Cache la Poudre River

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Cache la Poudre River
Cache La Poudre River as it flows through northern Fort Collins, Colorado.jpg
Cache La Poudre River as it flows through Fort Collins, Colorado.
CountryUnited States
Cities Fort Collins, Greeley
Physical characteristics
SourceRocky Mountains
  locationRocky Mountain National Park
  coordinates 40°25′29″N105°48′24″W / 40.42472°N 105.80667°W / 40.42472; -105.80667 [1]
  elevation10,755 ft (3,278 m) [2]
Mouth South Platte River
Near Greeley
40°25′17″N104°36′3″W / 40.42139°N 104.60083°W / 40.42139; -104.60083 Coordinates: 40°25′17″N104°36′3″W / 40.42139°N 104.60083°W / 40.42139; -104.60083 [1]
4,600 ft (1,400 m) [2]
Length126 mi (203 km) [3]
  locationFort Collins [4]
  average162 cu ft/s (4.6 m3/s) [4]
  minimum0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
  maximum6,080 cu ft/s (172 m3/s)
Basin features
  leftNorth Fork Cache la Poudre River
  rightSouth Fork Cache la Poudre River
TypeWild, Recreational
DesignatedOctober 30, 1986
Rafters on the Poudre River near the Grey Rock trailhead Cache rafters.JPG
Rafters on the Poudre River near the Grey Rock trailhead
View of the Poudre River from the Big South trail Poudre rapids.JPG
View of the Poudre River from the Big South trail

The Cache la Poudre River ( /ˌkæʃləˈpdər/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) KASHPOO-dər), also known as the Poudre River, is a river in the state of Colorado in the United States.



The name of the river (French for '"Hide the Powder"') [5] is a corruption of the original Cache à la Poudre, [6] or "cache of powder". It refers to an incident in the 1820s when French trappers, caught by a snowstorm, were forced to bury part of their gunpowder along the banks of the river.


Its headwaters are in the Front Range in Larimer County, in the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. The main source is Poudre Lake. The river descends eastward in the mountains through the Roosevelt National Forest in Poudre Canyon. It emerges from the foothills north of the city of Fort Collins.

It flows eastward across the plains, passing north of the city of Greeley, and flows into the South Platte River approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Greeley.


The river is a popular summer destination for fly fishing, whitewater rafting, tubing, and kayaking in the Poudre Canyon. The river has been substantially populated since the 1930s by year-round residences. While a popular summer destination, the area has residential communities and churches that provide a year-round presence in the rural area. The fish in the Cache La Poudre River include: rainbow, brown and brook trout. [7]

The river is subject to sudden and devastating floods which often impact nearby communities. A flood in 1864 destroyed the military post, Camp Collins, located near the river at La Porte. The military relocated the camp and renamed it Fort Collins. Although no fort was ever built, the current city of Fort Collins was established and continues to experience periodic flooding from the Cache La Poudre. [8]

Trout fishing

From its headwaters downstream, through the city of Fort Collins, the Cache la Poudre River contains abundant populations of self-sustaining wild trout. The vast majority of trout that live within the river system are brown trout. The community of Fort Collins contains devoted Poudre River Anglers, who seek brown trout of all size, ranging from juvenile trout all the way up to piscivorous and predominantly nocturnal five to eight-pound trout. Anglers pursue these trout most actively in the guise of a fly fisher and dozens, if not hundreds, of local fly patterns have been developed purely for use on the Poudre.

Many locals consider the Cache la Poudre River to be the life blood of the Fort Collins community. Yet, water rights run deep in the community's history and water ownership for uses such as irrigation, drinking and industry create unstable flow environments, greatly impacting the abundance of wildlife in and around the river. As a result, several conservation organizations have been formed in an effort to protect and enhance the natural state of the river. The heavy pressure from the rafting community and related tourism has tended to negatively impact the wildlife along the river corridor.

Anglers seeking success on the Cache la Poudre River can find it in all seasons, as water remains open in certain areas year-round. Fishers in the winter often pursue skittish trout with flies the size of a pinhead at distances of up to forty feet. Brown trout spawn in the fall and rainbow trout in the spring, making for aggressive and active fish that are more than willing to take a fly, dressed of fur and feather and will fight the angler well. Spring, Summertime and Fall mark the highest amounts of anglers on the stream, but enough public water exists that one may always find solitude if he or she so desires it.

Because of increasing fishing and rafting pressures on a finite resource, special regulations have been designated for certain stretches of the Poudre by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. These regulations include the use of flies and lures only and strict catch and release designations. This ensures that trout populations are left to thrive naturally and that fish who are caught for sport are released, unharmed, to live on for future generations. Special regulation waters include The Indian Meadows Section, The Hatchery Section and a small tailwater stretch of the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, which flows from Seamen Reservoir to the main fork of the Poudre. As the Cache la Poudre leaves the canyon for the valley to flow through Fort Collins the water quality decreases significantly. Although trout still live in the lower Cache la Poudre, the population is increasingly diminished due to marginal water flows and water quality, both of which greatly hinder self-sustained trout reproduction in the lower Poudre. Because of this, all fishermen whether bait or artificial should release their catch in town in order to make sure the fishery on the lower Cache la Poudre will remain for years to come.

