Colorado Heritage Journey: Our Wilderness’ Legacy

By | News | No Comments

Some people enter the wilderness looking for solitude. Some desire an escape from modern civilization and technology. Why do I enjoy hiking along the Colorado Trail, which goes through several wilderness areas and multiple national forests? I wish the answer was simple, but during this last 75 mile section of the trail from Breckenridge to Twin Lakes, I definitely felt an appreciation for our state’s natural and cultural heritage.

As we ascended over mountain passes, crossed railroad tracks, passed by old coker operations, and slept near alpine lakes, I could not help but contemplate humanities place in the wilderness. In 1964, the United States government created a legal definition for wilderness, which gave certain protections to 9.1 million acres of land at that time. Currently, 109.5 million acres of land are included within that wilderness designation.

Back in January 2018, congressman from Colorado introduced the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act. It would impact nearly 100,000 acres of the White River National Forest by creating three new wilderness areas and enlarging three others. It would also define Camp Hale as a National Historic Landscape, thereby commemorating the the heritage of the 10th Mountain Division, which trained at Camp Hale and helped the United States secure victory during World War II. (See below for my experiences walking along the Colorado Trail through Camp Hale.)

Wilderness areas are directly connected to our National Forests as well, which provide 20% of Americans with a reliable supply of clean, cold drinking water. The Cache la Poudre River’s headwaters originate in Rocky Mountain National Park, but flow through many miles of the Roosevelt National Forest along with the Cache la Poudre Wilderness area. Untangling this intersection of wilderness, forest, and human history is one of the many stories that Colorado’s National Heritage Areas can tell. Read on for my experiences as we traversed our second section of the Colorado trail.

Day 8: Our first day back on the trail after a delightful day off in Frisco saw us tackling 3000+ of elevation gain and decline. Ouch. With heavy packs, we ascended over the Tenmile Range and experienced a strange dichotomy of natural and human landscapes. Around one corner, marmots taunted us with their yipping (see pic below). Then over the crest of the next hill, we glimpsed the top of the Breckenridge ski resort. Camping along Tenmile creek with several other hikers that night was well-deserved to say the least.

Day 9: In the morning, we were back in civilization as the trail traversed Copper Mountain Ski resort (see the chairlifts below). A donut, croissant, and coffee from the impressive Camp Hale Outfitters was a welcome addition to our morning routine. After a few more miles, we found solitude again as we climbed over Searle and Kokomo passes above 12,000 ft. We crossed paths with a several other backpackers who were becoming familiar faces—the human camaraderie while climbing mountains and camping has definitely been a welcome complement to the loneliness of the trail.

Day 10: Is there such thing as an easy day on the Colorado Trail? After 10 days of hiking and analyzing our routes, my answer is no. Between aches and pains, unexpected climbs, and unforgiving descents, the trail always seems to present a challenge. Thankfully, there are usually “distractions” that keep you interested. This day presented an intriguing connection between modern establishments, and our natural heritage. We walked through the remains of Camp Hale (see pictures of the bunkers below) while construction workers seemed to be surveying for an underground gas line in the area. By the end of the day though, we found ourselves in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area, with an amazing camp site adjacent to Porcupine Lake at 11,400 feet. Again, we shared this wilderness experience with several friendly faces who were also experiencing the same physical and natural challenges as us.

Day 11: We woke early to an amazing sunrise (see featured picture), then geared up for our longest day on the trail so far—21 miles that would take us from the Holy Cross Wilderness area through the Mount Massive Wilderness (Colorado’s second highest mountain), to the base of Mount Elbert (Colorado’s tallest mountain). The challenge was both mental and physical yet again, as there were long stretches with nothing in sight but forest and trail. However, the water pump and garbage facilities at the trailhead were a very welcome slice of civilization.

Day 12: Because of our long day prior, we “only” had a 7+ mile walk into our next town stop in Twin Lakes. As the lakes came into sight, anticipation was building for a real day off and amenities such as a shower and a bed. Of course, Twin Lakes is a National Historic District with limited cell phone and internet service. However, the quaint appeal (and proximity to Leadville) certainly make it a worthwhile destination.

Stay tuned for our next stop in Salida, as we traverse the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and explore more of Colorado’s natural and cultural heritage along the way.

Sources:

https://www.nationalforests.org/our-forests/your-national-forests-magazine/where-the-water-begins
https://polis.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398559

About the author: Jordan Williams is the Assistant Program Manager for the Poudre Heritage Alliance, and he will be hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango from August to early September alongside his wife Kelsey and their dog, Aska. During their trip, the threesome will be making stops in South Park and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas and blogging about their experiences. Additionally, they will be posting about their adventures on Instagram @thehikingheeler and @poudreheritage. Don’t miss your chance to learn more about Colorado’s Heritage Journey!

Colorado Heritage Journey: South Platte and Beyond

By | News | No Comments

Backpacking along the Colorado Trail definitely makes you appreciate the value of water. Not having access to tap water, a shower, or an ice cold beer for several days really puts the idea of “wilderness” into perspective. Most of our days along the trail, we try to make camp near a water source, and at the end of the first day our goal was the South Platte River (see picture above). This location had particular meaning for me, since throughout segment 1 of the trail, we had been paralleling the South Platte canyon. Having lived in Fort Collins for over 5 years now, the Poudre Canyon has become a home away-from-home, and the confluence of these two great rivers approximately 5 miles east of Greeley marks the edge of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. Safe to say, after 13 blistering hot miles on day one, the South Platte’s cold waters were exactly what we needed.

