Q3 / 2019:Conservation Partner Project

RUNNING RIVERS: CONSERVATION THROUGH RECREATION

The beginning of a Running Rivers Flyathlon
The beginning of a Running Rivers Flyathlon

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HOW CAN YOU HELP?

With basin + bend, contributing to conservation is easy! That's because we leverage commerce for conservation. By simply purchasing your favorite hunting and fishing gear from basin + bend (at the same price you would at any other retailer) you'll be supporting this partner and provide much needed funds to the project. Instead of donating an unknown "portion of the profits" to a conservation effort, we show you exactly how much is going to be donated to this specific project.

ABOUT THE CONSERVATION PARTNER:

TRAIL RUNNING, BEER, WILD LANDS, AND FISH. RUNNING RIVERS DOES IT RIGHT.

Running Rivers firmly believes that the best way to ensure the preservation, protection, and maintenance of our irreplaceable public lands and waters is to develop and foster the stewards who will stand up in their defense.  Their programs create unique opportunities for people to experience public lands and waters in novel and fun ways, to expand their depth of understanding of the importance of healthy functioning freshwater ecosystems, and to invest in their time, money, and sweat through on-the-ground stewardship projects.

Over the years that hey have been holding Flyathlon events, they have raised more than $150,000 for on-the-ground restoration and education projects with their conservation partners Colorado Trout Unlimited, the Western Native Trout InitiativeVolunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  

By design, many of their projects are targeted towards the basin where their events are held, so they leave the resource better than they found it.  Further, where possible, they encourage their program participants to volunteer in the execution of the on-the-ground projects that they fund.

It all boils down to Conservation through Recreation!

Overall, Running Rivers' mission is a simple one:

To facilitate the connection of people with healthy freshwater ecosystems through novel recreational events, educational activities and on-the-ground projects.

Overview of the Project

The Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (RGCT) is the southernmost distributed subspecies of cutthroat trout. Native to the Rio Grande Basin in Colorado and New Mexico, these fish are also currently found in the headwaters of the Pecos River and Canadian River basins in New Mexico.

The RGCT was the first trout in North America to be encountered by Europeans in 1541 during the expedition led by Francisco de Coronado, and it was formally described in 1856 from specimens collected from Ute Creek during a railroad survey in 1853 on the eastern side of the San Luis Valley near Ft. Garland, Colorado.

A Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
A Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

In recent decades, the RGCT has seen extensive declines in distribution and population. Currently, RGCT populations represent approximately 12 percent of the historical distribution. Many factors have contributed to the decline of the RGCT including small population sizes, hybridization with non-native salmonids, competition with non-native salmonids, loss of habitat resulting from wildfire, stream drying, disease, increased water temperatures, poor land management, and angling.

The RGCT is not currently listed for Federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but because of declines, Colorado wildlife managers are taking protective measures for RGCT as a Species of Special Concern.

Sand Creek, a perennial stream basin on the northern perimeter of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, was identified as a watershed that could provide abundant suitable habitat for a robust and sustainable population of pure RGCT.

As a part of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (GRSA) mission to restore native plant and animal species, the Sand Creek watershed presents a unique opportunity for anglers and park visitors to have a recreational population of native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, while creating a conservation population of genetically pure specimens.

Running Rivers is working with partners such as Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, the National Park Service and the Western Native Trout Initiative to create a self-sustaining population of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout in Sand Creek, which is currently occupied by non-native trout. This is a multi-year project, which at completion will create 12 miles of stream and 2 lakes of habitat for pure Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, providing resiliency to the viability of RGCT range-wide.

The Flagship Event: The Rocky Mountain Flyathlon

While Running Rivers raises money through multiple events and activities, their flagship event is by far the most popular. The Flyathlon is a multi-sport event that integrates three activities that are surging in popularity; trailrunning, fly fishing, and craft beer. While many enjoy these activities independently, we have found over the years that putting them together is even more enjoyable. Simply put, many of the best and most beautiful places to fish are way back in the woods, and the quickest way to get back to these remote places to maximize fishing time is to trail run. And once you have run back from that mountain lake or stream (or while you are there…), all of that effort is rewarded with high quality, local craft beer.

  • Giving Back: The overwhelming majority of funds raised by Running Rivers through each Flyathlon event are specifically targeted towards river and trail improvement projects within the greater watersheds in which the individual events are held. By re-investing the dollars that we raise through events into projects to maintain and enhance the trails and creeks that the events are held on, we are ensuring that our activity will be sustainable into the future.
  • Inclusivity: The Flyathlon is designed to be largely inclusive as opposed to truly competitive.  To the newbie, both the sports of trail running and fly fishing (and even craft beer, for that matter) can seem very exclusive and even pretentious, and this perception limits their desire to engage in these outdoor activities. The Flyathlon seeks to break down those barriers through accessible events that create positive and fishy outdoor experiences and memories. It is our hope that through this type of exposure, we can create new outdoor advocates, new river warriors.
  • Community Involvement: The Flyathlon actively seeks out local community involvement in our events, and explicitly encourages race participants to spend additional time and money in the host region after each event.
  • Responsible Recreation: The Flyathlon is designed specifically to promote responsible fishing practices and trail habits. On the fishing side of the event, all events are 100% catch-and-release fishing using only fishing methods approved for that specific area. On the trail running side of the event, race rules explicitly highlight proper trail etiquette (e.g. no short-cutting, Leave No Trace principles).
  • Fun: While all of that other stuff is super important to us, it is important to stress that the Flyathlon is designed to be a ton of fun!  But don’t just take our word for it…

READY TO PUT CONSERVATION FIRST?

Many of your favorite fishing, hunting and outdoor brands have already joined our Conservation First™ program. Take a look at our online store and we are sure you'll find something that you've already been eyeing!