|For those of us that love nerding out on anything related to rivers and aquatic life, we’ve got a treat for you! Amy McMahon is a Colorado artist who has managed to merge her love of art, insects, and fly fishing into some really great results!
| Amy has worked as an entomologist since 2009 and creates her
scientifically accurate aquatic insect artwork in her spare time. Additionally she is an avid fly fisher herself and has worked as a fishing guide.
If you love her work as much as we do, you can find it here!
| From all of us here at PWP, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday season, and remember that you can still enjoy your rivers and lakes in the winter – all it takes is putting on an extra layer or two – get out there and see the winter beauty!
Hot off the press – the brand new Las Animas County Noxious Weed Guide!This new comprehensive guide to noxious weed identification and control by Shannon Clark and Shelly Simmons provides excellent color photos of common local noxious weeds as well as a ton of great information about the plants themselves and the best methods for control!The guide was made possible through the efforts of the Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative, the Spanish Peaks-Purgatoire River Conservation District, and a host of sponsors!To get your copy, you can contact Shelly Simmons directly at or stop by the Spanish Peaks-Purgatoire River Conservation District office at 3590 E. Main Street in Trinidad. We also have copies at the Purgatoire Watershed Partnership office at the same address. Get yours today!
Fishers Peak – The Purgatoire River Watershed will soon be home to not one but two state parks! The Crazy French Ranch, once a privately owned large ranch near Trinidad, has been purchased and named as Colorado’s 42nd state park.
The ranch contains the iconic Fisher’s Peak that can be seen for miles away outside the watershed. At least a portion of the property is slated to be open to the public by January 2021, although there is still much work to be done in terms of assessing restoration and recreational enhancement needs for the property, and then conducting the associated on-the-ground work.
Additionally, local community members have already and will continue to be closely engaged in providing input on developing the plan for the property that ensures the preservation of the cultural heritage of the property, and ensures that community members are on board with future proposed recreational enhancements and allowed activities.
Many community members are incredibly excited about the new recreational and economic opportunities that this new state park will bring, but other long-time residents in this largely agricultural watershed understandably lament that this historic private working ranch has shifted into public hands, and worry about how this change in ownership will affect historic activities conducted on the land as well as impacts on wildlife and adjacent private lands.
The Purgatoire Watershed Partnership – along with the 5 primary organizations involved in the development of this new state park including City of Trinidad, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) – is listening closely to community members in the watershed to make sure all input and concerns are considered.
If you would like to provide input on the development of this park, please contact me (Julie Knudson) at 970-420-1915 or and I will make sure that you are connected to any upcoming public meetings and can pass on your comments directly to the key planners.
For more information: Denver Post ArticleThe Trust for Public Land Article
PS. The other amazing state park in our watershed is Trinidad Lake State Park – come check it out if you haven’t already!
The Purgatoire Watershed Partnership, Trout Unlimited local chapter, The Youth Club of Trinidad, and Bird Conservancy of the Rockies partnered together on this newly funded project by the Bar NI Ranch Community Fund to encourage youth to get outside and engage with the outdoors, while also participating in environmental education and accomplishing enhancement of the Purgatoire River. Local youth will participate in activities in and along the Purgatoire River guided by local experts in fishery development, birds of the riparian corridor, and native and invasive riparian vegetation/habitat and plant identification. Participants will learn about their local river ecosystem and help enhance their river – all while getting wet and dirty and slimy in the name of being outdoors! Activities will include fish stocking, learning how to fish, helping to develop basic bird and plant skills and ID booklets for the Trinidad River Walk, and conducting invasive plant management/native habitat restoration.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will also be a key partner in these efforts.
