July 02, 2004

~ Fishing is Fun grants will create new angling opportunities around Colorado. ~

A dozen projects will receive Fishing is Fun grant funds this year to create new angling opportunities around the state, including an ambitious plan to create a major new warm-water fishing and recreation mecca in the northern Colorado town of Windsor.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), which administers the Fishing is Fun program, received grant applications for projects requesting $1.28 million in funding. Of those, seven will receive full funding and five will receive partial funding. The Fishing is Fun review panel met on May 11-12 to recommend the list of finalists. Work for most of the projects is expected to begin next year.

Fishing is Fun is a competitive state grant program that encourages partnerships between local communities and the DOW. The program combines local funds with funds from the Federal Sportfish Restoration Act to help Colorado communities expand public access to fishing streams, ponds and lakes, improve aquatic habitat, and generally upgrade the angling experience. On average, local match funds account for 45 percent of the total cost of projects.

“The proposals selected for this year’s Fishing is Fun funding illustrate the many types of fishing projects that can benefit communities around the state, from rural areas to urban settings,” said Jim Guthrie, the DOW’s Fishing is Fun program administrator.

Guthrie said funding for the 2004 projects will range from $25,000 to $210,000. This year, local communities will provide some $743,600 in matching funds.

The largest project this year allots $210,000 for four new fishing jetties, improved access, and other amenities at the 180-acre Windsor Reservoir, located in the heart of Windsor, a town about 10 miles northwest of Greeley. Improvements at the reservoir, which re-opened to the public in late-May, are expected to continue for several years.

Larry Rogstad, a DOW district wildlife manager in Greeley, said the original reservoir was created by early settlers who scraped out a buffalo wallow to make a shallow impoundment. Over the past two years, Windsor has worked with a private gravel company to drain the shallow reservoir and extract gravel from the lake bed. After it was refilled, the average depth of the reservoir became 25-to-30 feet, and the potential to develop a quality fishery became possible.

“Our goal is to create a major warm-water fishery in three to five years, and the Front Range needs places like this,” Rogstad said. “Plains reservoirs are ideal for warm-water fisheries in Colorado, and fishing for warm-water species is a major draw for anglers in Colorado. Any time we can get a fishery established and then get the resources and amenities there and available to the public, everyone wins.”

Windsor officials hope to create a new warm-water fishery over the next decade that can double as a major recreation spot for local residents and tourists. The goal is to create angling opportunities for local residents and draw visitors who will contribute to the local economy by visiting grocery stores, shops, gas stations, hotels, and restaurants. However, the true value of the reservoir can be seen in the kids who now ride their bikes to the lake for an afternoon of fun and fishing, Rogstad said.

In the case of the Windsor Reservoir project, local government officials teamed up with citizens, private business owners and the DOW to flesh out the project’s possibilities, and are now implementing the steps to complete the project.

“It’s exciting to see the use of Windsor Lake already, and with the help of the Division of Wildlife, it’s even going to get better,” said Don Shedd, director of Windsor’s parks and recreation department.

Currently, visitors to Windsor Reservoir can fish for rainbow trout, crappie and northern pike. For the next two years, the town of Windsor will implement a voluntary catch-and-release program for warm-water species in an effort to speed their establishment in the reservoir. Rainbow trout are being stocked to provide the primary recreational fishing for now, and are not included in the voluntary catch-and-release program. Initial stocking of warm-water fish for the lake will emphasize minnows, bluegill, crappie, and gizzard shad. Once the forage base and panfishery has been established over the next several years, other warm-water fish will be added, including largemouth and/or smallmouth bass, walleyes, saugeyes, tiger muskies, and wipers.

Meanwhile, on the Uncompahgre River in southwestern Colorado, another project was allotted $138,000 to improve fish habitat by removing debris, installing boulders, and stabilizing river banks on a 1.3-mile stretch in Cerise Park near Montrose.

This year’s grants will also help open new fishing ponds in Eads, Rangely and Mead; upgrade habitat conditions on the Blue River in Silverthorne, on Brush Creek near Eagle, and on the Fraser River in Granby; and provide safer access to two lakes in Salida. Projects in the Denver area will create improved opportunities for urban anglers who fish at Main Reservoir in Lakewood, McKay Lake in Westminster, and Lowell Ponds in Denver.

For more information about the Fishing is Fun program visit:

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