July 8, 2008

Trout Unlimited Boosts Fish in Canon City

By Chris Woodka, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

Jul. 8--Trout Unlimited is trying to raise money to improve fish habitat on the Arkansas River through Canon City.

The Southern Colorado Greenback Chapter is trying to complete fundraising for the $20,000 project, which will create weirs, "J-hooks" and boulder clusters on the Arkansas River between Ninth Street and Raynolds Avenue in Canon City, said Ted Sillox, project coordinator.

"It's like the work that was done in Pueblo, but on a smaller scale," Sillox said.

Between 170-250 boulders weighing 1.5 to 2 tons each will be put in the river, a relatively flat stretch that flows for about 2 miles through the heart of Canon City. The project is scheduled to get under way in November and is being developed under the direction Greg Policky, aquatic biologist for the Division of Wildlife, and Pete Gallagher of Fin Up Habitat Consultants.

"There's not much cover in that portion of the river," Policky said. "There's not many fish and the in-stream cover should help hold the fish. There will also be more cover toward the banks with the J-hooks. The goal is to have more fish and bigger fish. That's why this project's so important." In Pueblo, the Whitewater Park for kayakers Downtown doubles as a fish ladder, and clusters of boulders between the kayak course and Pueblo Dam provide additional shelter for fish.

By breaking the flows of the river, habitat for the aquatic insects that fish eat also improves.

"The Arkansas River through Canon City could be great for fishing, especially winter fishing," Sillox said. "There are fewer fish per mile, but they're bigger fish."

The project would be downstream from a proposed kayak park at Centennial Park in Canon City and the fundraising effort is separate. Canon City is finishing designs for the kayak park, which has an estimated cost of about $250,000.

So far, Canon City Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District has contributed $10,000 to the downstream fishery project, while Trout Unlimited has kicked in $5,000. The Collegiate Peaks and Cheyenne Mountain chapters each contributed $1,500. The Southern Colorado Greenback Chapter contributed $1,000 and obtained a grant for $1,000 from Colorado Trout Unlimited.

To raise the additional $5,000 needed to purchase boulders, the group is selling chances for guided trips on the Arkansas River by Royal Gorge Anglers, as well as other prizes. Angler's Addiction, a Pueblo business, also is helping with the fundraising effort. The drawing will be Sept. 11.

"This is pretty exciting for us," Sillox said. "Our chapter really has never done anything like this before. It's a good project and a lot of people have come together to support it."

For information, contact Sillox at 647-2369 or 546-4126, or Pat McGraw, president of the Southern Colorado Greenback Chapter, 566-6834.


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