do, but again, it’s the right thing to do. With that said, we will be conducting our annual fall council meeting via Zoom call on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 7 to 9 p.m., and Thursday, Oct. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. I will be sending out an agenda and all related material prior to the Zoom call for folks to review before the meetings. If you are interested in attending the Zoom council meeting, please contact me immediately so I can make sure you receive all of the appropriate material and Zoom invite.

On the good news front, I’m pleased to announce that we have been working to bring the Trout in the Classroom program to Wyoming and our first class will be Jenna Krul’s 6th grade science class at Torrington Middle School. This is a great program and will provide a lot more students around Wyoming the opportunity to participate in this outstanding educational program. A big thanks to Cory Toye and Cathy Purves for their valuable help with program logistics, implementation and grant applications. Thanks, too, to Alan Osterland and Guy Campbell of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for their support.

Kudos to Chris Hayes, who works at Two Rivers Fly Fishing Co. in Pinedale. Chris has stepped up to get the Upper Green River TU Chapter up and going in the right direction. He organized a great open house in mid-September and more than two-dozen people attended the event at the fly shop. Keep up the See COORDINATOR REPORT on page 5

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THE TROUT TALE


PROTECT

By Brett Prettyman

A win-win for community and TU By BRETT PRETTYMAN Communications Director for Science, Western Water & Habitat and Headwaters Program

Nick and Hilary Walrath have learned not to be surprised by Wyoming snowstorms in September, but even they were caught off guard by the cold front that hit their hometown of Green River this year. “The temperature dropped 25 to 30 degrees while we were covering our garden. We knew it was going to be a big one,” Nick Walrath said about the epic storm that hit the western Wyoming town on Sept. 7 and left late the next day after toppling trees with 80 mph winds, a solid six inches of snow and a path of destruction in its wake. When he ventured outside at first light on Sept. 8, Walrath was a little surprised, but quite relieved, that their home had not been damaged in the hurricane force winds.Ê Others in their community were not so lucky. “Power was out everywhere, and trees were laying on homes, apartment complexes, buildings and cars all over town,” he said. “The city was just devastated. It was crazy”. Across town Brad Raney was also out viewing the destruction and trying to figure out how the city was going to deal with all the downed trees and who might be able to help remove them. Nick Walrath came to mind. “I called him and asked if he wanted some trees,” said Raney, who serves as the Green River Parks and Recreation Director. “It was as simple as that.” Walrath, who works for Trout Unlimited as the Green River Project Manager, has been coordinating with Raney on a plan to restore eroding riverbank in a city park. The project requires trees — lots of trees.Ê The project at FMC Park along a stretch of the Green River known as Scott’s Bottom wasn’t scheduled to get going until the fall of 2021, but Walrath recognized he could supply needed materials for the restoration work and help his community clean up damage done by the

An epic, early September storm hit Green River on Sept. 7 and left a wake of destruction, power outages, six inches of snow and toppled trees throughout the community. However, those downed trees will now be put to use saving the city money and stabilizing the banks of the Green River at FMC Park. WYTU Photos/Nick Walrath, Green River Project Manager

storm. Walrath was able to secure the services of Longhorn Construction to start removing trees and hauling them to a holding area.ÊAs it turns out, the trees toppled in the storm will also be a better fit for the restoration work.Ê “These are three or four times the size of trees I normally get for projects and they still have the root balls attached,” Walrath said. “The trunk is key for securing the tree in the bank while the root ball will be in the river providing habitat and bank stabilization.” They don’t have an exact count yet — around 60 — but Walrath believes the trees gathered primarily from the city cemetery and other locations around Green River will be enough to complete the Scott’s Bottom Project.Ê “The hardest hit place in all of the city was the cemetery. There were many 100-year-old spruce trees,” Raney said. “I would describe myself as highly unemotional, but walking through the cemetery and seeing all of the destruction was an emotional experience”. Raney told Walrath what TU and the contractor did in a week at the cemetery likely would have taken the limited crew he has available two months to complete. The city crew was able to focus on other critical areas and

the town of Green River saved money as well.Ê “It was either a coincidence or miracle depending on how you look at it,” Raney said about the planned project. “This partnership was a win all the way around. It saved the city money and time, parks — including the cemetery — returned to normal sooner. It should also reduce the overall cost of the project proposed by Trout Unlimited.” FMC is a popular 637-acre city park with a playground, picnic areas, archery range and access to the Greenbelt Pathway. It is a place Nick and Hillary often See EPIC STORM on page 9