|In November 2019, the Mile High Youth Corps, City of Trinidad, and the Purgatoire Watershed Partnership hit the ground to restore and enhance more than an acre of the Purgatoire River along the Trinidad River Walk, clearing three separate sites of noxious woody species (primarily tamarisk, Russian olive, and Siberian elm) and cleaning up a large amount of woody debris and trash. Many community members stopped by while the work was being done to compliment workers on a job well done and we have heard since how excited people are to be able to see the river again and be able to hang out in these newly cleaned up areas. A big shout out to Mile High Youth Corps for all of their hard work, and to the City of Trinidad for their significant contributions to these efforts!
|Photos Above: Mile High Youth Corps members preparing for work for the day (left); City of Trinidad employee Ernesto Barela, who provided a ton of great support moving cut-down noxious woody debris.
| This work was our first kick-off project funded by the newly awarded Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Stewardship Impact Grant, which is a watershed effort consisting of more than 25 partners and growing, working to conduct river restoration and recreation enhancement efforts along the Trinidad River Walk and adjoining areas, as well as in the newly acquired Fishers Peak area as things evolve there (see more info on that below). Part of these efforts include the implementation of the new
Purgatoire Watershed Outdoor Stewardship Program (to be unveiled soon!)
| The main restoration and recreation enhancement work site just west of Linden –
before (above) and after (below) work was completed. You can see the river now! And just wait til we can see the results in all their splendor in springtime!
|If you haven’t checked out these newly restored and enhanced sites yet…head over to the Noah’s Ark Shelter parking lot in Trinidad – from there you can access one of the newly enhanced sites right at the parking lot, and another one by taking a short walk on the Trinidad River Walk past the basketball courts and over the footbridge.
|On Nov 4th, 2019 we held a special youth and young adult river restoration and education day sponsored by Patagonia. More than 15 participants were involved in this event, where educational speakers including Shelly Simmons and Donna Albertson with the Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative provided education on noxious weed identification and best management and restoration practices. All attendees received a free Purgatoire River t-shirt and a Las Animas County Noxious Weed Guide as well as a pizza party lunch in between all the hard work clearing woody invasives like Russian olive and tamarisk out of the Purgatoire River! Thanks to all who participated!
|On November 13 2019, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) spearheaded an assessment of the fish populations in the Purgatoire River near Trinidad to document the success of fish stocking events conducted this year and in previous years by CPW and Trout Unlimited local chapter. The assessment was conducted by CPW with help from Trout Unlimited and Purgatoire Watershed Partnership volunteers. Fish were captured through electro-fishing, which temporarily stuns the fish in a given sampling area but does not injure them. Fish are then scooped up by net and measurements are taken promptly, then the fish are immediately released back to the river. The numbers are still being crunched but it looks like some exciting results and that we have some pretty healthy fish in the river – see below for some exciting photos!
|Photos Above: Colorado Parks & Wildlife personnel holding a very nice brown trout doing well in the Purgatoire River – approximately 26.5 inches and 7 pounds (top left); electrofishing team in action (top right); a young central stoneroller (bottom left); and a young longnose dace (bottom right).
|On Saturday October 5th 2019 we held our annual fall Purgatoire River Cleanup event and were joined by 46 enthusiastic volunteers cleaning up everything from tires and basketballs to a variety of plastic trash out of our river. Together we cleaned up more than 120 bags worth of trash along approximately one mile of river! What a difference a community can make! And we had a bunch of new volunteers this year that got so excited about keeping our river clean that we will be initiating a monthly river cleanup event in the new year.
Thanks to all of you who came out for this event – the river looks great!
|We kicked off the day with river experts giving educational presentations on multiple topics including birds of the Purgatoire River as well as upcoming river restoration and recreation enhancement efforts and economic development in the works tied into the river and the Trinidad River Walk. All attendees received Purgatoire River t-shirts and a full lunch! Sponsors of the event included the Trinidad Community Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Trout Unlimited local chapter, City of Trinidad, Twin Enviro, Creek Week Campaign, Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative, Spanish Peaks-Purgatoire River Conservation District, Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Fountain Creek Watershed District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Thank you!