The Green River is one of the West’s storied fishing destinations. From its headwaters in the stunning Wind River Range to the legendary tailwater below Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Green is what most anglers imagine when they dream of chasing wild trout in the remote and untamed West. And for the people who live on its banks, it’s much more than just a trout fishery. With 16,000 trout per mile in the first seven miles of river below Flaming Gorge, the Green is integral to the lives of many in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado who depend on it for their livelihoods.
This resource is being threatened by proposed water projects and reckless oil and gas development. One project, proposed by Colorado developer Aaron Million, plans on taking 81 billion gallons of water each year out of the Green River and Flaming Gorge and pumping it 560 miles to the Front Range of Colorado. Unfortunately, it’s not the only pipe dream out there.
TU will advocate designation of the Green as a “scenic” river under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which will make it very difficult for large amounts of water to be removed from the river and will protect this extraordinary fishery for future generations.
TU also hopes to protect 1.7 million acres of the Green River Basin from irresponsible energy development. Perhaps the greatest immediate threat to the Rocky Mountain West’s legendary trout fisheries is poorly conceived oil and gas drilling projects, and the Green is not immune to the energy rush. TU has established itself as a leading voice for responsible energy development that balances energy production with protection of high-quality fish and game habitat.
TU is also working with landowners in the Green River basin to get the most of out the area’s limited water supplies. Working with ranchers, we’ve been able to help economize water use and leave more water in streams that are vital to trout. We’ve worked for years in the Wyoming Legislature to approve a bill that would allow irrigators to leave water in streams while still keeping the rights to that water—this bill hasn’t passed, but the idea is gaining momentum.
Plans for the Million Pipeline to the Front Range have been denied multiple times by various decision makers due to their lack of specificity. However, it doesn’t mean the plan has been called off. The coalition to protect the Green and surrounding areas is strong, but sportsmen must remain vigilant in the face of these threats.