ABOVE RIGHT: The Green River Cemetery was the hardest hit place in town. Many 100-year-old spruce trees were destroyed after the 80 mph winds ripped them from the ground, root ball and all. LEFT: FMC Park in Green River is where many of the blown down trees will end up. They will be used to stabilize the bank from erosion as well as to provide fish habitat.

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COORDINATOR REPORT from page 3 great work, Chris. You have the council’s full support in your efforts to make the Upper Green River TU Chapter viable once again.

OUR MISSION: Conserving, protecting and restoring Wyoming’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds

n n n n n n n n

WYOMING COUNCIL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Cole Sherard Laramie...................................................Chair Kathy Buchner Jackson..........................................Vice Chair Sadie St. Clair-Valdez Green River......................................Secretary Jim Hissong Mountain View.................................Treasurer Werner Studer Casper............................NLC Representative Dave Sweet Cody...................................At Large Member John Madia Sheridan.............................At Large Member Mike Jensen Cheyenne...................Council Coordinator

WYOMING CHAPTERS AND AEG’s: n Casper/Grey Reef n Curt Gowdy n East Yellowstone n Jackson Hole n Laramie Valley n Little Bighorn n Platte Valley n Popo Agie Anglers n Seedskadee n Upper Bear River n Upper Green River n Adiposse (AEG) (Alternative Engagement Group)

To join Trout Unlimited today, go to tu.org and click on the “I want to become a member” link

FALL 2020

Don’t forget, there are plenty of tickets available for our big “classic” Sage fly rod and Abel reel giveaway! This unique rod and reel package is valued at over $6,700 and winner takes all! These are new rods and reels. There are five Sage rods (3 wt., 5 wt., 7 wt., 9 wt. and 11 wt.) and five Abel reels (one with two extra spools) up for grabs. Tickets are available from any of the executive council members or from your local chapter. You can purchase one ticket for $50, or three for $100. Of course, all proceeds raised from this raffle will go toward our conservation efforts in Wyoming. We’ll draw the big winner on December 11 (talk about a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer). For more information, look on page 10 of this newsletter for complete details. If you have any questions or would like to purchase tickets online, give me a call at (307) 421-3188 or drop me an e-mail at: mike.jensen@tu.org. Thanks for supporting the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited.

Since our next newsletter won’t come out until January 1, 2021, I’d like to pass along the council’s best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas and a much, much better and healthy New Year in 2021! Until then, I hope you have an incredible autumn season. In my opinion, it’s the best time of the year. Mother Nature does her finest work in the fall. I also hope you have the opportunity to get outside and do some valuable social distancing on one of Wyoming’s great waterways. And, oh yeah, make sure you get out and vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Stay safe.Stay healthy. Mike Jensen is the Wyoming Council Coordinator for Trout Unlimited and is based in Cheyenne. When he’s not at his desk, puttering around the yard with the dogs or tying a few flies, you can rest assured he’s driving his driftboat somewhere in search of big Wyoming trout.

“Clean the Green” campaign to continue through fall season along river corridor The Clean The Green 2020 trash pickup campaign that began this spring, continues to gain momentum and participation. Trout Unlimited members, families, guides and outfitters, Trout Unlimited chapters, the Wyoming and Utah Trout Unlimited councils, other organizations and NGOs, as well as the members of the public from Wyoming and Utah have participated in the volunteer trash pickup along the famous Green River in Wyoming and Utah. The campaign was initiated to celebrate the Green River from its headwaters in the beautiful Wind River mountains of Wyoming to the confluence with the Colorado River in Utah by cleaning up during outdoor trips and outings. So the next time you’re out fishing, hiking

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or recreating on the Green River, make sure to pick up trash, take a photo(s) and post them on social media outlets using #CleantheGreen2020 to be eligible for some great monthly prizes. Thanks to those who have already participated in the program by picking up trash. Thanks, too, to our great group of sponsors who have provided some outstanding prizes. They include Camp Chef, the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited, Two Rivers Fishing Co., the Utah Council of Trout Unlimited, the Seedskadee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Spinner Fall Guide Service, Holiday River Expeditions, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish for Garbage, Wind River Outdoor Company and more.

