Colorado Population of the Stone Fly Claassenia sabulosa (Banks) (Plecoptera: Perlidae)
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In 1842 and 1843 John C. Frémont crossed the Cache la Poudre River near present day city of Fort Collins in early summer and noted a clear river that was running across clean gravel (Jackson and Spence 1970). At that time native greenback cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki (Richardson) occurred throughout the river, even as far East as Greeley depending on the extent of the water year or sequence of years (Fausch and Bestgen 1997). No doubt dynamic diverse benthic macroinvertebrate communities existed throughout the length of the Poudre River, transitioning from typical higher elevation southern Rocky Mountain taxa in the upper canyon reaches (Ward et al. 2002) to perhaps a unique mix of these taxa and more typical High Plains Steppe taxa along the Front Range. Unfortunately, no surveys or collections of these taxa apparently were made before the substantial impacts of irrigated agriculture, gravel mining, logging, channelization, and establishment of settlements by the 1860’s (Wohl 2001). It is known that several species of mayflies (Ephemeroptera) and stoneflies (Plecoptera) were extirpated from the lower Poudre River by the late 1880’s (Zuellig et al. 2011). Currently, the macroinvertebrate communities are composed of resilient species that can vary in diversity and abundance depending on the yearly flow regime of the river (Grotheer et al. 1994, Shieh et al. 1999, Voelz et al. 2000, Shieh et al. 2002, USGS 2003 [http://www.water.gov/nawqa], Voelz et al. 2005, Rice and Bestgen 2006).
The Cache la Poudre River watershed is one the most important river systems on the Colorado Front Range, providing numerous ecosystem and economic serves to the region before flowing into the South Platte and ultimately the Missouri River (Sanders et al. 1990). Recently, ecosystem integrity of the Poudre River has become a major focal concern because of the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a regional water supply project designed to serve the current and future needs of 12 towns in Larimer, Weld, Morgan, and Boulder counties (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2008).
The High Park fire began June 9, 2012 and burned for nearly a month before officially being contained on July 1, 2012. This was the largest and most destructive fire in Larimer County history burning more than 35,323ha (353.23 km2) including large areas of the Poudre River watershed ((#3). The loss of ground cover and riparian vegetation increased the risk of large amounts of debris, ash, and sediment being washed into the river through flash flooding.