The current struggle over whether to retain or remove the Amherst dam on the Tomorrow River has gathered quite a bit of attention. People love water and the Amherst pond is understandably cherished by many, especially those who live close to it.
In The News
This section of our site contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is made available for informational and educational use only. This 'fair use' of copyrighted material, as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law, allows for distribution of material, without profit, to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
WYOMING RANGE – From a distance the country looks gentle. Tall mountains flow into rolling hills. Rivers and creeks snake down gorges and into valleys as they wind haphazardly through sagebrush plains.
Those streams are some of the most important Colorado cutthroat trout habitat in the state. The mountains are home to prized elk and deer herds, a struggling moose population and a backcountry playground used by thousands of hunters, anglers, campers and others from the southwest corner of the state and beyond.
But after almost a decade of work to protect that playground, outdoor enthusiasts say it is still threatened. The U.S. Forest Service is considering whether to lease more than 41,000 acres of the area for oil and gas development.
The leases were first discussed in 2004, prompting an uproar from outdoor groups like Trout Unlimited, the National Outdoor Leadership School and coalitions of outfitters and sportsmen.
Congress passed the Wyoming Range Legacy Act five years later in response to the controversy, prohibiting oil and gas development on 1.2 million acres of federal land.
Yet in a twist, the original 41,000 acres was never conserved, leaving the region’s future uncertain. The Forest Service plans to release its draft decision in January after years of study and delays.
Sportsmen say the long-term economic and cultural gains from the area far outweigh the short-term development possibilities. But one energy company waiting for leases expressed frustration with the delays, its owner saying the company wants to lease only a fraction of the area and plans to use horizontal drilling to avoid disturbing the surface.
“Sportsmen hadn’t seen leasing in that type of country, and so when those leases were put up, folks took notice,” said Steven Brutger, the Wyoming energy coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “These are where all this started. This is a major access to the mountains, a gateway to the range.”
Viroqua — There are many ways to view a trout stream.
In the heat of August, knee-deep is a good place to start.
"Those cutthroat trout up there have been isolated, really, since the last ice age. You're looking at roughly 10,000 years of being adapted to that unique environment in those streams, including the ability to withstand temperatures that would be fatal to trout not adapted to those streams," Fisher said. "Oftentimes TU works to restore populations through reintroduction and that kind of thing, but in this case, if a spill were to wipe out populations there, it's not the kind of thing that you could just stick some other cutthroats in there and everything would be all right. It's more of the Humpty Dumpty scenario where once it's broke, you can't put it back together again."
KNOXVILLE — John Thurman of Norris has been named winner of the national Youth Education Leadership Award by Trout Unlimited, recognizing his contributions to creating a new generation of conservationists.