THE TROUT TALE


PROTECT

By Dave Sweet

Recently installed steel jack fencing is pictured along a meadow stretch of Solider Creek in the Big Horn National Forest located in north central Wyoming. This project is a great example of multiple conservation partners and agencies coming together to protect native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. WYTU Photo/Tasha Sorensen

Soldier Creek project a joint effort By DAVE SWEET East Yellowstone Chapter board member and project volunteer

phase was a major project over two weeks and was accomplished with volunteers from both chapters, TU staff, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WYGF) personnel, USFS personnel and the permittee. Financial support was obtained by the sale of a Commissioner’s Big Game Hunting License from Commissioner Peter Dube. During 2020 the same partners took on the next phase of the project, erecting 3000 linear feet of steel jack fence on both sides of a 1500 foot

There are very few remaining native Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations left in the Big Horn National Forest in north central Wyoming. One that still exists, however, is in a small tributary of Paint Rock Creek known as Soldier Creek. Somehow it has survived the onslaught of invasive brook trout common in other area streams. The population is robust (about 2000 trout per mile in very remote areas), but is threatened by over-grazing in its most accessible reaches along USFS Road 24. Both domestic livestock and wildlife have destroyed bank integrity and have essentially eliminated willows and other forbs that provide cooling temperatures and overhead cover. A few years ago, members of the East Yellowstone Trout Unlimited Chapter and the Little Bighorn Trout Unlimited Chapter joined forces at the urging of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Big Horn National Forest to “adopt” this meadow section. The first phase of the project in 2018 and 2019 was to reconstruct the livestock exclusion fence on the outer perimeter of the grazing allotment. Over a mile of fence was built during this phase and gives the permittee a “tool” to use to keep his grazing occupancy within United States Forest Service (USFS) guidelines. This

THE TROUT TALE

See SOLDIER CREEK on page 7

Volunteer Dave Sweet uses his Bobcat to haul tons of steel rails from the road to the stream side for fence installation. WYTU Photo/ John Madia

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SOLDIER CREEK from page 6 reach of the riparian area. This fence will exclude both cattle and wildlife ungulates from the riparian area, giving the forbs a chance to rebound. The fence can be moved to a new reach after forb regeneration. The same partners were joined by R&M Welding employees (the fence builder) on September 9-10. Together they completed the project in 15 hours (approximately 375 man-hours). Three skid steers aided the effort as around 200,000 pounds of material was transported the 10 miles of backcountry roads and then shuttled down and staged along the creek. The fence was then assembled by the partners much like tinker toys, which will allow the fence to be disassembled and moved after the forbs recover. The next phase of the project, scheduled for Spring 2021, is to jumpstart the willow growth within the steel jack fence by transplanting willow shoots and potted willows. The relative growth and survival of the two sources of willows will be monitored to guide future willow planting. This project is a great example of how TU volunteers and staff from around the state can cooperate both with each other and with various agencies and private interests to “Conserve, Protect, and Restore” our coldwater resources here in Wyoming. Above Right: R&M Welding, Inc., of Rock Springs, Wyoming, built and delivered the steel jack fence using two semi-trucks and three additional flatbed trailers like the one pictured. Materials were then transferred from the forest road to the stream side using three skid steer loaders. R&M employees were also instrumental in helping to install the fence. Right: A special thanks to Ten Sleep Brewing Co. in Ten Sleep for providing cold refreshment after the day’s work was done. WYTU Photo/Mike Jensen

Below: Volunteers and agency partners did aan incredible job of installing the steel-jack fence along a stretch of Soldier Creek. WYTU Photo/John Madia

Right: At the end of the day, isn’t this what it’s all about — a pure strain native Yellowstone cutthroat trout? The work being done by conservation partners will help ensure a bright future for these fish in the Big Horn mountains. WYTU Photo/Tasha Sorensen

Over 3,000 linear feet of steel jack fencing was built, delivered and installed in September along this meadow stretch of Soldier Creek in the Big Horn Mountains. Next year, willow shoots and potted willows will be planted along the creek to further enhance the habitat for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. WYTU Photo/John Madia

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THE TROUT TALE


CHAPTER HIGHLIGHT

Seedskadee Chapter

Despite challenges, Seedskadee Chapter continues successful year in southwest Wyoming If you have never watched any of Fly Fish Food’s You Tube videos, we definitely recommend checking them out.