Way back on July 5, 1820, Major Stephen Long reached present day Denver where he also got to look upon the South Platte River. However, his first impressions were not as enthusiastic as my feelings during our Colorado Trail thru-hike in 2018. Long had been commissioned to ascend the Platte River and explore the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. His expedition followed the Platte River to its South Fork in the mountains, where they discovered and named Long’s Peak. While his group was not successful in finding the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers, the Long Expedition was the first scientific survey of the region and dramatically increased the country’s geographical knowledge of the West. Of course, with the spring runoff long gone from the rivers of Colorado, Long thought the the region resembled a “Great American Desert” rather than a Fertile Crescent.

Settlers did eventually pour into Colorado’s Front Range, and they formed towns along the area’s waterways. The Union Colony settlement in 1869 (now present day Greeley) at the confluence of the South Platte and the Cache la Poudre River, and their continued perseverance in utilizing the water resources available in the area, is a prime example of how Long’s initial assessment was a little short-sighted. The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area is meant to chronicle how the people of Northern Colorado interacted with the natural landscape and the river to have a nationally-significant impact on water law and water management systems. Which just goes to show that in terms of Stephen Long’s findings, first impressions aren’t always the most accurate.

Unfortunately for our “expedition” along the Colorado Trail, not every day would end with a South Platte River-esque water source. The first few days were incredibly dry, but still very eventful. On Day 1, nature was out in full-splendor as we traversed Bear Creek while running into butterflies, berries, and bobcat poop. We even had some fly-bys from a couple hummingbirds and hawks.

After replenishing our water supplies at the South Platte on the morning of Day 2, we prepared to traverse the Buffalo Creek burn area (see pic below). Despite fantastic footing along the trail and some respite at the local firehouse, Kelsey began suffering some serious blister problems. We hoped to end the 16 mile day at Tramway Creek, but unluckily for us there was no way we were going to pump water from that trickle of a stream. So we headed 4 more miles down the trail to Buffalo Creek, where we spent the night alongside another thru-hiker, a nurse from New Mexico who was attempting to complete the trail in just 30 days. Big props!

Day 3 brought cloudier weather—thank heavens! Unfortunately, we had a 2,000+ ft climb up to 10,600 feet in the Lost Creek Wilderness to look forward to. Despite a lack of views from the top, we were rewarded with a couple of Gatorades from two “trail angels” at our campsite that evening. (See picture below for the valley we camped in.) Our troubles continued though when we discovered that our dog Aska was experiencing chaffage from her pack, and our water filter clogged. Back up iodine pills to the rescue! We were really starting to miss that great tasting, Fort Collins tap water at this point…

On Day 4, I woke up with a headache and some queasiness. Maybe a little bit of altitude sickness? We powered through the first 6 miles of the day though to exit the Lost Creek Wilderness, but we had some company from baby birds and cows along the way (see pic below). That night, we camped for the first time totally by ourselves (except for a few cows that decided to sleep at Johnson’s Gulch as well), where we enjoyed the thunder and lightning show from the comfort of our tent.

Day 5 brought us back to civilization as we headed toward to Kenosha pass to meet up with our friends to help us resupply, which included a new water filter. Yay! We also connected with the amazing media crew from Mount Bailey productions to film a segment and do a podcast for South Park National Heritage Area. Look for it on Facebook by the end of the month! Aska was especially interested in the interpretative signage chronicling the railroading and farming heritage of the area. (See pic below.) That night brought the end of our dry spell, as the rain and wind ravaged our campsite. How are we going to do this whole thing again?

Day 6 found us climbing up and over Georgia Pass, while we dodged mountain bikers on this popular segment of the trail. (See 13,000+ Mt. Guyot in the pic below.) We also ran into several other thru-hikers from all over North America, including Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia. The rocky road on the way down from the pass made several foot baths in the ice cold streams a necessity that evening. Again, the importance of water, this time for feet care.

Finally, on Day 7 we “sprinted” the last 13 miles to Breckenridge while fighting random rain storms, unfortunate uphills, and annoying foot pains. We were greeted with ice coffees by Kelsey’s parents, and proceeded to enjoy showering and drinking from the tap again. As I write this post listening to Tenmile Creek rushing past, I am beginning to get ancy for the trail however. I can only hope to get lucky with future water sources while avoiding those thunderstorms on the high peaks of the continental divide. Either way, I still have a lot to learn about this state’s water heritage.

Look for my next post in a week from Twin Lakes!

Sources for this article:

About the author: Jordan Williams is the Assistant Program Manager for the Poudre Heritage Alliance, and he will be hiking the 500 mile long Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango from August to early September alongside his wife Kelsey and their dog, Aska. During their trip, the threesome will be making stops in South Park and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas and blogging about their experiences. Additionally, they will be posting about their adventures on Instagram @thehikingheeler and @poudreheritage. Don’t miss your chance to learn more about Colorado’s Heritage Journey!

NEWS RELEASE: Rotary Club awards $4,000 grant to Poudre Heritage Alliance

By | News | No Comments

Rotary Club of Fort Collins Supports Learning in Our Watershed™

FORT COLLINS (July 30, 2018) – Students really do learn on field trips, yet they are in danger of disappearing from American schools, particularly for disadvantaged students. Figures show that field trips have dropped nationwide an estimated 30 to 50% since 2002.With skyrocketing bus costs, school budgets decreasing, and the expectation that educators present as much standards-related content in the school day as possible, many schools are viewing field trips as an unattainable luxury.

