Orvis: A Champion for the Colorado River


Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, Green River, CO | Matt Rice

There is a road that veers Northwest off Highway 40 about 70 miles west of Steamboat, Colorado.  I don’t think many people drive this road as I have only seen about a dozen vehicles on the handful of trips I have been there.  Driving on this road is like driving to the end of the earth.  The landscape is barren, harsh, and very beautiful.

For me, the best part of driving on this road is not the beauty or the solitude- being on this road means that I will be fishing the Green River in a matter of hours.  Fly patterns, fly lines, and a 20 pound brown trout that I once saw in a picture in a fly shop in Steamboat (caught on a hopper on the Green) run through my mind when I probably should be contemplating the vastness and desolation of the land I am traveling through. I have this same problem when I see a small creek on a beautiful alpine pass (does it hold cutthroat?) or in fall when the aspen’s are peaking bright yellow (could be a great day for streamers).

I cannot help myself; fly fishing is what connected me to these rivers as kid and now as an adult who makes his living protecting and restoring rivers, fly fishing has opened the door to the fascinating worlds of water policy, advocacy, science, and law.  Oh and if it weren’t for fly fishing, I am not sure I would have started whitewater boating.

The iconic fly fishing company, The Orvis Company, is committed to building the connection between fly fishing and healthy rivers. Through their support of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® and the Angler’s Choice Award, Orvis has helped support American Rivers’ work in the Colorado River Basin to build the connection between anglers, whitewater boaters, farmers, and communities; all of whom depend on healthy rivers. With Orvis’ support we were able to produce a video that brought the Colorado River to the nation.  It has since been screened in hundreds of cities.

In the Colorado River Basin, Orvis supports American Rivers’ work to promote environmentally friendly alternatives to new hydropower dams and diversions that harm rivers, to advocate for the permanent protections of the last special free flowing rivers in the basin, to develop innovative conservation and efficiency solutions on farms and in cities, to help communities realize the economic and recreational benefits of their backyard rivers, and above all, to create a powerful and lasting constituency for river health.

Working to protect and restore the Colorado River is not easy; demand for water already exceeds supply and climate change and energy development are putting further stress on the rivers.  This is why we are so thankful for companies like Orvis who understand that healthy rivers mean a bright future for all of us.