By SADIE ST. CLAIR-VALDEZ Seedskadee Chapter President

T

he Seedskadee Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) has been busy and going with the flow since last fall and winter. We started off strong with a fly tying event, followed by our annual F3T (film tour) fundraiser. We also had special guest speakers, projects and a youth scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our annual Women’s Float that was scheduled to take place in September as we couldn’t figure out how to make it safe for all during these challenging times with COVID-19. But through all of the changes and challenges, we’ve had a successful summer so far. Here’s a rundown of our chapter’s activities this year.

On May 28, we planted over 230 trees in the Greater Little Mountain Area of southwest Wyoming in one day with just nine dedicated volunteers. Seedskadee TU Chapter President Sadie St.ClairValdez and Nick Walrath, TU’s Green River project manager for the Western Water and Habitat Program, organized the effort. These trees will help reinforce stream banks and create shade along streams that hold native Colorado River cutthroat trout.

At the beginning of this year, Downtown Rock Springs and the URA started a recurring event that takes place every second Saturday of each month in the downtown district, shops, stores, and outdoor venues. With it still being winter outside, we brought all of our fly tying materials down to tie flies with the public while they enjoyed drinking craft beer at Square State Brewing. We had a great crowd as people came and went while taking part in the other activities provided that day.

Coalition partners showed Wyoming Gov. Gordon and his team important fish and wildlife habitat project sites around the landscape and introduced them to local TU chapter President Sadie St.Clair-Valdez, TU Green River Project Manager Nick Walrath, local rancher Jackson Ramsay, Wyoming Game and Fish Habitat Biologist Kevin Spence, Dr. Kevin Monteith of the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and local business owner Dan Stanton at various stops along the way. “It was a pleasure to see the area and its wildlife, and to hear from local sportsmen, a local rancher, and others about their passion for this place,” Gordon said. “Wyoming takes pride in the responsible stewardship of our land and resources and I expect to see the Bureau of Land Management honor the local input they received.”

Our chapter has hosted the F3T for seven years now as our annual fundraiser. Each year, the amount of money raised continues to grow, along with the number of supporters. For 2020, there were over 200 people present with many prizes given away and we raised over $10,000! Thank you to Square State Brewing, Teton Distributors and other breweries for providing us with free beer to serve and Sweet Water Smoke for serving amazing barbecue. We also could not have put this event on without our very own chapter members and the Green River High School Fishing Club volunteering their time on a Friday evening.

To celebrate the beginning of summer activities, we offered a socially distant picnic dinner plus a casting clinic taught by Mike Brown, owner of Wyoming Embroidery & Sporting Goods in Green River. We had about eight families with varying skills casting a fly rod making

At the beginning of March, we had the pleasure to tie flies with “Uncle Cheech.” Cheech took the time to teach us how to tie the Drunk Drea and Complex Twist Bugger along with the lovely Sculpin Toad pattern.

THE TROUT TALE

See SEEDSKADEE CHAPTER on page 9

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SEEDSKADEE CHAPTER from page 8

it a fun evening for all to share their love for this great sport. Prizes were also given away to those who participated in a distance casting challenge.

NEWS NOTES Popo Agie Anglers elect new chapter president

Every year, we partner with the Green River Chamber of Commerce for a fish board decorating contest. Participants pick up a blank board shaped like a fish, decorate it however they choose, and return it to the chamber for the public to vote for their favorite during the River Festival. This year we switched voting to online at the chamber’s Facebook page and in person at the Visitor Center from Aug. 6 through 15. There were 16 entries this year. First place went to ACE Hardware, second place was awarded to Arnold Family Chiropractic, and third place went to Trona Valley FCU.

