Kawuneeche Valley,also known as Kawuneeche or Coyote Valley, is a marshy valley of the Colorado River near its beginning. It is located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The axis of the valley runs almost directly north to south. Kawuneeche means "valley of the coyote" in Arapaho language and there is a Coyote Valley Trail head by US Route 34 in the western half of the park. Coyotes still live here, as do wapiti (elk), mule deer, moose (reintroduced in 1978 into nearby North Park), and mountain lion.
Along the main part of valley runs the lower section of the Trail Ridge Road - the highest continuous paved road in the United States.
The construction of a water diversion canal called Grand Ditch between the 1890s and 1930s reduced the water table and limited the frequency and magnitude of the floods in the Kawuneeche Valley.Grand Ditch collects water from Colorado River’s tributaries in the Never Summer Mountains like a rain gutter from the roof and diverts it on the other side of the Continental Divide to the Cache La Poudre River via La Poudre Pass, instead of allowing it to flow down to the valley. In addition, Grand Ditch breached its bank on May 30, 2003 and a resulting debris flow caused extensive injury to the upper Kawuneeche Valley. The Grand Ditch owner - the Water Supply and Storage Company (WSSC) was ordered to pay $9 million settlement to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was the largest natural resource damages payment in the history of the Park System Resource Protection Act. Grand Ditch exerts also negative aesthetic impact on the Kawuneeche.
Elk (wapiti, Cervus canadensis) were reintroduced to their former habitat in the Colorado River Valley in the mid-1910s.
Moose (Alces alces) was reintroduced by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in the 1970s in North Park, which is just to the northwest of Rocky Mountain National Park, however, significant breeding populations may never have inhabited Colorado. This solitary species wanders alone moving south from Wyoming or east from Utah. And such moose probably account for sightings and kills in Colorado between the 1860s and 1960s. This is an ecological innovation driven largely by state game officials to attract sportsmen and tourists.However, moose are known to undergo dramatic population cycles, which, in combination with European settlement, could account for their scarcity in Colorado before 1978. Populations were known in southern Wyoming's Medicine Bow Mountains.
In 1978 and 1979, 4 bulls, 13 cows, 4 yearlings, and 3 calves were transferred from the Uinta Mountains (Utah) and Grand Teton (Wyoming) to an area near Rand, west of the Never Summer Mountains (Kawuneeche Valley is located just on the east side of this range). All radio collared, 12 each year. And today Kawuneeche Valley is a prime moose habitat, although sightings frequently occur even further, east of the Continental Divide, and even south to the upper Rio Grande valley.
Large herbivores have become so numerous in the Kawuneeche Valley, that they cause significant harm to the willow (Salix spp.) thickets and other plants, on which many other organisms depend. Elk is overpopulated, but rarer moose more specialized - 91.3% of its summer diets consist of six willow species.
This is accompanied by drought (caused by water diversion by Grand Ditch, lack of beavers, global climatic patterns) and the proliferation of a native fungus spread by a bird called the sapsucker (Sphyrapicus spp.). The primary fungus species is Grosmannia clavigera, but Ophiostoma is also present. The fungi kill the stems above the wells drilled by sapsuckers.
All these factors weaken the ability of the valley’s willows to generate new growth, their communities have declined, only few willow plants on the primary winter range produce seed. As a result, fully dependent on twigs and bark on willow stems North American beaver (Castor canadensis), actually living in symbiosis with willow, substantially recovered from fur-trapping by the mid-twentieth century, declined the Kawuneeche.
The most important bark beetle species in the Kawuneeche Valley are mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis).In recent years, these species have devastated forests on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Thanks to the ecologists and fisheries scientists the native Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus) is coming back, but introduced brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri) continue to compete with the Kawuneeche’s native fish.The Grand Ditch enabled fish to swim between the two basins and to mix previously isolated gene pools of two native trout subspecies — greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki stomias) from the eastern slope of the Rockies, and Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus) from the west.