However, thanks to a $4,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Fort Collins awarded to the Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA), students in Larimer County will be able to learn outside the walls of the classroom.

Through its Learning in Our Watershed™ program, the Poudre Heritage Alliance provides funding for field trips to K-12 school teachers in Larimer and Weld County that bring students to the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. The mission is simple – to help youth understand and value the Poudre River and their water heritage, ensuring a next generation of river stewards.

As part of this new grant from the Rotary Club, PHA will be able to provide more volunteer support from its Heritage Culturalists in teaching these program participants about the Heritage Area. Also, educational videos and other materials will be available to enhance the experience before the field trip even begins.

Studies have shown that field trips and hands-on learning make concepts more memorable, and enhance students’ critical thinking skills, historical empathy, tolerance and appreciation for museums and natural areas.

One teacher from Irish Elementary expressed these thoughts about their Learning in Our Watershed™ field trip:

“Students learned about the water cycle, water conservation, and river systems this year in 3rd grade. The field trip helped the students further understand the importance of the Poudre river in Fort Collins and all the ways we use it. They also learned how to keep rivers clean and how to conserve water on a daily basis. They also learned about the ecology of the Poudre river.

Thank you very much for the scholarship! If not for you our students would not be able to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

Thanks to support from the Rotary Club of Fort Collins, the Poudre Heritage Alliance will be able to expand opportunities for youth to directly experience and come to appreciate the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. To receive a scholarship award for 2018-2019, applicants need to apply online: https://www.poudreheritage.org/field-trip-grants/

///

ABOUT THE CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA AND THE POUDRE HERITAGE ALLIANCE

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) tells the story of the river where Western Water Law began and still informs the use of water throughout the arid West today.  CALA shares the long struggle to sustain a viable agricultural economy, and meet the growing needs of a diverse and expanding population, while conserving the Poudre River’s health.

CALA’s 501(c)3 nonprofit managing entity – the Poudre Heritage Alliance – PROMOTES a variety of historical and cultural opportunities; ENGAGES people in their river corridor; and INSPIRES learning, preservation, and stewardship. Find out more at:  https://www.poudreheritage.org/

ABOUT THE ROTARY CLUB OF FORT COLLINS

The mission of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins is to provide direct service to others in our city, to promote high ethical standards throughout our community, and to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

The vision of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins is to be known for our service to the members of this city and for our commitment to Service Above Self helping disenfranchised children and others throughout the local and global community. Find out more at: https://www.rotarycluboffortcollins.org/

Picture above: PHA Chairman Bob Overbeck and PHA Executive Director Kathleen Benedict receive $4,000 grant from Fort Collins Rotary Club at July 11 luncheon

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Poudre Heritage Alliance

Jordan Williams

970-295-4851

programs@poudreheritage.org

Colorado Heritage Journey – 2018

By | News | No Comments

July 23, 2018 – This summer, visitor and locals can once again visit all three National Heritage Areas by checking out the Colorado Heritage Journey landing page. Along the way, visitors will learn about the history and heritage that ties us all together from a new perspective: Jordan Williams, Assistant Program Manager for the Poudre Heritage Alliance, will be hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango from August to early September alongside his wife and their dog, Aska. During their trip, the threesome will be making stops in South Park and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas and blogging about their experiences. Additionally, they will be positing about their adventures on Instagram @thehikingheeler and @poudreheritage.

In 2017, the Cache la Poudre River, South Park, and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas created a first-of-its-kind marketing initiative that highlights the importance of heritage tourism—the next big evolution in the $19.7 billion Colorado tourism industry. By teaming up with the Colorado Tourism Office, this campaign by the three Colorado National Heritage Areas showcases the importance of partnerships in leveraging tourism dollars for the benefit of local economies.

A website landing page entitled “Colorado’s Heritage Journey” includes a map that connects out-of-state visitors and locals to all three areas while providing information on the unique recreational and educational opportunities available in each region. Additionally, a hard copy brochure are available at select state welcome centers and local visitor offices, thereby encouraging people to plan a driving tour of all three areas.

Colorado’s National Heritage Areas oversee a wide variety of programs and services that make economic and cultural impacts throughout their regions while receiving a large portion of their funding from the federal government. The NHAs in Colorado collaborate with local governments, county administrations, and federal agencies, including National Parks such as Rocky Mountain and the Great Sand Dunes, as they wisely utilize these federal dollars. Each Colorado Heritage Area receives approximately $300,000 in federal funding and on average they are able to leverage these dollars at a 5 to 1 return on investment. For more information about the individual Heritage Areas, see below.

Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) begins in northern Colorado, where the river flows out of the Rocky Mountains, through the town of Fort Collins and extends east to its confluence with the South Platte River, just east of Greeley. The area commemorates the river’s significant contribution to the development of water law in the western United States, the evolution of the river’s complex water delivery systems and the cultural heritage of the region. From beer tasting at 25+ breweries and bike riding along 45 miles of the Poudre River, to fly fishing and enjoying concerts and western rodeos, there’s a lot to experience here. (www.poudreheritage.org)

South Park National Heritage Area (SPNHA) is in the heart of Colorado. It is here where the past is always present, protecting and promoting its existing historic mining and ranching structures as well its natural resources. It’s less than two hours’ drive from Denver or Colorado Springs, but feels like a journey back in time – to the days of prospectors, trappers and even prehistoric man. In South Park, you can ride horseback, hike in an authentic wilderness area, or fish lakes and rivers all the while enjoying the scenic vistas that include Colorado’s snowcapped 14,000 foot peaks. (www.southparkheritage.org)

Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) is the gateway to southern Colorado and preserves and protects the unique cultural heritage here. This area is rich in history, religion, culture and bio-diversity protecting and promoting the villages and lifestyles of some of America’s earliest Spanish settlements and early railroad communities. It is among the most unique and well-preserved cultural landscapes in the nation, with stunning natural resources. From scenic drives along Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, fishing on the Conejos River, sledding down the Great Sand Dunes, or visiting the oldest Catholic parish in Colorado, there’s a lot to appreciate and enjoy here. (www.sdcnha.org)

*Photo courtesy of Kelsey Devereaux: Jordan Williams and Aska at Lory State Park

National Heritage Area Directors Meet in Boulder

By | News | No Comments

Across America there are places that are richly layered with stories of people, their traditions and arts, their histories and their breathtaking landscapes. Forty-eight of these areas have been recognized by Congress as places that have made significant contributions to the history of and the formation of the United States. These places have  have been designated as National Heritage Areas.

In 2009 Congress established the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) in the San Luis Valley for the purposes of providing an “integrated and cooperative approach for the protection, enhancement, and interpretation of the natural, cultural, historic, scenic and recreational resources of the area.” In the feasibility study that led to this national recognition it was stated that SdCNHA represents a “profound historical, religious, cultural, ethnic and biological diversity that historically served as a staging ground for a new nation that was being redefined. Hispano, Anglo and Native American Cultures interacted in this area, witnessing the convergence of the old with the new.”

Alex Hernandez, the National Heritage Area Regional Coordinator for the National Park Service (NPS), led a two-day training session in Boulder, Colorado in mid-June. “The National Park Service was pleased to host a regional National Heritage Areas workshop, where representatives from the Intermountain Region’s six National Heritage Areas could collaborate with one another and share ideas for engaging the public on meaningful heritage-oriented projects. The Intermountain Region’s heritage areas highlight the diverse and significant stories of our nation’s history and the West. Their community-driven efforts to tell these stories demonstrate the importance of partnerships among communities, heritage areas, and National Park units.”

Tori Martinez, Executive Director of Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, stated “We are proud to be a part of this national effort to preserve, protect, and promote our countries stories and natural resources. Though each National Heritage Area is unique in what we focus on, we all strive to share our piece of the countries history with locals and visitors. This common goal provides many opportunities for collaboration, which makes National Heritage Areas a good model of partnerships with government and the private sector, nonprofit and business, higher education and K-12.”

Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area(CO), was one of six National Heritage Areas represented at the Boulder training. The others were South Park National Heritage Area(CO) and Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area(CO), Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area(NM), Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area(UT) and Yuma National Heritage Area(AZ). Some of the topics covered were collaboration efforts between National Parks and Heritage Areas and Heritage Areas with each other, legislative outreach, resource needs, reauthorization planning, sustainability, technical assistance opportunities and National Parks Service support.

Each Heritage Area was able to share about the projects going on in their region and highlight some of the work they have done to help preserve and protect their sacred places.

“It was amazing to hear stories about history and culture from the regional representatives. One of the most important lessons I took from the workshop was the realization we all share so much of the same story. The people and their heritage on the land we all love is the communal experience we all strive to preserve and protect. Together we can bring a tapestry of wonderful stories to the public square.” said James Nelson, Associate Director of Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.

Each heritage area was able to share what programs they have accomplished in the last year and the efforts they are making for their heritage area to have sustainable resources for the future. One effort that is universal across the board is the heritage areas partnerships with National Park Service.

Kathleen Benedict, Executive Director of Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area stated, “Working collaboratively with our National Park Service representatives in the Intermountain Region helps National Heritage Areas like the Cache la Poudre River by integrating and promoting our initiatives on a larger scale. These cooperative efforts ultimately allow smaller organizations like the Poudre Heritage Alliance to have a bigger impact on a national-level, thereby assisting with the fulfillment of our organizational goals and mission.”

National Heritage Areas are not national park units. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside the boundary of each National Heritage Area nor does the NPS impose land use controls as a result of National Heritage Area designation. Rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to National Heritage Area coordinating entities. Some heritage areas like Sangre de Cristo have a National Park within their boundaries and thus create even closer partnerships.

Kathy Faz, Chief Interpreter for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve also attended the training. She stated, “Great Sand Dunes is proud to be included within the boundaries of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, it allows the park to enhance our visitor’s experience within the surrounding communities. We will continue to support a variety of community-based activities that celebrate the rich culture and history of the southern San Luis Valley.”

One thing was evident, National Heritage Area staff and National Parks staff all care greatly about preserving our nation’s historic and geographic features and will continue to work in close partnership for generations to come, so that tourists and residents alike can continue to enjoy America’s past, present and future.

*Photo courtesy of South Park National Heritage Area

For more information, please contact:

Jordan Williams, Assistant Program Manager, Poudre Heritage Alliance, 970-295-2851

Play it Safe on the Poudre – News Release

By | News | No Comments

CLICK HERE FOR OUR RIVER ACCESS AND SAFETY INFORMATION BROCHURE

Partner agencies join forces to provide Poudre River safety education

As temperatures and the Cache la Poudre River’s waters rise, people should be extremely cautious when recreating near and in the river.