Members of the Popo Agie Anglers in Lander gathered in early September to hold chapter elections as well as talk about ideas and plans moving forward. John Burrows was elected as the new president and will replace outgoing president Nate Rastatter, who will be moving out of state in early December. A special thanks to Nate for his leadership as president and everyone with Wyoming Trout Unlimited wish him and his family nothing but the best moving forward.

Following state regulations for COVID on social distancing, we offered families a scavenger hunt to collect fly fishing flies from 11 different businesses located in downtown Rock Springs. Families were able to pick up their clues and a fly box from our booth next to the yellow caboose, collect a fly from each business after finding the ‘hidden’ item, and return to us to pick out prizes and enter to win great fly fishing gear. With the help from our chapter volunteers, Robin Robinson from Wyoming Lady Anglers and Mike Jensen with Wyoming Trout Unlimited, we had 35 excited families complete the hunt.

Upper Green River Chapter hosts open house to spark new interest in chapter The Upper Green River Trout Unlimited Chapter in Pinedale recently held an open house at the Two Rivers Fly Fishing Co. on Sept. 17. The event was the idea of Chris Hayes, who manages the fly shop. He has also stepped forward to take a leadership role in trying to revitalize and jump start the local TU chapter. “I’m making a big push for all of our guides, shop staff and local customers to get involved with Trout Unlimited,” Hayes said. “I think it’s time we had a voice for the rivers here that be heard.” The open house was a success as more than two-dozen people attended the event that featured burgers, hot dogs and frosty beverages. In addition, a whole lot of great door prizes were given away to those on hand. Thanks to Two Rivers Fly Fishing Co., Wyoming Trout Unlimited and Orvis for their support and donations. According to Hayes, the chapter will be holding its next meeting soon and encourages chapter members and new prospective members to follow the chapter on social media and watch for more details as they become available.

Our very own Nick Walrath proposed a great idea to the chapter last spring that has developed into a drainage wide event. We are running a yearlong campaign to get folks to pick up trash when they are out enjoying our beloved Green River, tributaries and reservoirs. Celebrate the Green River from its headwaters in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming to the confluence with the Colorado River in Utah by cleaning up during your trips. Post it on social media with #CleantheGreen2020 and be eligible for some terrific prizes. Prizes are given away each month from various organizations such as Two Rivers Fishing Company, Utah Council of Trout Unlimited, Fish for Garbage, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Wind River Outdoor Company, Seedskadee Chapter, Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited and other sponsors.

Mariah Nystrom and Chris Hayes worked hard at the grill during the Upper Green River Chapter Open House on Sept. 17. WYTU Photo/Mike Jensen

EPIC STORM from page 4

take their two young daughters. A bridge upstream of the park causes unique downstream currents, putting the bridge at risk and causing severe erosion issues along the river in the park. Experts estimate roughly 1,600 tons, or 100 dump trucks, of sediment fall into the river each year at the park.Ê “The bridge and the walking path along the Green will be compromised if nothing is done,” Walrath said.Ê In addition to bank stabilization at FMC Park, the project includes a new boat ramp, giving people another access point for floating the Green and will also provide better fish habitat. “It is really sad what happened to all the big trees in town and the damage the storm caused,” Walrath said. “I’m just glad we were able to be a part of the cleanup effort and

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take advantage of the opportunity to reuse the trees for this important project.” Raney plans to take advantage of the new habitat and boat ramp created along FMC Park in the coming years. Knowing intimate details of the Scott’s Bottom project will likely bring a smile to his face when floating past the site.Ê “I’m not much of a fisherman, but I will most definitely spend some time fishing in the area when the project is complete,” he said. “It will be especially meaningful to me to know where each of the trees came from to provide new fish habitat and protecting a beloved park.” Brett Prettyman is a communications director for Trout Unlimited. He is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

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THE TROUT TALE


WYOMING TROUT UNLIMITED IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE...

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f r — ish od A i f tro from ng e or e ut s xp ver to ma eri y bi ll en g T st c ar rea e po m n!

