Live from the TRCP Media Summit, Day 3

K-T Brown 2

A fine brown taken on the last cast of the day at K-T Ranch in Meeker, Colorado.

photo by Buzz Cox

The final day of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Western Media Summit continued the run of ridiculously gorgeous weather we’d been on, and I chose to spend it with a small group at the K-T Ranch (pronounced kay-bar-tee) about two hours away in the town of Meeker. A satellite property of The High Lonesome Ranch, the K-T sits on the White River and contains two spring creeks, as well. I fished with Todd Tanner, senior editor at Sporting Classics magazine, and we were guided by Buzz Cox, who runs the place with his wife, Rose. They’re transplanted Mainers, so we had plenty of old New England-y stuff to chat about.

We spent most of the day on Lone Tree Spring Creek, a real conservation success story. The folks at K-T had taken what was basically a shallow, warm meadow stream that was little more than irrigation runoff and created a 3/4-mile series of riffles and pools that is wonderful trout habitat. The stream is quite narrow and looks completely natural, and the trout seem to agree–hanging out beneath cutbanks and in the deep corner holes. We fished nothing but hopper patterns, and Todd kicked things off with a bang, landing a gorgeous brownie about 10 minutes into the day. We leapfrogged each other up the creek, and although the fishing wasn’t fast and furious, we each caught a few nice trout. Buzz was especially excited by a couple of 6- to 8-inchers I caught, which proved that natural reproduction was occurring.

We finished off the day on another spring creek, which featured a long, flat pool full of monster trout. Todd again scored first, with a brown and then a giant cuttbow, while I was frustrated by trout taking something just under the surface right in front of me. Finally, Buzz added a dropper to my hopper, and I hooked a 16-inch brown on my very last cast. After a couple of jumps, we had him in the net, and we had to hurry back for the return trip to The High Lonesome.

K-T Ranch Brown Trout 1

Buzz Cox shows off a Lone Tree Spring Creek brown trout, a symbol of the successful conservation work that turned a shallow irrigation seep into a fine trout stream.

photo by Phil Monahan

Before dinner, Orvis Western Regional Business manager Hutch Hutchinson hosted a casting tournament for all attendees. There were four stations that tested a caster’s accuracy and ability to judge distances. There were lots of laughs and more than a few expressions of frustration, but a good time was had by all.

After dinner, it was time for the event’s final presentations. Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands, went first, discussing the importance of protecting backcountry areas near state lines. For instance, oftentimes a backcountry watershed in one state flows into another state. So obviously what happens to that backcountry area is important to the state downstream, even though the land in question is in the neighboring state. Webster premiered the final installment of a TRCP video series called “Native Trout Adventures,” in which a group of anglers explores the headwaters of the Bruneau River watershed in northern Nevada, part of a river that ends up in Idaho.

Next up, Steve Kline, who works on agricultural and private lands for the TRCP, showed a series of PowerPoint slides detailing proposed cuts to some of the most important programs aimed at preserving habitat in agricultural regions. These are programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and others that benefit ducks, upland birds, and big game. One of the most important points he made was that the federal dollars that go to these programs are some of the hardest-working dollars in the budget because they are matched many times over by private donations. Hod Kosman, president of Platte River Basin Environments, chimed in to say that he gets four or five dollars for every dollar of federal money his organization receives.

The keynote speaker was Steven Rinella, an outdoorsman, writer, and television host est known for his ability to translate the sporting lifestyle to a variety of audiences. His 2008 book American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon was widely hailed, and he recently hosted “Wild Within” on the Travel Channel. His talk focused on how he came to view hunting for food as a vital part of his life. It was a journey that took him from a childhood of trapping and poaching, to one where only wild game that he has harvested gets served in his New York City apartment.

Steven Rinella

Steven Rinella with a brace of ptarmigan taken on Alaska’a North Slope.

photo courtesy Steven Rinella

Finally, TRCP board member and conservation director for Berkeley Conservation Institute Jim Martin gave a rousing speech exhorting the audience not to despair in these tough times for wildlife conservation. He asked us to compare our situation to the one that Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and others faced at the beginning of the 20th century. They faced much more seemingly insurmountable hurdles than we do, Martin argued, but the prevailed. And so can we.

Follow the Orvis Conservation blog for much more in-depth coverage of all the issues discussed at the TRCP Media Summit, and make sure that you visit the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership website to find out how you can help maintain the wildlands that help to make this country great.

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  1. Pingback: Win a Trip to Fly Fish at Colorado's High Lonesome Ranch | Orvis News

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