Suggested start

A. Introduction

  1. At which tributaries should pocket projects begin for the improvement of pocket refuge?

  2. Some or all 5 of the streams briefly described below may be a good start.

  3. They are a subset of the 10 identified as having the largest flows, drainage area, and elevations.

  4. The 5 streams suggested are listed in order of outfall elevation, highest to lowest.

  5. Screening for good food supply and known trout populations would be useful in the consideration of them as starters.

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East Fork, potential candidate for upstream pocket refuge improvement

B. Five streams

  1. East Fork. [Outfall elevation, 9603 ft; mean July-August flow, 36 cfs; drainage area, 17 sq mi; stream length, 7.0 mi; maximum elevation, 13,700 ft.] Having high outfall and maximum elevations, it may be a good candidate for both upstream pocket improvement and barrier installation to establish an isolated cutthroat population.

  2. Slate. [Outfall elevation, 9502 ft; mean July-August flow, 11 cfs; drainage area, 5.1 sq mi; stream length, 5.7 mi, maximum elevation, 14,200 ft.] Upper reaches have water quality protected status as Outstanding Waters, being within the Lizard Head Wilderness Area.

  3. Coal. [Outfall elevation, 9190 ft; mean July-August flow, 11 cfs; drainage area, 6.4 sq mi; stream length, 6.4 mi; maximum elevation, 13,800 ft.] Like Slate, its upper reaches have water quality protected status as Outstanding Waters, being within the Lizard Head Wilderness Area. Coal has permitted sheep grazing, with the result of occasions of elevated total coliform and very slightly elevated E. coli. This does not necessarily present a problem in habitat quality for native and wild trout.

  4. Scotch. [Outfall elevation, 8530 ft; mean July-August flow, 12 cfs; drainage area, 12 sq mi; stream length, 7.6 mi; maximum elevation, 12,600 ft.] It has an intact beaver dam 2 mi upstream and water infiltration resulting from it likely is helping maintain downstream baseflow.

  5. Roaring Forks. [Outfall elevation, 8167 ft; mean July-August flow, 22 cfs; drainage area, 20 sq mi; stream length, 9.3 mi; maximum elevation, 11,800 ft.] With a large drainage area and an upstream tributary, Rough Canyon, this stream may be an excellent candidate for both pocket improvement and barrier installation for cutthroat population conservation. Roaring Forks is on Colorado’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) list for possible elevated copper and arsenic concentrations. Neither were detected in July 2020 sampling. The potential attractiveness of the stream for refuge and involvement in cutthroat conservation may be good motivation for a clear determination about whether metals contamination exists. And if it does not, to get it removed from the M&E list. It would be important to assess food supply and existing trout populations at this stream.​

C. Additional thoughts

  1. What about taking action at a "second tier" of streams, that is, other than the largest ones?

  2. They need immediate attention more, the smaller ones, it could be said; they are more vulnerable to dewatering.

  3. As well, Wildcat, a small stream, may have a genetically important strain of cutthroat to preserve.

  4. This is some indication of factors that can figure in decisions about where to act, where to start.

  5. Additionally, what about considering portions of streams for actions?

  6. For example, Stoner and Fish have significant downstream water diversion for agriculture, reducing flow.

  7. They are long streams, however, and may be candidates for actions upstream, such as cutthroat preservation.

  8. Finally, can efforts to improve pocket refuge be successful and consequential?

  9. For example, through efforts to "read the stream," can good judgements be made about locations for actions?

  10. Can efforts to improve include adequate means for measuring and determining effectiveness?

  11. Can enough refuge be improved to be significant? After all, streams are 4 - 20 miles long.

  12. There can be valuable discussion about such matters before proceeding, and once underway, as well.

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