A new river-safety initiative, “Play it Safe on the Poudre,” emphasizes this point through newly installed safety and educational signage along the river, public outreach and other means. The intent is to minimize future Poudre River-related injuries and deaths.

In the days after two river deaths in summer 2017, representatives from multiple agencies came together with an impassioned drive to empower people to recreate as safely as possible near the Poudre River. The “Play it Safe” initiative was born. It’s important to note that river-safety work has gone on in our community in past years.

“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,” PFA spokeswoman Madeline Noblett said.

“Ultimately, as an emergency service agency, it’s Poudre Fire Authority’s duty to do what we can to reduce risk in our community related to any element, fire or water. And we couldn’t do that without the support of our committed partners.”

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; Poudre Heritage Alliance for the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area; Larimer County; the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Larimer County Emergency Services; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; and more.

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.

On June 27, 2017, 64-year-old William McHarg, of Severance, died after falling into the Poudre while he was on a rafting trip. The Larimer County Coroner’s Office determined Mr. McHarg had severe heart disease and died from a heart attack and drowning. Seattle-area 18-year-old Maximilian Gonzalez died after getting caught on June 18 in a low-head dam while tubing near Bellvue.

“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these devastating events; they’ve faced unimaginable loss,” Noblett said. “We also want our community to know that we can work together to minimize these tragedies. The keys are education, awareness, which lead to changes in behavior. This is the crux of community risk reduction – the heart and soul of the work to which we commit ourselves.”

“Play it Safe” is an ongoing and multi-faceted initiative. PFA and partner agencies are paying for various components of the project, which includes but isn’t limited to:

–     Installation of warning signs to alert people of the presence of low-head dams ahead. There are numerous low-head dams on the Cache la Poudre River, throughout Larimer County. These structures are installed to slow water to enable diversion of water into ditches. However, the physical drop structure can create dangerous situations for boaters because of their recirculating currents and large hydraulic forces. Though they appear to be smooth and easily traversed in a tube, raft or kayak, they can easily injure and trap people and water vessels. The hope is that people on the river will see the signs and have enough time to get out of the river before they get to the low-head dams.

Safety signs stand beside the Poudre River, near the Bellvue Watson Fish Hatchery, warning people of the low-head dams downstream that pose a significant risk. They were installed in 2018, as part of the “Play it Safe on the Poudre” river-safety

– Installation of signs with river-safety information and maps, including recommendations that people wear river-rated personal floatation devices (PFDs) any time they are near the river; what to do in the event of a river-related emergency; and more.

Educational river-safety signage, designed and installed by the City of Fort Collins, sits near a trail by the Poudre River, accessible in the approximate area of 1219 N. Shields St.

COMING PUBLIC EVENTS RELATED TO WATER SAFETY

Poudre  Riverfest

Noon to 6 p.m., June 2

Location: Adjacent to New Belgium Brewery, 500 Linden St., Fort Collins, on the Poudre River Oxbow River-safety talk/demonstration with PFA firefighters scheduled for 4 p.m.

More info: www.poudreriverfest.org

 

Big Splash

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 9

Location: 1883 Water Works Big Splash, 2005 N. Overland Trail, Fort Collins

Learn about the “Play it Safe” initiative from the Poudre Heritage Alliance

 

Day of Giving July 11

HuHot Mongolian Grill, 249 S. College Ave., Fort Collins

HuHot will donate 20% of the day’s proceeds to support Larimer County Dive Rescue Team. The money will be used to purchase new rescue equipment for the team.

 

Outreach at New Belgium July 14

Poudre Heritage Alliance will host a booth on New Belgium Brewery’s lawn to educate the public about and raise funds for the “Play it Safe on the Poudre” initiative.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Amy Gonzalez is the mother of Maximilian Gonzalez, an 18-year-old who died in 2017 in a tubing accident. He and his cousin were caught in a low-head dam, near the Bellvue Watson Fish Hatchery. Max later died from his injuries; his cousin survived. Amy wants to make sure that no family has to endure what hers has. She wants people to know Max’s story, and be aware of low-head dams and the risks the river poses. She will be available for interviews from 1:30 to 3 p.m. June 2 at the Poudre Riverfest. She will be at the booths represented by Poudre Fire Authority, the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas, and the Poudre Heritage Alliance. Those who would like to set up a time for interviews may contact PFA Public Affairs and Communication Manager Madeline Noblett (contact info below) ahead of the event. She will not be available for interviews before the event.

Through the nonprofit Poudre Heritage Alliance for the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, people can donate to support these and future river-safety-focused efforts. Go to www.coloradogives.org/playitsafeonthepoudre for more information about how to donate. Any questions related to donations may be directed to: Poudre Heritage Alliance at 970-295-4851 or playitsafe@poudreheritage.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Madeline Noblett, Poudre Fire Authority public affairs and communication manager mnoblett@poudre-fire.org or 970-219-5930

Zoe Shark, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department community relations manager zshark@fcgov.com or 970-221-6311

Kathleen Benedict, Poudre Heritage Alliance executive director kbenedict@poudreheritage.org or 970-295-4851

POUDRE FIRE AUTHORITY RIVER-RESCUE DATA

PFA crews were involved with 23 actual rescues (related to the Poudre River or in a canal in PFA’s 235-square- mile service area) between 2013 to 2017. Specifically, this means PFA crews actively responded to an emergency incident, deploying personnel and, in some cases, water craft to rescue people. In some cases, PFA responded but did not perform a rescue because the person self-rescued, or a bystander or other agency rescued the person or people.

