Over the last 6 years, Gunnison Gorge Anglers has generated the original seed money at its Troutapalooza fundraiser for the rehabilitation of the river channel on Telluride’s sacred Valley Floor. Named “Best Trout Unlimited Conservation Project” for all of Colorado, our seed money has garnered additional grants totaling millions of dollars to execute this landmark project. Much of the work has been completed, restoring a vibrant, healthy riparian zone and improving recreational opportunities including fly fishing and paddle boarding.

The Telluride Town Council had approved and received funding to complete the next phase (Phase 2) of the VF Restoration work involving Society Turn Mine Tailings and the San Miguel River restoration at the west end of the Valley Floor. The total project cost of $3.3 million includes $1.4 million for the River Restoration and $1.93 million for the Tailings Remediation. The other project partners include Valley Floor Conservation Partners, Trout Unlimited, Idarado Mining Company, Colorado Water Conservation Board and the State of Colorado. Other local non-profits were involved in obtaining the funds from the CWCB.

Highlights of the Phase 2 Project include:

  • Habitat and channel restoration of over 1.5 miles of the river
  • Moving the river channel away from the 23 acre tailings pile
  • Utilizing existing berm material in the vicinity to isolate the tailings material from river and wetlands; this avoids hauling large amounts of material on paved roads
  • Preserve the spruce stands in that area

Completion of this phase in 2020 resolved the long-standing tailings pile issue. Combined with the Phase 1 work completed in 2016, these efforts will result in almost 3 miles of completed river restoration work on the Valley Floor.

There will be some additional mine tailings work this summer at a different location on the Valley Floor – see the Mine Tailings project report below.


San Miguel Valley Floor After


San Miguel Valley Floor Before