Saying Goodbye to an Artist and Activist

By Daniel Smith It was Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who initiated Earth Day in 1970, the first national effort to focus on environmental issues. Later that year the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, to be followed by the Clean Air Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act; and the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act …

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Palmer Land Trust Assumes Stewardship of CB Ranch

By Ron Sering The revegetation of CB Ranch near Coaldale will continue through a stewardship agreement between the Colorado Springs-based Palmer Land Trust and the Security Water and Sanitation District. The 200-acre plot of land near Coaldale was acquired by the city of Security in 2013. Under terms of the acquisition, the Security Water and …

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Greenback Cutthroat Trout Update

By Tina Mitchell

In July, 2016, a lightning strike sparked the Hayden Pass Fire in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Within days, it had exploded into a 26-square-mile conflagration that forced area residents to evacuate. As they prepared to head out, firefighters raced in. Following close behind, a team of more than 30 specially trained wildlife staff and volunteers had one goal in mind – to save a fish from this fire. Not just any fish, but a genetically unique subspecies of greenback cutthroat trout found only in the South Prong of Hayden Creek, near Coaldale.

When they arrived at the lowest mile of the creek, the team found decent conditions. The fish were going about their ordinary pursuits. But for Greg Policky, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) aquatic biologist heading the rescue effort, the biggest concern wasn’t necessarily the fire itself but the potential after-effects such as flash flooding and sediments or ash inundating the stream. By the end of the day, the wildlife team had removed 196 greenbacks from the South Prong. The Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, between Gunnison and Crested Butte, took 158 of the fish. The remainder were released in Newlin Creek, a small stream in the Wet Mountains south of Cañon City. The team also left several hundred fish in the South Prong, hoping that any subsequent monsoon rains would spare the drainage so that these remaining fish could survive in their natural habitat.

Why put so much effort into the South Prong greenback cutthroat trout? Once widespread in the Arkansas and South Platte river drainages along the Front Range from Wyoming to New Mexico, the greenback subspecies of the cutthroat trout currently inhabits less than one percent of its historic range. Focusing on this one of the four subspecies of cutthroat trout found in Colorado, extensive genetic work in 2012 revealed that this native cutthroat subspecies now existed only in a four-mile stretch of a single stream – Bear Creek, along the eastern flank of Pikes Peak. This same genetic work revealed another surprise. The greenbacks in the South Prong of Hayden Creek – and now in the Roaring Judy hatchery and Newlin Creek – contain genes found in no other living fish. In fact, their genes match only two museum specimens in the Smithsonian Institution, collected in 1889 by ichthyologist David Starr Jordan from Twin Lakes, near Leadville. (See this column in the November, 2016, archive of Colorado Central at for more background on this subspecies.)

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Buy and Dry in Coaldale

By Ron Sering

Leaving Bighorn Sheep Canyon and heading west toward Coaldale, the first thing you notice are the fields. In the spring, enormous center pivots distribute runoff from the Sangres, turning the fields green with alfalfa. These fields have been worked since homesteaders arrived in the Pleasant Valley in the 1800s. That could soon be changing.

Among the largest ranches is the 160-acre CB Ranch near Coaldale. Assembled from various smaller holdings by Kansas cattleman Clint Branch, after his passing the property was put on the block, along with the senior water rights. The property was eventually purchased by the city of Security. “It seemed like a good fit,” said Roy Heald, District Manager of the Security Water and Sanitation District. 

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The Fremont Connection

Residents of Fremont County can now log on to a new community website for news, issues, opinions as well as cultural content and other items of interest.

Fremont Connection is the brainchild of Kristina Lins, Bob and Kay Parker, Dan Grenard and Gloria Stultz, who felt the county was not well enough served by the local media and decided to take matters into their own keyboards. The team has been working on the concept since last fall and launched the site in early April. The website is quickly gaining readership as well as contributors and offers a variety of content aimed at, but not exclusively for, Fremont County residents.

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