The first rescue of the 2018 season occurred May 16, when PFA firefighters were dispatched to the bridge in the area of 430 N. College Ave. about 3:26 p.m. A man was stranded on a rock in the river; bystanders reported he had been tubing. Firefighters secured a safety line and launched the rescue boat. The man was safely removed from the river at about 4:50 p.m. He was checked by paramedics on-scene and released. PFA was assisted by partners from Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services, UCHealth EMS, Larimer County Dive Rescue, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Rangers, and Fort Collins Police Services.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Tell someone where you are going and always go with a partner, when you expect to return and where and who to call if you don’t. If your plans change while you are traveling, put a note in your car on the driver’s side dashboard with the new
  • Have a communication plan in the event of an emergency, not all areas west of Ted’s place have cell service.
  • Wear life jackets around Some areas near the water’s edge and some riverbanks are unstable due to current high-flow rates.
  • Stay away from riverbanks during times of high-flowing The banks may have become unstable and give way underneath you.
  • Never forget the power of the river, especially when it is running high and fast from spring runoff or recent heavy
  • Be aware of the limitations of yourself in the water. Even if you are a good swimmer, fast moving water and under currents can easily catch you off guard. Additionally there are often rocks or other obstacles underneath the water that can knock you off balance even in shallow water
  • Watch your surroundings, including the weather. Be prepared for extremes in the weather, especially if more rain is predicted. Heavy rains upstream can alter the water flow and depth in a short period of time and also contribute to When your clothes are soaking wet, hypothermia is a danger even in the summer.
  • Carry a First Aid kit and know how to use it. Take a first aid course for CPR and basic medical
  • If caught in a fast flowing river, rapids or storm water, try to float feet first in a half sit
  • Remember: Reach or Throw, Don’t Go. If someone is caught in fast moving water, reach out to them or throw a rope to the person in the water. Don’t go into the water yourself or you may also become in need of rescuing. Call 911 ASAP with as detailed location to where the incident is

If your plans include wanting to be on the river in a recreational watercraft, we urge you to use one of the many qualified local rafting companies for the best experience. They have qualified instructors, safety equipment and trained staff in case of medical emergencies. Additionally, if you are in your own recreational watercraft and it gets away from you, please call our non-emergency Dispatch number at 970-221-6540 to report the watercraft, when it is safe to do so. Have the color, approximate size and the location you last saw it and direction it was traveling so that we are aware of it and can let other concerned citizens who call in and see it know that there is no one trapped underneath the craft.

Heritage Culturalist Training 2018 – Sign up now!

By | News | No Comments

Poudre Heritage Alliance Prepares for Third Straight Ambassador Training Program

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) is announcing the third iteration of its Heritage Culturalist Program (HCP) – a robust volunteer training and educational program that highlights the importance of the Poudre River. This year’s training will take place over two and a half days from May 17-19. For the second straight year, the program is paid for in part by a State Historical Fund grant from History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society.

Currently 29 people have gone through the Poudre Heritage Alliance’s (PHA) Heritage Culturalist program over the last two years. The HCP is free to sign up and participate, but spots are limited. The training features classroom and field learning sessions led by local historians, authors, and experts in the field of history and historic preservation. The training focuses on the history of the Poudre River and how western water law and settlement in northern Colorado was and continues to be shaped by the events related to the use of the river and its water. Interested individuals and organizations can go online to learn more and sign up: https://poudreheritage.org/heritage-culturalist-volunteers/ (Applications are due by April 30. 2018)

Judy Firestien, family owner of the Von Trotha-Firestien Historic Farm at Bracewell, who went through 2017 training, has this to say about the program: “The Heritage Area is so special to me because a portion of our farm lies within the Heritage Area and I have many fond childhood memories of times along the river, mostly exploring with my dog, Duke. I became a volunteer with CALA to further solidify the knowledge I have gained over the past years with regard to the history of the area, water history and water law, and historic preservation. I hope to further use this knowledge on our farm to educate the public on history, water, and how awesome PHA is and to inspire and encourage people to learn more!”

Following the training, the volunteers engage in self-guided learning through individual exploration of the CALA and group projects focused on one of the six historical sites that were visited during the training. The 2018 training will include site visits to the Eaton House in Windsor; the Lake Canal and Arthur’s Ditch in Fort Collins; the Greeley #2 Ditch and Diversion structure; and the Delph Carpenter House and White Plumb Farm in Greeley. (For a listing of the speakers at this year’s training, see attached.)

Community members in Larimer and Weld counties with a passion for learning and sharing the history of the Poudre River are encouraged to apply by going online: https://poudreheritage.org/heritage-culturalist-volunteers/. The dates for this year’s training will be the afternoon on Thursday May 17 through Saturday May 19.

For more information about the Heritage Culturalist Program please contact Jordan Williams at 970-295-4851 or programs@poudreheritage.org.

