TROUT Magazine Featured Living with Fire Science

Behind the Cover: The fire issue of TROUT Magazine

Wildfire and its impact on our rivers and the places we all call our home waters is a heavy topic. One that doesn’t often need any further description.

Like most issues of TROUT Magazine, this one started with a subtle theme. Fire and what that might mean for us as anglers and conservationists. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the flashy, and often devastating, images of landscapes swallowed up by this natural and human-caused phenomenon.

We strive to dig deeper. If you leaf through the pages of TROUT Magazine, you’ll see that we often focus on the human stories behind our conservation efforts. We do this largely because there are some pretty incredible humans doing important work that will help guide us into the future. Using science as a foundation they’ll ultimately help to create a roadmap for how we understand and live with the impacts that climate change has on our world.

Dr. Ashley Rust stands among burned landscape in Colorado.

When I first found out about Dr. Ashley Rust, featured on the cover of the most recent TROUT Magazine, I was intrigued. After a series of phone calls, we agreed to meet in the late spring at the epicenter of Colorado’s Troublesome Fire which burned over 193,000 acres in the fall of 2020. I was particularly curious in Dr. Rust’s story but also in seeing the charred landscape.

Soon, I found out that Dr. Rust needed to have surgery to repair a torn ACL. I knew we couldn’t go too far, and she was game for seeing the fire damage firsthand while helping me create images that would be featured in our magazine. Within minutes of meeting each other for the first time in person, we put on waders and walked through the waters of Willow Creek in Grand County, Colo. Dr. Rust, who has three boys of her own and is an avid angler, isn’t a stranger to wading swift streams. But she was going to need help crossing to get to where we wanted to take photographs. I quickly walked to the other bank, put down my cameras, and walked the rest of the way across with Dr. Rust using me as her wading staff.

After a round of jokes and laughing we continued the morning making many of the photographs that grace the pages of the recent issue of TROUT Magazine and finally parted ways. Dr. Rust didn’t know this was going to be the cover of the magazine, so it was a nice surprise to receive an email a week or so ago thanking us for highlighting the science behind fire in the West.

Scientists live to tell their stories, and we are privileged to help Ashley share hers. Thank you to Dr. Ashley Rust for her time and energy in shining some light on this important story.

The East Troublesome Fire in the Willow Creek drainage