Outstanding Victory,
Outstanding Waters

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Colorado's Clean Waters, Wild Forests

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Outstanding Waters

On June 10, 2014, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (CO WQCC) made a notable decision to protect headwater streams on wild, roadless forests in northwest Colorado. On a vote of 8-1, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission approved the highest degree of security for critical cutthroat trout streams near the towns of Carbondale, Meeker and Craig. Two hundred miles of pristine waters on the White River National Forest were given the highest degree of protection under the Clean Water Act.

The Outstanding water designation is granted only to the highest quality waters with ecological and recreational values and that require an elevated degree of protection.  Once designated, the water cannot be polluted. The pristine water provided by Colorado’s national forests is priceless and the forests themselves are highly valued for their ecological and recreational importance. Few places remain where Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat survives in its purest form.

Click on WildEarth Guardians’ proposals below.

In 2012, WildEarth Guardians proposed that the state of Colorado establish an insurance policy for its precious water supply, asking that the state designate some of its highest quality waters with native cutthroat trout as “Outstanding Waters.”

The CO WQCC voted for the designation of Outstanding Waters in the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basins (CO Water Quality Regulations #33 and #37). In particular, Cattle Creek and Thompson Creek and their tributaries in the Roaring Fork Basin near Carbondale; Snell and Lost Creek and their tributaries in the White River Basin near Meeker; and Beaver Creek and its tributaries in the Yampa River Basin near Craig.

Of particular value to Colorado’s anglers is the Colorado River cutthroat, which has been called one of the most spectacular species of cutthroat trout and one of the most beautiful fish in North America. The Colorado River cutthroat trout is now limited to 11% of its historic range, primarily in isolated, small headwater streams.

The waters proposed by WildEarth Guardians for Outstanding designation in their proposals is designated Critical Cutthroat Trout Habitat by the State of Colorado. 
The added protection is necessary because of ongoing activities authorized on the federal lands that impact cutthroat trout habitat, the inability of state agencies to regulate federal lands and trout habitat, as well as increasing pressure from climate change and drought.

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                                                                                                           photo credits: White River by WildEarth Guardians