Trout Unlimited lauds San Juan Mountains wilderness bill

Legislation would help protect San Miguel watershed, native cutthroat trout

(Ridgway)—Trout Unlimited today praised Sen. Michael Bennet for introducing his San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, a bill that would establish permanent land protections, including wilderness additions, in the Upper San Miguel watershed in southwestern Colorado, an area that is home to populations of native cutthroat trout and backcountry habitat for several big game species.

“We thank Sen. Bennet for continuing to push for protections for this magnificent backcountry area,” said Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen Conservation Project. “The bill would protect headwaters important for water quality and quantity, and they’re part of the larger San Miguel watershed that holds enormous value for anglers for its quality trout waters.”

Under the bill, the headwaters of the San Miguel, the Uncompahgre, and the Animas Watersheds would enjoy increased protections. A new Sheep Mountain special management area would focus on habitat connectivity and preservation of the landscape’s backcountry character. Naturita Canyon, a major tributary of the San Miguel and home to Colorado River cutthroat trout, would be protected from mineral development.

“This bill would keep the land and water the way they are now for current users and future generations of anglers and hunters,” said Marshall Pendergrass, of TU’s Gunnison Gorge Anglers chapter. “We’re asking for D.C. lawmakers to listen to local sportsmen’s voices. This place is remote and very special. Let’s keep it that way.”

About Trout Unlimited –
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Colorado Trout Unlimited has 24 chapters and more than 10,000 members in the state.