A lovable lost-looking trout trying to hitch a ride after abandoning a dried-up Upper Colorado riverbed is the subject of a video being circulated to tens of thousands of Coloradans.
The new video, produced by Trout Unlimited and the Defend the Colorado group, shows the trout panhandling in downtown Denver, where one driver hands the troubled fish a bottle of water, which the trout takes to desperately splash himself.
Commentary on the video addresses Denver Water's plans to siphon more water out of the Fraser and Upper Colorado rivers.
The short video was released starting last week "to raise public awareness about the plight of the Fraser River and Upper Colorado rivers, which are being depleted to death by water diversions to the Front Range," states a press release from Trout Unlimited.
"It's getting some pretty good play," said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.
So far the video is being sent to Trout Unlimited's membership, but starting this week, the organization is spreading it to a broader audience by reaching out to other conservation organizations such as the Colorado Wildlife Federation and American Rivers. Colorado's Trout Unlimited officials also hope the video and message spreads via social media.
"It's a lighthearted effort to highlight a serious problem: diversions are killing the Fraser River," Nickum said. "We're in danger of destroying a priceless state resource and major recreation area for Front Range residents. Coloradans need to tell Denver Water: Don't kill the river."
The video is intended to make more Denver residents aware of the river's plight. River advocates are also circulating a petition with the video, asking Coloradans to tell Denver Water to "finish the job" of protecting the Fraser by including safeguards for river habitat and water quality before moving forward with the Moffat Firming Project.
The defendthecolorado.org online petition calls for "flushing flows, water quality safeguards, habitat restoration, and long-term monitoring and accountability in the Moffat expansion proposal."
As of Wednesday, as many as 950 people had signed the petition, according to Nickum. Trout Unlimited eventually plans to present the petition to Denver Water to try and influence its actions concerning the project.
A poll on the same web page, presumably directed to Front Range and Denver residents, asks, "Is your household willing to do more to protect Colorado's rivers and wildlife?" and, should "Denver Water go the extra mile to protect the Fraser River and keep the source of our drinking water clean and healthy?"
"Colorado's quality of life and economy are tied to healthy rivers," said Jon Kahn of Confluence Kayaks in Denver. "I am just one of hundreds of business owners whose livelihoods depend on healthy flows and water quality in Colorado's rivers, including the Fraser."