Speakers at 2018 training (in-progress):

  • Kathleen Benedict, PHA Executive Director
  • Bob Overbeck, City of Fort Collins Councilman, PHA Board Chairperson
  • Ron Sladek, President of Historic Larimer County and Tatanka Historical Associates
  • Peggy Ford Waldo, Greeley Museums Development Curator and Weld County Genealogical Society President
  • Margo Carlock, Executive Director, National Association for Interpretation
  • Justice Greg Hobbs, Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court (retired), author, and Colorado water law expert
  • Robert Ward, College of Engineering CSU (professor emeritus), former PHA board member, and 2016 HCP volunteer
  • Tom Trout, Supervisory Agricultural Engineer, USDA (retired), 2016 HCP volunteer
  • Karen Scopel, City of Greeley Natural Resources Manager, PHA Board of Directors Treasurer
  • Wade Willis, Town of Windsor Manager of Parks and Open Space Division, PHA Board of Directors Vice Chairperson
  • Amy Unger, Historic Preservation Survey and Education Grants Coordinator, State Historical Fund
  • Cheryl Glanz, Publicity Chairperson, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia – Northern Colorado Chapter, 2016 Certified Heritage Culturalist Volunteer
  • Luke Bolinger and Kristen Sweet McFarling, Town of Windsor Recreation & Culture
  • Mark Taylor, Board President for Arthur Ditch management agency through the City of Fort Collins
  • Joanna Luth Stull, Greeley History Museum, Centennial Village Docent
  • Dan Perry, Manager of Greeley History Museum, 2017 Heritage Culturalist Volunteer, PHA Board Directors member (at-large)
  • Stephen Smith, Water Resources and Irrigation Engineering with Wade Water LLC

(Picture above of 2017 Heritage Culturalists at Great Western Sugar Beet Flume)

Fort Fund Awards Grant to Poudre Pour

By | News | No Comments

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The first annual Poudre Pour has been awarded a $4,250 Fort Fund (City of Fort Collins) grant to support the event in 2018. The Poudre Heritage Alliance and BreWater are partnering to host the Poudre Pour, an educational celebration of “Good Water = Good Beer!” from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, at the Carnegie Center for Creativity, 200 Mathews St, in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Poudre Pour will highlight water and the importance of the Cache la Poudre River to more than 634,000[i] Coloradoans living in Larimer and Weld Counties. The event focuses on craft brews and the major ingredient that makes the stouts, lagers and ales so tasty…WATER from the Poudre River!

This family-friendly event is not your typical brewfest! The Poudre Pour includes an afternoon of fun and learning with 11 craft beer tasting stations from brewers such as New Belgium, Horse & Dragon, Intersect, Soul Squared, Gilded Goat, Purpose, Odell, Coopersmiths, Maxline, Jessup Farm, and Rally King; appetizers such as Noosa yoghurts, Nanga chocolates, pretzels with beer-cheese dip and a S’more pit for kids; special presentations such as the trailer release of “The Power of Place” movie and a panel speaking about “A River of Many Uses”; kid activities such as “fishing” and t-shirt printing; live entertainment from Beth’s Studio; art exhibitions from local photographers and Windsor Charter Academy; and a silent auction featuring trips, treats, tickets and more!

Proceeds will benefit the Poudre Heritage Alliance, managing entity of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area – working to PROMOTE a variety of historical and cultural opportunities, ENGAGE people in their river corridor and INSPIRE learning, preservation, and stewardship.

The event is enabled through the generous support of in-kind donations and sponsorships that make it possible to both celebrate and educate about our most important resource – water.

Poudre Pour sponsors to date include:  BreWater, City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, 105.5 The Colorado Sound, KUNC Radio, Beth Studio, Bohemian Foundation, Scene Magazine, Downtown Development Authority, JAX Mercantile, Shirazi Benefits, Clear Water Solutions, Von Trotha-Firestien Historic Farm, Encompass Technologies, Dellenbach Motors, The Windsor-Severance Historical Society, Sign-a-rama, Citizen Printing, Noosa Yoghurts, Nanga Chocolate and Rocky Mountain Soda Company.

The Poudre Heritage Alliance and community partners are joining to celebrate the wonder of water and protect our water heritage for this and future generations!

Tickets to the Poudre Pour are limited and MUST be purchased in advance: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/poudre-pour-tickets-39525190910

///

ABOUT THE CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA AND THE POUDRE HERITAGE ALLIANCE

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) tells the story of the river where Western Water Law began and still informs the use of water throughout the arid West today.  CALA shares the long struggle to sustain a viable agricultural economy, and meet the growing needs of a diverse and expanding population, while conserving the Poudre River’s health.

CALA’s 501(c)3 nonprofit managing entity – the Poudre Heritage Alliance – PROMOTES a variety of historical and cultural opportunities; ENGAGES people in their river corridor; and INSPIRES learning, preservation, and stewardship. Find out more at:  https://www.poudreheritage.org/

ABOUT BREWATER

BreWater brings together breweries in the greater Fort Collins area to discuss local water issues, to bring community members together, to encourage water education, and to protect the quality of our most important resource: water.

Find out more at: https://brewater.com/

[i] According to the US Census Bureau as of July 1, 2016 the population in Larimer County, CO totaled 339,993, and the population in Weld County totaled 294,932.

Poudre Heritage Alliance Hosts First-Ever Emeritus Dinner

By | News | No Comments

Poudre Heritage Alliance Hosts First-Ever Emeritus Dinner for the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area

The Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) hosted a special recognition event for past board members and regional influencers on March 1, 2018 at the Greeley Country Club. This first time gathering of local, regional, and national Poudre River advocates was held to acknowledge the hard work of four Emeritus honorees: Senator Hank Brown, Dr. Howard Alden (posthumous), Richard Brady, and Richard C. Maxfield.

