In 2008, the Pagosa Quality Fishing Project secured $50,000 ($25,000 from the Pagosa Town Tourism Committee) with most monies allotted to the release of more than 8,000 trout into the San Juan River.
The San Juan, running through the Town of Pagosa Springs, offers easy access for anglers of all ages and skill levels to experience solitude and bountiful fishing. With tourism dollars slipping in many towns (as much as 25 percent), PQFP set a goal to keep anglers visiting the waters of Pagosa Springs throughout the year and maintain its tourism market share by using the town’s natural resource — fishing.
With the river stocked with trout, anglers not only experience catching quality large fish, but also increased numbers of fish in a relaxing and scenic Pagosa Springs setting.
“In as little as three months into the project, we began to see the concept of solitude and bountiful fish already paying for itself and reaching beyond our expectations with five to ten percent visitor increases,” said Thaddeus Cano, former project chairman. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Cano was on target. Their recent report demonstrates that, by any measure, season after season hunters and anglers are an economic powerhouse, driving an economy from big businesses to rural towns, through booms and recessions.
Pagosa Quality Fishing Project, faced with a serious shortfall of funding, made serious decisions as to the future of the project in 2009. Last summer, the project reduced its stocking with a 50-percent budget reduction, initiated three stockings of 2,000 trout, and, unfortunately completely cut the stocking of the town ponds (access fishing for children and handicap). Even with the severely cut budgets, committee members were focused on keeping the economic impact of fishing in Archuleta County positive by creatively seeking funds to support the project. Even with tough economic times, local business donations provided over $18,000 in support of the project last year (specifically for trout stocking).?
This year, PQFP needs to raise $29,000 to fund the project and stock through the summer. TTC allocated $4,500 for the 2010 project, however, the committee stipulated those funds could only be used on marketing the project and not fish stocking. PQFP will conduct fund-raisers to gather money for three stockings (June, July and August).
On Saturday, June 19, two local businesses, Ski & Bow Rack and JJ’s Upstream Restaurant ?hosted a fund-raiser barbecue in their parking lot and raised nearly $2,000.???????
Artisans of the Southwest Gallery and Winery will host a fund-raiser for PQFP, with a silent auction and art show on Friday, July 9, 5-8 p.m. “Fishy, Fishy” features photographs by local photojournalist and gallery owner Wen Saunders. Colorful photographs of fishing lures, angler flies, and PQFP angler scenes are available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the project. The show also features Saunders’ special edition angler glass trivets, occasion cards, and a commemorative poster. Silent auction items can be bid on at the show’s opening reception with items including gift certificates from local restaurants, businesses and hotels, art, and an abundance of angler items. Several local anglers will auction their hand-created flies, adding special excitement to the auction. A cash bar with fine wines and beer will be available, along with anglers and their fish stories. This will be a fun evening for all, with the benefit of supporting this project.
For more information about this event or to donate a silent auction item, contact Wen Saunders, 264-9969.
If you would like to donate to Pagosa Quality Fishing Project, send your donation to PQFP, P.O. Box 4486, Pagosa Springs, CO 81157.
For more PQFP information, contact Saunders, PQFP marketing director, at 264-4486.