Silverthorne man wins award for Blue River restoration
SUMMIT COUNTY – Andy Gentry still hasn’t fished the portion of the Blue River he won a national award for helping restore.
In fact, this dedicated fisherman has made it out only five times so far this year, way off his average of 50 or 60.
He’s been too busy working on the nine-month-long endeavor, holding down his job as a software salesman, building a house and constantly traveling to Denver to care for his daughter, who was born three months premature.
“The project took a lot of my fishing time,” he said.
Gentry was recently recognized by Trout Unlimited (TU), a national organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of trout and salmon fisheries and watersheds, for his “Distinguished Service” in helping propel the Blue River Restoration Project (BRRP).
The undertaking restored a section of the river, known for its “gold medal” fishing, that begins at the base of the Dillon Dam and extends north to the I-70 overpass at Wildernest Road.
The work rechanneled the water to reflect the reality of low flows from the dam, and created new banks.
It was completed in cooperation with the town of Silverthorne, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) and a variety of other organizations.
“He really brought a lot of energy to the table,” Silverthorne Town Manager Kevin Batchelder said of Gentry. “Without his energy I don’t think it would have worked quite so well.”
President of the Gore Range chapter of TU, Gentry coordinated a variety of fund-raising efforts that helped raise nearly $95,000, which was then matched by a grant from the National Forest Foundation, he said.
“The BRRP concept of a multi-jurisdictional project has become a reality due in large part to Andy’s commitment, dedication and untiring enthusiasm,” said Liz Finn, the NWCCOG coordinator for the Rural Resort Region. “Although the project team consisted of eight individuals, Andy is the only team member working purely on a volunteer basis.
“Without doubt, Andy’s contribution carried the strongest impact in achieving the results,” she said. “His accomplishments are truly inspirational.”
Gentry was awarded a plaque at TU’s national convention in Denver on Sept. 5, and was cited for his “leadership in coldwater conservation.”
“As we got further and further (into the restoration effort), I was convinced there was a big need for this,” Gentry said. “I think (the award) is a huge positive for the project.”
“There was a lot of dedication to this project from a lot of people,” Gentry said. “I think (it) went really well. I don’t think we could have asked for more.”
Gentry said the goal of the effort had been to give back to the river itself after all the impacts of mining and other human activities it had suffered.
“I think it bodes well for the Blue River,” he said. “It (also) really bodes well for other projects and other groups that are interested in doing this.
“To be able to go in and do such a dramatic change – I think we made a lasting impact on the river,” he said.
And now that his daughter is healthy and his house is almost finished, Gentry hopes to reap the rewards of his labors and actually fish the restored stretch of water by October.
Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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