Hank Brown – A Vietnam veteran, who served as a forward aircraft controller in the US Navy. He is a graduate from the University of Colorado. After graduation he worked for Monfort. In 1974 he was elected to the Colorado State Senate. In 1980 he was elected to Congress representing Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District. In 1986 he successfully sponsored legislation to make the Poudre River north of Fort Collins a Wild and Scenic River. In 1990, Hank was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1996, his legislation to create the Poudre Heritage Area was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Following his service in Congress, he returned to Colorado to become the Executive Director of the Daniels Foundation and serve as President of the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado.

Dr. Howard Alden was a former Colorado State University professor, and a founding member of the Poudre River Trust and the Poudre Heritage Alliance. He was Director of the Environmental Learning Center from 1976-91 and co-founder/president of the Arapaho Roosevelt Pawnee Forest Foundation. He received many awards and accolades over the years, including the Gene Mitchell Award in 1995, the Larimer County Stewardship Award 1996, and worked as a Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand. Dr. Alden served on the original working committee and that helped with the Poudre River’s National Heritage Area designation. The 2011 CALA Guidebook is dedicated to Howard.

Richard Brady’s family ties to the Poudre River Valley go back several generations to when his grandparents first settled in the region. His public and community involvement can be felt throughout Northern Colorado. He was the City of Greeley’s attorney for many years before becoming a founding board member of PHA. He served as PHA’s Interim Executive Director and as the Board Chairperson for several years where he was instrumental in securing technical changes to the original River Corridor legislation. He retired from the PHA board in December 2016, but he is still active as a volunteer for the organization.

Richard C. Maxfield is a fourth generation Coloradoan from Fort Collins and has lived in Greeley since 1961. He is a past director of the Poudre Heritage Alliance where he served as the Chairman and Vice Chair over many years. He was involved in several other community organizations during that time such as the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, Jubilee Ministries of Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, and the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church. He is a Paul Harris and W.D. Farr Fellow and past board member in the Rotary Club of Greeley. He is still president of Maxfield Services Corporation, which continues to be recognized for its contribution to service enriched affordable housing.

These four individuals contributed greatly to the formation of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA), making it the first if its kind west of the Mississippi River 22 years ago in 1996. Several of them also spent years helping PHA manage this unique national designation. The event program for the Emeritus Dinner consisted of introductions by colleagues and friends, with special awards being given to each of the four honorees. The presentations and speeches were recorded for historical archiving purposes.

Several Larimer and Weld County managers, Greeley and Fort Collins municipal leaders, and Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado faculty attended the dinner. Local leaders in attendance included Maria Secrest, District Representative for Senator Cory Gardner, National Park liaison Larry Gamble (retired), and Intermountain Regional Director of National Heritage Areas, Alexandra Hernandez. The emcee for the evening was Fort Collins City Councilman and current PHA Board Chairman, Bob Overbeck. For the full list of PHA’s 2018 Board of Directors, visit CALA’s website.

For more pictures of the event, or for more information about PHA or CALA, please contact the Poudre Heritage Alliance Office at admin@poudreheritage.org or 970-295-4851.

 

Pictured left to right above: Emeritus honorees Richard Brady, Richard C. Maxfield, Senator Hank Brown, and Susan Alden (accepted award on Howard’s behalf) *Photo Credit: Hailey Groo

Your Water Colorado Blog – 2/12/2018

By | News | No Comments

Water law in Colorado is constantly developing. Check out this new blog post from Your Water Colorado:

Public Access to Water Flowing Through Private Property

“A Denver Post article written by Jason Blevins resurrects a water issue left unresolved in Colorado for nearly 40 years. “Who owns the bottom of the river?” asks a lawsuit brought by a fisherman, Roger Hill, against a landowner, Mark Warsewa, who has blocked Hill’s access to fish on a portion of the Arkansas River near Texas Creek in Fremont County. Warsewa owns the land adjacent to the river and Hill likes to wade there after entering from public property. Warsewa claims his land ownership includes the stream bed; Hill contends the river bottom is public property. A federal district court has been asked to decide.

The basis for the suit is a body of federal law called “navigability for title,” which essentially says that if a river was used for commercial purposes at the time of statehood (Aug. 1, 1876 for Colorado), then the state owns the bed and the public has access to use the river for recreational purposes. The case—Roger Hill v. Mark Everett Warsewa and Linda Joseph—is in the U.S. District Court for Colorado because, as the plaintiff’s complaint asserts, “the question of whether the Arkansas River was navigable for title at the time of Colorado’s statehood is a question of federal law.”

Colorado has no state law defining navigability. A 1979 Colorado Supreme Court decision—People v. Emmert—ruled that a Colorado constitutional provision declaring the waters of every natural stream to be public property subject to appropriation did not grant public access for recreational use when the water flowed through private property. Violators are subject to criminal trespass. A state attorney general’s opinion four years later said that rafters would not be criminally liable, but could be subject to civil trespass. A 2010 legislative attempt to clarify the law would have allowed commercial rafters to float on waters through private property, but not fish; it passed the House but failed in the Senate.

Hill points to newspaper accounts from the 1870s that describe commercial use of the Arkansas River near Texas Creek to float logs and railroad ties. His complaint claims the river “was navigable at the time of statehood because it was regularly used and was susceptible to being used in its ordinary condition at the time of statehood as a highway for commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted.” These are the essential components of the federal “navigability for title” law.”

For the full article by Larry Morandi, click here.

Photo: “Colorado River @ Bond Colorado” by Loco Steve is licensed under CC BY 2.0