The redbuds are blooming, bluebonnets are popping up, and the unofficial Texas trout season is nearing its end. However, as a conservation organization, our work is never finished! In starting, it is truly an honor to represent GRTU as the newly elected State Council Chair and to serve on the board as Conservation Chair – neither position do I take lightly. There is much to mention, and I’m only allowed so many words in the newsletter, but I would like to bring a few items to the memberships’ attention on the conservation front.
GUADALUPE RIVER CLEAN UP – First of all, mark your calendars for April 30th as it will be our first Guadalupe River Clean Up of the year! The event starts at 8:30 A.M. at Rio Guadalupe Resort. More information can be found at https://grtu.org/news/guadalupe-river-spring-clean-up/. As a chapter, it is imperative that we take care of our home water – even when others do not. This will be a great chance to reconnect with other members and, after a little trash-grabbing, make the Guadalupe River an even more picturesque place to fish! Barbecue and drinks will be provided at the end of the event. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either Chris Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org or Donovan Kypke email@example.com.
NATIVE FISH RESTORATION. WILLOW CREEK, NEW MEXICO – GRTU has long been a supporter of coldwater conservation throughout the country. As a chapter we have donated to a myriad of worthy causes. However, many of you may not be aware of the most recent project that GRTU helped support in conjunction with neighboring chapters in New Mexico and Colorado. Willow Creek is located near Tererro, New Mexico and was once home to native Rio Grande Cutthroat but has in recent decades been overrun by non-native brown trout. Thanks to a number of organizations, including GRTU, Willow Creek will have a restored population of Rio Grande Cutthroat by the close of this year! Harris Klein, TU New Mexico Council Chair sent us the following information regarding the project:
“Construction began in September of 2020, starting with diverting the stream around the new barrier site. The old barrier was removed, and the footprint was dug out for a larger and more stable structure. Stone-filled gabion baskets were installed, and concrete was poured for the weir, splashpad, and other areas for structural integrity. Construction was completed in December 2020, at a total cost of a little over $476,000.
Rotenone [piscicide] treatments were conducted in June and July 2021, consisting of about 8 days of work with a crew of 15 NMDGF [New Mexico Department of Game and Fish] staff. The NMDGF is optimistic that they removed all of the non-natives but will follow up with Environmental DNA sampling to confirm that no non-natives remain, after which we plan to stock the stream with Pecos strain RGCT. If all is clear, stocking will take place in 2022.
Chris Johnson of GRTU came to TU New Mexico and suggested that we work together and apply for funding from his chapter. The grants were written for $4000 each and sent in by New Mexico Trout Unlimited’s 4 chapters and the San Luis Valley Chapter in Colorado for a total of $20,000.
Though vital for the completion of the Willow Creek project itself, Guadalupe River Chapter TU’s generous contributions free up New Mexico Department of Game and Fish resources for us to address RGCT restoration elsewhere throughout the range of the fish.”
GRTU’s Coldwater Conservation grant donation of $20,000 was vital to this project’s overall success. Give Willow Creek just a couple of years, and you too can go catch and release rare, Rio Grande Cutthroat from its water! Thanks to our chapter and our board for helping make this happen!
RIO GRANDE CUTTHROAT CONSERVATION AGREEMENT – The GRTU board recently voted and approved the chapter’s formal involvement as a supporting organization of the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Conservation Agreement. There are many organizations and governing signatories that make up the Rangewide Conservation Team including New Mexico TU and Colorado TU. The agreement formally renews this year. As conservation chair, I can think of no better agreement to sign our name to than the conservation and restoration of our closest native cutthroat trout. Colorado Parks and Wildlife and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have both expressed their excitement to have Texas represented in the Rangewide Agreement!
GUADALUPE RIVER POTENTIAL FUTURE PROJECTS – As conservation chair, I have recently spoken with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regarding future conservation projects on our home trout fishery. Some of which include riparian improvements, the addition of in-stream habitat, and a substantial Whitlock-Vibert Box (WVB) program using brown trout eggs, primarily focused in the upper portion of the tailrace. TPWD Inland Fisheries has already expressed their interest and support of the WVB program and has given the chapter permission to move forward on the project. Given the seasonal spawning habits of brown trout, we will most likely begin the project in late fall when water temperatures are more conducive. To learn more about Whitlock-Vibert Boxes and how they effectively hatch trout eggs please visit: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Conservation/Projects-Programs/Whitlock-Vibert-Box. I will continue to keep the chapter informed as these projects progress! We will need volunteers, so keep your waders and work gloves handy!
As always, if you have any conservation questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me. Our tailrace is facing a number of threats on several different fronts; however, I truly do believe that we as a chapter can make a positive impact for anglers and future generations. Thank you for playing a role in supporting coldwater conservation both locally and abroad.
TU Texas State Council Chair
GRTU Conservation Chair