Trout Unlimited and Roaring Fork Conservancy Secure “Outstanding Waters” Protections for Thompson Creek Watershed

Special designation will protect 130 miles of streams and tributaries in the Thompson creek watershed and important cutthroat trout populations

June 12, 2014 (Grand Junction)—The state Water Quality Control Commission on Tuesday approved a special “Outstanding Waters” designation for several branches of Thompson Creek and its tributaries in the upper Thompson Creek watershed, west of Carbondale. The special protections will ensure that the watershed’s high water quality is protected in perpetuity.

“This is a huge conservation win that ensures there will be no degradation of these pristine waters,” said Aaron Kindle, Colorado Field Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “The designation will safeguard the streams, wetlands and tributaries of a nationally significant watershed, and the genetically pure populations of cutthroat trout found there.”

To qualify for Outstanding Waters designation, a stream must exhibit high standards on 12 different water quality parameters, including ammonia, dissolved oxygen, e. coli, nitrate, pH, and various metals. The OW protections will be applied to North Thompson, Middle Thompson and the South Branch of Middle Thompson Creek, as well as several tributaries, including Park Creek, a stronghold for a rare subspecies of cutthroat trout. The vast majority of the designated creeks are on Forest Service lands.

The Water Quality Control Commission’s ruling means that anyone seeking approval for development or discharge permits in the watershed must demonstrate that the proposed activity does not degrade the creeks’ baseline water quality.

Trout Unlimited has worked for over a year with a variety of stakeholders—including ranchers and farmers, landowners, energy companies, county officials, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and others—to win support for the designation.

Chad Rudow of the Roaring Fork Conservancy conducted the baseline water sampling for the proposal. “We work all over the Roaring Fork watershed to ensure that high water quality is maintained, and that the valley’s streams and rivers are given the protections they deserve. We appreciate that Trout Unlimited shares this goal and that our data could be put to good use to help preserve these pristine creeks.”

“Most everyone understands the importance of conserving healthy, intact watersheds,” said Kindle. “This is where people hunt, fish, and camp with their kids, and the local agriculture depends on the clean water from these creeks. It’s a special place, and we’re happy we could apply another level of protection.”


About Roaring Fork Conservancy:

Roaring Fork Conservancy is the premier watershed conservation organization in the Roaring Fork Valley. Since 1996, it has built consensus on complex water issues by bridging the gaps between hard science, local and regional land use and energy policies, recreational interests, the requirements of a rural agricultural community, and the varied interests of both full and part-time residents in the Roaring Fork Valley. It served as the lead consultant on the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan. Learn more at or by calling 970-927-1290.


About Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 155,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Colorado Trout Unlimited has 11,000 grassroots members across the state. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at