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.................................................. ............................................. ALL PROCEEDS RAISED FROM THIS SWEEPSTAKES will go toward Wyoming Trout Unlimited’s mission to conserve, protect and restore Wyoming’s coldwater fisheries and its watersheds! WINNER TAKES ALL! SWEEPSTAKES TICKETS: 1 for $50 or 3 for $100. Purchase your tickets online via the Wyoming Trout Unlimited website at: www.wyomingtu.org. Click on the donate button and follow the instructions on how to purchase your sweepstakes ticket(s), or contact any WYTU executive committee member and purchase from them. It’s that easy! Drawing will be held Dec. 11, 2020.

.................................................. .................. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT MIKE JENSEN AT 307.421.3186 OR E-MAIL HIM AT: mjensen@tu.org PO Box 22182 • Cheyenne, WY 82003 www.wyomingtu.org • www.tu.org Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO WIN. Must be 18 years of age to participate. Send your free ticket request in letter format to the address shown above. A ticket will be sent to those who request one. Only one free ticket will be available to those requesting one. Sweepstakes grand prize will be given away to one lucky winner on December 11, 2020 (earlier if possible depending upon ticket sales). Wyoming Trout Unlimited Sweepstakes not open to residents of New York. Thank you for your support of Trout Unlimited in Wyoming!

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RECONNECT

By Bryce Powell

Tri-Basin volunteers gather together for fish passage By BRYCE POWELL TU Snake River Headwaters Conservation Intern On the morning of September 26, a caravan of volunteers made their way through the driving rain and falling leaves to the newly constructed Shale Creek Bridge on the Upper Greys River. Despite the long drive into the Tri-Basin area and cold, wet weather, the group came together on Wyoming Public Lands Day to plant hundreds of willows and put the finishing touches on a longstanding Trout Unlimited (TU) project to reconnect stream habitat for cutthroat trout and other native fish species in the upper reaches of the Greys River watershed. At the convergence of the Salt River Range and the Wyoming Range, the Tri-Basin Divide provides crucial habitat for Wyoming’s native cutthroat trout. Within a few miles, populations of Snake River, Bonneville and Colorado River subspecies of cutthroat trout inhabit the Columbia River, Great Basin and Colorado River drainages. This unique biogeographical location is of interest for many anglers looking for a Wyoming “CuttSlam” and provides fish refuge from habitat loss and degradation. On this particular lateSeptember morning, TU Freshly planted willows and amateur landscapers at the new members from the Jackson Hole, Star Valley and Seedskadee Mink Creek culvert. chapters joined US Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department employees to bury bundles of willow cuttings in the recently-restored banks of the Greys River. As the rain fell and moistened the ground, more than a dozen pairs of gloves cut, dug and planted. In a few years, these willows will help prevent the erosion of the project area, stabilize sod patches and provide cover for hungry cutthroat trout. The heart of the multi-phased project was the removal of an undersized culvert on the Greys River and its replacement with a bridge in August of 2020. Where fast-moving water once dropped into a scouring plunge pool now lies a riffle navigable to all sizes and species of native fish. Elsewhere on the Greys River, three undersized culverts identified by the BridgerTeton National Forest as fish passage barriers were replaced by larger, fish-

The Greys River passes through the new Shale Creek bridge at a former barrier to fish passage. friendly culverts. These improvements allow native fish to utilize the range of habitats needed to create thriving and resilient fish populations. Combined, these projects reconnect and restore 21.3 stream miles and measurably improve water quality throughout the Greys River. With winter approaching rapidly in Wyoming’s high country, the willow cuttings and replaced culverts will soon be buried under a blanket of snow, invisible to the few winter visitors to the Tri-Basin Area. As fly tying season comes and goes, willow roots will continue to grow, and the TriBasin Fish Passage and Watershed Restoration Project will improve one of Wyoming’s most unique fisheries. Our shared public lands will continue to be a special place for fish and anglers alike, thanks to the help of TU volunteers and the following collaborators: the Bridger-Teton National Forest, US Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage Program, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, Patagonia World Trout, Star Valley Trout Unlimited, TU-Orvis Embrace-A-Stream Program and Challenge, the Trout and Salmon Foundation and Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Right: The revegetation team digs and plants willow cuttings downstream of the new bridge.

Trout Unlimited photos by Leslie Steen, NW Wyoming Program Director Left: Volunteers and agency partners gather together for a Wyoming Public Lands Day photo after lunch.

FALL 2020

11

THE TROUT TALE



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