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Since the discovery of gold in 1859 in Clear Creek County and neighboring Gilpin County, it is doubtful that any Colorado body of water has been under more influence from historic mining activity …
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Since the discovery of gold in 1859 in Clear Creek County and neighboring Gilpin County, it is doubtful that any Colorado body of water has been under more influence from historic mining activity than Clear Creek.
During the Gold Rush era, an estimated 1,600 or more active mines were developed, with nearly all of those since abandoned.
Over the years, these orphan mines and related mine waste residuals have had negative impacts on the local fishery. Clear Creek’s revival began in the late 1980s, about the time that Ed Rapp arrived on the scene.
Rapp is being honored as Colorado Trout Unlimited’s conservationist of the year,
Then recently a retired colonel and director of resources for the Army Corps of Engineers, Rapps quickly assumed leadership roles in reclaiming and providing a long-term, comprehensive framework for the sustainability of the Clear Creek Watershed.
Acting as a county commissioner and concerned citizen, Rapp was an influential force in the early 1990s in getting the newly established Clear Creek/Central City Superfund study area placed on the national priority list for remediation of mining-related water-quality problems. Dissatisfied with the pace of work, stakeholder involvement, and lack of comprehensive scope of federal and state response, Rapp pushed for the Clear Creek Watershed Forum, the stakeholder constituency formed in 1991 to create a “culture of cooperation.”
Rapp has led additional efforts to successfully forge other organizations key to the current renaissance of Clear Creek. From among those grew the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation.
Incorporated in 1997, the foundation has been led by Rapp as its unpaid president since its inception.
Since 2004, Rapp has begun to supplement the foundation’s historical emphasis on water-quality issues with a broadened, more holistic agenda, and in 2006 the foundation won an EPA Regional Priorities Grant to look at the Clear Creek basin within a broader context of ecological, economic and social perspectives. He has also become active in influencing CDOT planning for future I-70 work, and led efforts to successfully thwart early plans that would have essentially destroyed the creek.
Rapp’s devotion to clean waters and the advancement of Clear Creek continues to be promoted through his dynamic vision, uniquely persuasive style and downright stubbornness. His good works with the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation brought recognition to the basin by the EPA as a “targeted watershed.” The foundation is often cited by EPA and the U.S. Forest Service as an “exemplary” program, and is frequently set forth as the template for others in the mountain West looking to establish a comparable Good Samaritan entity.
Over the years, West Denver Trout Unlimited has organized and managed several stream habitat restoration projects in the Clear Creek Watershed. West Denver Trout Unlimited is now considering pursuing designation of Clear Creek as its home waters.
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