Many believe that with the right combination of flow, habitat and regulation, the Cache la Poudre River can become a world-class trout fishery. Furthermore, the Cache la Poudre River has and will continue to support tremendous fly fishing in a wild and beautiful setting.

Glade Reservoir controversy

A project has been proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District called the Northern Integrated Supply Project. It includes several water supply projects, but focuses on the Glade Reservoir, which would be located north of Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Galeton Reservoir, which would be located north of Eaton, Colorado, and would supply 40,000 acre feet (49,000,000 m3) of water annually to 15 communities in Northern Colorado. [9] Both reservoirs would be filled by a diversion from the Cache la Poudre River and would store that water for use by these communities. The project has been studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2005, resulting in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released in September, 2008. [10] Due to the number and complexity of significant comments received during the public comment period, [11] the COE determined that additional analysis would be required before a decision on whether to approve or deny the permit can be made. They plan to release a supplemental DEIS in late 2013, delaying construction of the project — if approved.

To supply 40,000 acre feet (49,000,000 m3) of water from the reservoirs, significant quantities of water would be diverted from the Poudre River above the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. Most diversions would occur during the peak snowmelt runoff in May and June. Essentially all the water that is diverted (and pumped) into the off-stream Glade Reservoir would be released back to the river at a later time. But these releases into the Poudre from Glade would be entirely offset by water that would normally be released from Horsetooth Reservoir into the Poudre, also upstream of Fort Collins. This Horsetooth water, originating from Colorado's west slope, would be piped to most of the NISP subscriber communities outside the Poudre basin instead of going to agricultural users downstream on the Poudre River and South Platte River. According to the first DEIS, the net diversion from the Poudre would represent anywhere from 26 to 71% of the flow as measured in downtown Fort Collins. [10] These flow reductions are in addition to existing diversions that have removed approximately 50-60% of the river's water since European settlement began in the valley.

The formation of the Glade Reservoir has been the highlight of backlash from local communities. A group called Save the Poudre was created from the formation of the project in 2005, and has fought the project since, citing negative environmental and economic impacts that will come in the fulfillment of this project. On the other hand, supporters of NISP and the Glade Reservoir cite a negative alternatives like buy and dry (which is when a farmer sells their water rights, and to ensure that the farmer doesn't divert any more water, the land is completely dried up), as a reason to support NISP. [12] The potential necessity for this reservoir comes from the increasing population of the Northern Colorado area, causing an increase in the demand for water while the supply of water has been slightly decreasing due to decreased snow packing in the mountains, which is a major way of storing water for the Northern Colorado area. [13] The City of Fort Collins, which diverts water from the Poudre River and has more senior water rights than NISP, has addressed concerns with the Glade Reservoir in terms of its negative environmental impacts, which NISP has been trying to mitigate through various projects. [12]

As of June 2018, NISP is working on releasing an environmental impact report, which is analyzed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and people can submit their comments on this report to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers' final call on their approval of NISP is slated to happen sometime in 2019. With Save the Poudre stating they will take the Army Corps of Engineers to court if they approve the project, this process could possibly be dragged out to the point that NISP doesn't get any water rights until 2025 instead of the predicted year of 2020. [14]

National Heritage Area

The Cache La Poudre River Corridor National Heritage Area includes the 100-year flood plain of the river from its emergence from the mountains to its confluence with the South Platte River. [15]

National Wild and Scenic Rivers designation

On October 30, 1986, 76 miles (122 km) of the Cache la Poudre River were designated as a Wild and Scenic River, under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The designation spans from the headwaters of the river at Cache la Poudre Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, downstream along the south fork of the river. 30 miles are classified as wild, and 46 miles are classified as recreational. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

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South Platte River River in Colorado and Nebraska, United States

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Laramie River

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Poudre Canyon

The Poudre Canyon is a narrow verdant canyon, approximately 40 mi (64 km) long, on the upper Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County, Colorado in the United States. The canyon is a glacier-formed valley through the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains northwest of Fort Collins.

Bellvue, Colorado Unincorporated community in State of Colorado, United States

Bellvue is an unincorporated community and U.S. Post Office in Larimer County, Colorado. It is a small agricultural community located in Pleasant Valley, a narrow valley just northwest of Fort Collins near the mouth of the Poudre Canyon between the Dakota Hogback ridge and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The ZIP Code of the Bellvue Post Office is 80512.

