South Platte

February 12th, 2007

Tributary Ten
The Good, the Bad, and the Witless, Part 2
By Carl Pudlo, Colorado

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it..." Proverbs 24:1

The Bad

Oftentimes, as I fish, I observe many alarming and disturbing things. Where the South Platte and Tarryall Rivers meet, there are several crossings where four wheel drive vehicles can move from one side of the river to the other. Both sides of the river have myriads of four-wheel drive roads that criss-cross the countryside like tangled fly line. The four wheel drive enthusiasts use the roads all summer long, as a source of amusement, and as a source of embarrassment to themselves.

As I was fishing a nice bend of the river just upstream from one of the major crossings, I noticed several four wheel drive vehicles descending the road to the river. The vehicles had the usual extra wide wheels, high clearance, and assortment of small dents that usually accompany a four wheel drive vehicle. The drivers had taken four-wheeling to new levels today. Rather than just crossing the river, the drivers had to travel upstream and downstream a few hundred feet to test their skills at driving in water, driving over sandbars, and spoiling the habitat of rainbow and brown trout.

The drivers spent more than 20 minutes to cross thirty feet of water. They did their best to muddy the water, pump carbon monoxide into the river through their exhaust, and generally make as much noise to disturb anything within a two mile radius of the crossing. I do not usually complain about people who want to exercise their right to use the natural resources of the wild outdoors, but I despise people who do not exercise the proper responsibility that goes along with the use of natural resources.

As I fish, I notice the little things along the river, mostly the debris left by fishermen. Often I find used containers for night crawlers, empty soda and beer cans, and an occasional bottle. I would like to say it is not the fly fisherman who leaves the debris lying along the banks and in the stream. I would like to say it is the worm dunkers and the lure lofters that clutter the stream with reams of garbage. However, I am not so na´ve. It is all walks of life that leave the banks and the water of the South Platte filled with unnatural objects, objects of squalor. For every right to use a natural resource there is a reciprocal responsibility for protecting the natural resource.

To be continued... ~ Carl Pudlo, Colorado

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