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May 2019

Play It Safe on the Poudre this Summer!

By News

As the Colorado snowpack starts to melt and rivers and streams across the state begin to rise, its important to remember to Play It Safe on the Poudre!

The Cache la Poudre River offers many miles of incredible recreational opportunities – the scenic river runs from mild (class I-II) to wild (class V), attracting people from around the country to its beautiful waters. However, most people do not understand the dangers that exist while recreating on the river.

The Poudre River presents numerous hazards. Broken or low-hanging tree branches, hidden beneath the water, can snag a person out for a lazy afternoon tubing trip. Freezing waters made cold by spring runoff can cause a person to react slowly, when quicker action is needed, or possibly suffer hypothermia. And deceptively fast-moving waters pose a drowning risk to even the most experienced swimmers.

“The Poudre River is a source of local pride that draws thousands to its waters each year. We wouldn’t dissuade peoples’ love for it and what it represents. But the river is equal parts beautiful and destructive. Its power is easy to underestimate, and river-related tragedy can befall anyone at any time,” said former Poudre Fire Authority spokeswoman Madeline Noblett.

The Play It Safe on the Poudre program raises awareness about approaches to recreating on the river in safe and sustainable ways, and helps to build the capacity of the Poudre Fire Authority and Larimer County rescue teams. The program also calls attention to the history of in-river structures that represent hazards to recreation.

Play It Safe on the Poudre principles:

  1. Wear a life vest
    • Use proper floatation devices
    • Wear shoes
    • Wear a helmet
    • Don’t tie anything to yourself or your tubes
  2. Safe to go?
    • Know the weather and water conditions
    • The water is melted snow – it’s always cold!
    • Avoid rocks, branches, logs and debris in the river
  3. Know where you are
    • Take a map
    • Plan your take-out location before you get in the river
  4. Float sober, float safe
    • Alcohol and drugs impair judgement
  5. Be Courteous
    • Pack it in; Pack it out
    • Share the river
  6. What if you flip?
    • Don’t stand up in the river; avoid foot entrapment
    • Float on your back with feet pointing downstream and toes out of the water
    • Use your arms to paddle to shore


Download a River Access and Safety Map



Other representatives who have taken part in the group’s efforts represent: Poudre Fire Authority; multiple departments within the City of Fort Collins, including the city’s Natural Areas Department; Larimer County; the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Larimer County Emergency Services; Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and more.

For more info please visit

In Memory of William “Bill” Fischer

By News
Bill Fischer

In memory of William “Bill” Fischer

The Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) staff, Board of Directors, and the Northern Colorado water community as a whole is mourning the loss of William “Bill” Fischer, who passed on May 7, 2019, after a brief illness.

Fischer, an attorney, had recently retired from the firm Fischer, Brown, Bartlett & Gunn, P.C., in Fort Collins. In his law practice, he represented mutual ditch and reservoir companies, municipalities, water users associations, water districts and individual water users.

Bill was a supporter of the PHA’s and the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA). He also served on several boards related to natural resources, water rights and water quality issues in Northern Colorado, including the Water Quality Advisory Committee of the Larimer-Weld Council of Governments, the Natural Resources Advisory Board for the City of Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Water Board.

Bill’s life will be celebrated at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 20, at Windsong Estate Event Center, 2901 Saddler Blvd., Fort Collins. Memorials are to the United Way of Larimer County or the charity of the donor’s choice.

Mothers Day

4 Fun Mother’s Day Adventures in the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area

By News
Take your mom on a Mother’s Day adventure she will never forget! (Photo by  Gabriele Woolever)


Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mommas out there! It’s a wonderful time of year in Northern Colorado to get outside and enjoy the outdoors as a family. The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) has some incredible natural, cultural and historical resources that make a Mother’s Day Adventure possible for the entire family.

Check out some of the ideas we have put together for your family this Mother’s Day:

  1. Bike the Poudre Trail! PHA’s Pedaling the Poudre program has some great self-guided routes that are appropriate for all skill levels!
  2. Get wet in the river or take a stroll down the Poudre Trail, while remembering to Play It Safe.
  3. Head to Picnic Rock for a beautiful family lunch on the river.
  4. Take mom to River Bluffs Open Space for a nature hike and some birding. Bring your binoculars! The Poudre River Trail at River Bluffs Open Space connects to 21 beautiful miles of trail running southeast through wildlife areas and parks.


About Poudre Heritage Alliance
The goal of the Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) is through interpretive and educational programming and media to build a deeper understanding of the Poudre River’s national significance including its role in influencing water development, water law, and water management.  
Poudre River Fish Ladder at Watson Lake

Poudre Heritage Alliance Collaborates to Improve Poudre River Ecosystem Health

By News
A new fish ladder (left side) on the Poudre River at the Bellvue-Watson State Wildlife Area & Watson Lake will reconnect more than 2 miles of the Poudre River, improving ecosystem health and fish habitat (Photo by Jordan Williams).


On May 1, 2019, Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) staff joined with partners and community members at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of a new fish ladder at the Bellvue-Watson State Wildlife Area and Watson Lake. The new structure helps to connect fragmented sections of the Poudre River and improve aquatic habitat for fish.

This fish ladder will help the following species:
· Longnose dace
· Longnose suckers
· White suckers
· Brown trout
· Rainbow trout

“Outside of the benefits to aquatic life, this project is important as it showcases the feasibility of fish passage at these large diversion structures and will hopefully further momentum for these types of projects,” said CPW Aquatic Biologist Kyle Battige. “It also serves as an example of the collaboration and team effort from multiple entities that these large-scale conservation projects will have to have in order to be successful in today’s world.”

Kathleen Benedict, Executive Director of the Poudre Heritage Alliance, helps to unveil the new fish ladder at Watson Lake.

PHA will provide a grant to fund the interpretive signage at the site of the fish ladder to help tell the story of water management in the area and how diversion structures still have many uses today, including for agricultural users like project partners Morning Fresh Dairy and Noosa.

Signage and interpretation is an important educational program of the Poudre Heritage Alliance. By supporting facility enhancements along the trails, the Cache la Poudre River NHA will continue to be a premiere local and national attraction as the trail corridor truly becomes a cohesive Heritage Trail.

We hope this will be the first of many fish ladders along the Poudre River that can help to improve the health of the river’s ecosystem.

This project was made possible by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), along with funding partners noosa yoghurt, Northern Water, Morning Fresh Dairy, Poudre Heritage Alliance and Trout Unlimited.




For more information about PHA and this project please contact Megan Maiolo-Heath, Communications Coordinator, at