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The North Fork Cache la Poudre River is a tributary of the Cache la Poudre River, approximately 59.2 miles (95.3 km) long, in north central Colorado in the United States. It drains a mountainous area of north central Larimer County northwest of Fort Collins on the western side of the Laramie Foothills.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project

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The Laramie-Poudre Tunnel is an early transmountain tunnel in the U.S. state of Colorado. The tunnel transfers water from the west side of the Laramie River basin, which drains to the North Platte River, to the east side Cache la Poudre River basin that drains to the South Platte River. The tunnel is about 11,500 feet (3,500 m) long with variable diameters with a minimum diameter of about 5.3 feet (1.6 m). The diameter varied due to the different material mined through and the erosion of almost 90 years of water flow. It is located at about 8,400 feet (2,600 m) elevation with about a 1.7 degree down slope. The Laramie River lies about 225 feet (69 m) higher than the Cache La Poudre River at this location separated only by a mountain ridge. The Laramie-Poudre Tunnel is located about 45 miles (72 km) west-northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado, about 20 miles (32 km) south of the Wyoming border and about 25 miles (40 km) north of Rocky Mountain National Park. It was built between 1909 and 1911 for the Laramie-Poudre Reservoirs & Irrigation Co. to convey water from the Laramie River to the Poudre River for Front Range irrigation. The tunnel was driven for the purpose of conveying through the divide 800 cu.ft of water per second.

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Spring Creek (Fort Collins, Colorado)

Spring Creek is a 12.7-mile-long (20.4 km) tributary of the Cache La Poudre River in the state of Colorado in the United States.

Dam removal

Dam removal is the process of demolishing a dam, returning water flow to the river. Arguments for dam removal consider whether their negative effects outweigh their benefits. The benefits of dams include hydropower production, flood control, irrigation, and navigation. Negative effects of dams include environmental degradation, such as reduced primary productivity, loss of biodiversity, and declines in native species; some negative effects worsen as dams age, like structural weakness, reduced safety, sediment accumulation, and high maintenance expense. The rate of dam removals in the United States has increased over time, in part driven by dam age. As of 1996, 5,000 large dams around the world were more than 50 years old. By 2020, 85% percent of dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old. In the United States roughly 900 dams were removed between 1990 and 2015, and by 2015, the rate was 50 to 60 per year. France and Canada have also completed significant removal projects. Japan's first removal, of the Arase Dam on the Kuma River, began in 2012 and was completed in 2017. A number of major dam removal projects have been motivated by environmental goals, particularly restoration of river habitat, native fish, and unique geomorphological features. For example, fish restoration motivated the Elwha Ecosystem Restoration and the dam removal on the Allier River, while recovery of both native fish and of travertine deposition motivated the restoration of Fossil Creek.

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The Grand Ditch, also known as the Grand River Ditch and originally known as the North Grand River Ditch, is a water diversion project in the Never Summer Mountains, in northern Colorado in the United States. It is 14.3 miles (23.0 km) long, 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, and 3 feet (0.91 m) deep on average. Streams and creeks that flow from the highest peaks of the Never Summer Mountains are diverted into the ditch, which flows over the Continental Divide at La Poudre Pass at 10,175 feet (3,101 m), delivering the water into Long Draw Reservoir and the Cache La Poudre River for eastern plains farmers. The water would otherwise have gone into the Colorado River that flows west towards the Pacific; instead, the Cache La Poudre River goes East and through the Mississippi River discharges into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Cache La Poudre River Corridor National Heritage Area extends along the flood plain of the Cache La Poudre River in Colorado, USA. It is a federally designated National Heritage Area, extending for 45 miles (72 km) from Larimer County in the west where the river emerges from the Rocky Mountains, and ends near Greeley, Colorado, just before its confluence with the South Platte River. The designation provides a framework for the promotion and interpretation of the area's cultural and historic character, and the preservation of the natural and built environment, and is administered by the Poudre Heritage Alliance.

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  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cache la Poudre River, USGS GNIS.
  2. 1 2 Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
  3. Cache la Poudre River Archived 2008-08-30 at the Wayback Machine , The Columbia Gazetteer of North America. 2000.
  4. 1 2 Water Data Report, Colorado 2003, from Water Resources Data Colorado Water Year 2003, USGS.
  5. Dawson, John Frank (1954). Place names in Colorado: why 700 communities were so named, 150 of Spanish or Indian origin. Denver, CO: The J. Frank Dawson Publishing Co. p. 12.
  6. "Colorado"  , 'Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. VI, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, p. 162.
  7. Poudre River Trail Corridor, Inc. "Habitat & Wildlife on the Poudre River". Poudre River trail Corridor. Poudre River Trail Corridor, Inc. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  9. Kunth, Sarah (14 November 2018). "Here's where two major northern Colorado water supply projects stand". The Greely Tribune.
  10. 1 2 Corps of Engineers original DEIS
  11. Corps of Engineers news release regarding supplemental DEIS
  12. 1 2 Marmaduke, Jacey (24 June 2018). "Huge Poudre River water project back in the spotlight, with key dates approaching". Coloradoan.
  13. Cullor, Ravyn. "Shorter, warmer winters set Colorado for drought, fire". The Rocky Mountain Collegian.
  14. "Northern Integrated Supply Project".
  15. "Cache La Poudre River Corridor, Colorado". National Park Service. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  16. "Cache La Poudre River, Colorado". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved 21 October 2014.