Voices from the River: 'A River's Reckoning'

The new film “A River’s Reckoning,” produced by conservation groups Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, premiered Saturday at the 16th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, Calif., one of the nation’s most popular and prestigious environmental film festivals.

The film, an official selection of the festival, tells a deeply personal story of a family’s efforts to save their ranch by restoring the river that runs through it.

Paul Bruchez is a fifth-generation rancher whose family raises cattle in the upper reaches of the Colorado River near Kremmling, Colorado, where he also runs a private fly-fishing guide service. “A River’s Reckoning” highlights Paul’s awakening to the importance of river conservation and the legacy of his family’s ranch when drought and urban water diversions deplete the Colorado River, threatening Reeder Creek Ranch’s agricultural operations. When Art Bruchez, the family patriarch, is diagnosed with cancer, Paul and his younger brother Doug are forced to step in and take over.

This “river reckoning” pushes Paul and his family to confront new challenges and embrace new ways of thinking to keep their family’s ranch—and the agricultural community in the valley—alive and productive.

Paul and his brother rise to meet these challenges, working with neighbors, Trout Unlimited and other conservation partners to find innovative solutions that enhance their irrigation systems while restoring trout habitat in the river. TU helped the Bruchez family and their neighbors secure $2.5 million and provided technical expertise to build a series of natural riffle and pool structures in the river. The ambitious project, when completed, will raise river levels and restore habitat along 12 miles of river, benefiting both irrigation operations and the river’s world-class trout population.

“A River’s Reckoning” is a beautiful story of family, grit, and legacy, all in support of sustaining a ranch at 10,000 feet that depends heavily on stewardship of the Colorado River.

A River’s Reckoning from Trout Unlimited on Vimeo.

The film was a collaboration between Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, with generous support from River Network.

TU videographer Joshua Duplechian spent many hours with the Bruchez family during filming, documenting the ups and downs of ranch life and the family’s conservation vision.

“It was an honor to work with Paul and his family—I’m humbled that they let me into their lives, and gratified that their inspiring story is reaching a larger audience through the Wild and Scenic Film Festival,” said Duplechian. “TU partners with many ranchers and farmers like the Bruchez family who are quietly committed to land and water stewardship. They are fantastic people to work with – and unsung conservation heroes. I wanted urban dwellers to understand the water challenges faced by ranchers and farmers, as well as the ag community’s commitment to healthy rivers and habitat.”

“TU’s partnership with the Bruchez family and other ranchers in the Upper Colorado is forging a new model for how conservation gets done in the West,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water and Habitat Program. “It’s about collaboration, not conflict, and about finding pragmatic, win-win solutions. Working together, we’re putting the pieces of the Upper Colorado River basin back together. Agriculture producers like the Bruchez family are showing the way to a more sustainable and healthy future, both for rivers and rural communities. Their story is truly inspiring.”

To watch “A River’s Reckoning,” and to learn more about Trout Unlimited’s partnerships with farmers and ranchers on conservation projects: http://waterpartners.tu.org


said on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Yes, I`m just curious to find out how much of this river, where TU donated this money to help fix, is public fishable water and not private guide water. I love the idea of always working to support healthy sustainable water, but not when it`s only going to support guide companys and posh camps that charge upwards to $500.00 a day to fish and another $200.00 a night to sleep, and I`m not welcome as a public fisherman.


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