Safari Club International
Often overlooked by the angler in pursuit of the 10 pounders that lay below the outlet works of many of the State’s dams is the impact that these structures have on the overall quality of aquatic habitat downstream. By altering the amount and pattern of flows in the river and cutting off the natural sediment load that would otherwise be transported through the river, dams often lead to poor downstream habitat. Such was the case for the Blue River below the Dillon Reservoir in Summit County.
The Blue River below Dillon Dam has long been one of the most productive and heavily fished stretches of water in the State. Never does a day go by, regardless of weather, without at least one angler trying to outwit the river’s wise fish. The problem with the heavily fished section directly below the dam was that quality habitat was limited and fishing pressures in the few good holes was fierce. “During the summer months people were faced with the choice of fishing shoulder to shoulder with other anglers or finding a different stream to fish”, said Barry Kirkpatrick, co-owner of Cutthroat Aanglers in Silverthorne.
Our primary goal for the project was to recreate prime trout habitat that would remain intact for at least a 50-year time period. With that in mind, we quickly realized this was not going to be a humble “rock-rolling” project. Dave Blauch from Environmental Resource Consulting (ERC), and a BFC member, completed the preliminary project design and prepared an estimated budget of $23SK which included cash, materials, and volunteer labor. The project plan called for significant bank restoration and protection, ten riffle, pool, glide sequences, 1,000 tons of boulders and cobble, 450 native shrubs and trees, 3,000 native grass plugs, 3,000 volunteer hours and the coordination of a dozen different organizations.