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A note on Cheesman Canyon

By now, we are sure most of you have heard about the flash flooding that occurred in the Cheesman Canyon section of the South Platte, and the damage to the river and trail that came along with it. Pat Dorsey, the Blue Quill's head guide, was in the canyon when the rains came – not surprising since he spends more time there than just about anyone else. From his reports and subsequent visit into the canyon, the damage that occurred was clear. Some have said that this is "not a big deal," or that this is "just nature" and that "everything will be fine." The reality of the situation is that these events have taken place in the past, and the river has taken years to recover. The most recent flooding/landslides are far worse than the previous ones. So, will the river be OK? Yes, but not without time and help. This section of the river contains naturally reproducing fish, and bug life that has taken decades to support the population of trout that live there.

A little explanation... During the trips into the canyon post flooding, no dead fish have been observed. This, however, is not surprising based on what happened in the past. The fish are agile and resilient; they can avoid much of the damage. The bugs however are less mobile, especially in their younger phases of life when they are living in the substrate (bottom of the river). This means that while the fish are fine for now, we will likely see the same effect as in the past: the bug life ceases to thrive in the river, and the fish lose their food source. They eventually get skinny, malnourished, and die. This is the long-term effect of what has happened.  

In the overall scheme of things, natural changes occur, and nature finds a way to heal itself. This process can take decades, if not generations, to get back to the level we saw the last few years. With all of this in mind, our stance at the Blue Quill is that we are "resting" the canyon. For the foreseeable future, we will not be running guide trips there. We will be helping people stay informed about what is happening and ways to help. The Cutthroat Chapter of Trout Unlimited has already begun taking volunteer sign-ups, and organizing with the U.S. Forest Service to get trails usable again. (Click here to sign up)

There may be some time before we can visibly see the difference in trout. But at the moment, we don't think they need any additional stress or pressure that may compound what they have coming without help.

We will keep you all posted when we have more updates.
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