VALLEY — Fishing: a vital part of life on the Rio Grande. While this is seemingly an obvious fact, what is not always seen are the benefits that come with this enjoyable and long-standing piece of recreation. Indeed, there are many benefits to recreation itself that are not immediately apparent.
The Rio Grande Basin is known for the many recreation opportunities it provides one of which is most certainly fishing. In fact, there are many sought after places for fly fishing on the Rio Grande. One such example would be the 4UR Ranch. Located on private land along Goose Creek below Creede this exclusive guest ranch has come to be considered among the best fly fishing locations in Colorado, and perhaps in the west. There is no shortage of fishing opportunities on public lands from east to west across the San Luis Valley. There are many lakes and reservoirs owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and many areas along the river itself. It is not hard to see how important fishing is to the Rio Grande.
Kevin Terry of Trout Unlimited points out that one of the first and foremost benefits of fishing is simply that it is a wholesome outdoor activity that improves quality of life. Terry sees fishing as a way to immerse oneself in the natural world and gain respect for the predator/prey relationship. Terry also observes that people will often go to great lengths to improve their fishing skills which requires increased knowledge of natural processes and respect for the environment. This ties in with the Trout Unlimited mission, which is “if we take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself.”
In addition, fishing is an economic benefit for the communities of the Rio Grande Basin that is overlooked quite often. It is one of the most popular recreational draws of the San Luis Valley that brings jobs, drives commerce and is a significant part of the tourism that is a central part of life on the Rio Grande especially during summer months. The San Luis Valley depends on residents and visitors who love fishing the lakes and rivers of the Rio Grande Basin. To Terry, this should be “a source of pride” for everyone who lives here.
Terry also sees the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable as a place where the people and communities of the San Luis Valley intersect. It is also a tremendous way of representing the diversity of how our lives are tied to water. When each stakeholder has a voice, it makes for more informed decisions based on consensus and understanding. It is important that recreation has a place in the RGBRT process because it is a “big deal for our individual lives.” It is also a huge factor for the health of the local economy. Recreation is considered in the decisions that are made. There are funding opportunities that are not overlooked through having a seat at the table. The recreational assets of the Rio Grande are thus enhanced as a result of this process.
“Knowing what matters to whom and that everyone values things differently and deserves to voice their opinions is a key component to the well-being of the Roundtable, and our Valley in general.
Helen Smith is the Outreach Specialist for the Rio Grand Basin Roundtable.