There are a few historical places located in the valley or its vicinity, like:
Trout are species of freshwater fish belonging to the genera Oncorhynchus, Salmo and Salvelinus, all of the subfamily Salmoninae of the family Salmonidae. The word trout is also used as part of the name of some non-salmonid fish such as Cynoscion nebulosus, the spotted seatrout or speckled trout.
Rocky Mountain National Park is an American national park located approximately 76 mi (122 km) northwest of Denver International Airport in north-central Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the center of the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River located in the park's northwestern region. The main features of the park include mountains, alpine lakes and a wide variety of wildlife within various climates and environments, from wooded forests to mountain tundra.
The cutthroat trout(Oncorhynchus clarkii) is a fish species of the family Salmonidae native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean, Rocky Mountains, and Great Basin in North America. As a member of the genus Oncorhynchus, it is one of the Pacific trout, a group that includes the widely distributed rainbow trout. Cutthroat trout are popular gamefish, especially among anglers who enjoy fly fishing. The common name "cutthroat" refers to the distinctive red coloration on the underside of the lower jaw. The specific name clarkii was given to honor explorer William Clark, coleader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
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The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a subspecies of the cutthroat trout. It is a freshwater fish in the salmon family. Native only to a few U.S. states, their original range was upstream of Shoshone Falls on the Snake River and tributaries in Wyoming, also across the Continental Divide in Yellowstone Lake and in the Yellowstone River as well as its tributaries downstream to the Tongue River in Montana. The species is also found in Idaho, Utah and Nevada.
The Colorado River cutthroat trout is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native only to the Green and Colorado River basins, which are west of the Continental Divide. Cutthroat trout found in other river basins belong to other subspecies.
The greenback cutthroat trout is the easternmost subspecies of cutthroat trout. The greenback cutthroat, once widespread in the Arkansas and South Platte River drainages of Eastern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming, today occupies less than 1% of its historical range. It is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It was adopted as the state fish of Colorado on March 15, 1994 replacing the unofficial rainbow trout.
The westslope cutthroat trout, also known as the black-spotted trout, common cutthroat trout and red-throated trout is a subspecies of the cutthroat trout and is a freshwater fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. The cutthroat is the Montana state fish. This subspecies is a species of concern in its Montana and British Columbia ranges and is considered threatened in its native range in Alberta.
The Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a member of the family Salmonidae, is found in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in tributaries of the Rio Grande.,
Martis Creek is a northward-flowing stream originating on Sawtooth Ridge, west of the peak of Mount Pluto in Placer County, California, United States. After crossing into Nevada County, California, it is tributary to the Truckee River on the eastern side of Truckee.
The ecology of the Rocky Mountains is diverse due to the effects of a variety of environmental factors. The Rocky Mountains are the major mountain range in western North America, running from the far north of British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the southwestern United States, climbing from the Great Plains at or below 1,800 feet (550 m) to peaks of over 14,000 feet (4,300 m). Temperature and rainfall varies greatly also and thus the Rockies are home to a mixture of habitats including the alpine, subalpine and boreal habitats of the Northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and Alberta, the coniferous forests of Montana and Idaho, the wetlands and prairie where the Rockies meet the plains, a different mix of conifers on the Yellowstone Plateau in Wyoming and in the high Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico, and finally the alpine tundra of the highest elevations.
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Dr. Robert J. Behnke was an American fisheries biologist and conservationist who was recognized as a world authority on the classification of salmonid fishes. He was popularly known as "Dr. Trout" or "The Trout Doctor". His seminal work, Trout and Salmon of North America, was published in 2002. He wrote a regular column for Trout Magazine, the quarterly publication of Trout Unlimited. He was a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and a professor at Colorado State University in the 1970s. He became a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Fishery and Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University.
Costilla Creek is a tributary of the Rio Grande in Colorado and New Mexico.
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The White River is a 8-mile-long (13 km) southeastward flowing river in Wasatch and Utah Counties in eastern Utah. The White River is tributary to the Price River, which is in turn tributary to the Green River, and then to the Colorado River.
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