Relief Ditch: A Collaborative Effort

The project removed a fish barrier, restored impaired habitat, improved diversion controls, and made boating safer on the Gunnison River within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. This area is widely known as an excellent wild trout fishery, in addition to being home to important native fish.


Trout Unlimited is worked directly with multiple project proponents, including the BLM and the water rights owner of the Relief Ditch Diversion. TU acquired more than $750,000 in grant funds from multiple entities.


Over the winter of 2012/2013, TU, with assistance from Stonefly Earthworks, replaced a riverwide push-up dam with a riverwide rock diversion structure and new headgate. This new diversion allows for continued water delivery while greatly reducing impact to the health of the river and enhancing fish passage. The project improved control and measurement of irrigation water. Through working on the dam modification, TU has built relationships with the ditch users, which has led to opportunities for down ditch modifications that will lead to flow improvements.

Staff Contact

Cary Denison, Gunnison River Basin Project Coordinator,

Author of this Page

Cary Denison, Gunnison River Basin Project Coordinator