Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited takes fundraising banquet online | SkyHiNews.com

Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited takes fundraising banquet online

Sky-Hi News staff report
Trout Unlimited volunteers lead by Cyndie Saffell, center, plant willows for a project along a damaged riparian area on Ranch Creek in 2019.
Courtesy Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited

With this year’s banquet being canceled due to COVID-19, one of the Faser Valley’s largest annual social events designed to protect local rivers is going virtual.

In replacement of the annual banquet dinner, organizers are asking that people flow to a live auction this year while supporting local restaurants that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.

The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is doing this by offering people the opportunity to purchase a number of meals, take them home and enjoy a hearty dinner during Headwaters’ virtual live auction.

Group president Kirk Klancke said they decided to hold the “virtual banquet” to help out the local restaurants that have been so good to Headwaters, so the nonprofit won’t be making any money off meal sales this year.

“We’re dong this to help the restaurants that have helped us so much,” Klancke said, adding that he simply loves to see locals interested in Grand County’s rivers.

Even though COVID-19 has disrupted lives and put many projects and jobs on hold, the nonprofit’s mission to protect and restore the health of the rivers and streams that comprise the headwaters of the Colorado River remains unchanged. In fact, it’s more important than ever, Klancke said.

According to the group, Grand County’s rivers are the most heavily diverted in Colorado with 60% of the water leaving for Front Range cities. Even worse, what’s left — the remaining 40% — is inadequate to maintain stream health without extensive work, according to Headwaters.

All of the nonprofit’s work requires fundraising, efforts for which have been hurt by the social distancing required to fight the coronavirus. The group’s main source of income remains its annual banquet, which is also one of the county’s biggest social gatherings during normal years.

“For obvious reasons, we have canceled this year’s banquet, but we’re putting together a virtual event that will allow you to help the Headwaters Chapter, have some fun and take a break from the rigors of daily life,” the group said in a news release.

To accomplish this, Headwaters will hold an online silent auction and a live auction on Zoom. The online auction will start on July 13 — the week of national Trout Unlimited’s founding anniversary — and end on July 27, when Headwaters will hold the live auction via Zoom.

The auctions are a chance to support the healing of the headwaters of the Colorado River while shopping for interesting art items, jewelry, sports gear, guided fishing trips and much more. For more, go to http://www.coheadwaters.org. The Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited is based in Grand County.

“We don’t just talk about what needs to be done or what we’re going to do,” Klanke said via email, adding that Headwaters’ members roll up their sleeves and get things done.

The nonprofit has teamed up with Front Range water diverters, Grand County government and other West Slope water conservation organizations to repair both aquatic and riparian habitats.

For the aquatic habitat, Headwaters is working to configure streambeds to be properly sized with the diminished flows. Its first project was about one mile on the Fraser River and opened up a new public reach for fishing.

Headwaters has also planted over 7,000 willows to repair riparian stream reaches damaged by poor ranching practices.

“With a successful start, we are already in the process of moving more projects forward including reconnecting the Colorado River around Windy Gap Reservoir,” the group reports.

All of these projects are based on science and the local Headwaters chapter spends thousands of dollars each year to monitor stream temperatures, macroinvertebrate health and to conduct stream geomorphology and riparian health studies. The group also assists Colorado Parks and Wildlife with fish counts that help determine stream health, in addition to other education and outreach work.

“We need your help to continue our work,” the group added. “If shopping is not your thing, a direct donation to our work can be made at the same web address. This is also a good place to investigate the work that we do that is too extensive to list in a single news article.”

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