When you're battling an institution as powerful as Denver Water, it's best to have the will of the people, or at least a lot of average joes, on your side. Environmental groups trying to protect the Upper Colorado River basin from massive diversion projects that benefit Front Range development seem to have figured this out. For their latest campaign, aimed at keeping Denver Water from "sucking the Fraser River dry," they've managed to enlist the services of the ultimate little guy: a homeless trout.
A new 149-second video released by Trout Unlimited and other river stakeholders features a large, rather plush but unhappy trout abandoning a dying stream bed and heading out in search of damper horizons. He (or she?) manages to thumb (or fin) a ride to downtown Denver, where he joins the ranks of the forgotten and displaced, holding a cardboard sign that pleads, "Anything helps."
A motorist offers the miserable gillhead bottled water, but it really doesn't help much. Depending on your cinematic sensibility, the clip presents a stunning synthesis of the pathos of Chaplin, the bathos of Capra and the surrealism of Bunuel -- or a mercifully brief exploration of anthropomorphic lameness. Either way, it's awesome.
The larger objective, of course, is to urge viewers to sign a petition at the Colorado Headwaters Initiative site, calling on Denver Water to proceed with caution with its Moffat Tunnel expansion project. The tunnel already sends about 60 percent of the Fraser River's annual flow to the Front Range; the proposed expansion is expected to claim another 15 percent, which opponents fear will have a devastating effect on river health, wildlife -- and yes, trout.
Trout Unlimited and other groups recently hammered out an agreement with county and water conservancy district officials to mitigate the impacts on the Upper Colorado of the Windy Gap Firming Project, another expansion of a Grand County diversion project. Some environmentalists believe that deal didn't go far enough; but in order to avoid the double whammy that the Moffat project presents, many of the same interests are now pushing for Denver Water to adopt similar safeguards and long-term monitoring in its approach. The alternative, they say, may be a lot uglier than the prospect of a guy in a fish suit flying a sign on Wynkoop.
The video may be short, but every little bit helps, God bless. Check it out below:
More from our Environment archive: "Water wars: Deal reached on Upper Colorado diversion project."