Montrose, CO — Montrose City Engineer Scott Murphy was recently recognized for his work to protect and preserve the Uncompahgre River running through the community with the Gila Trout Award from the Arizona Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The award is given to recognize an individual who has shown remarkable leadership and commitment to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on water, trout, other wildlife, and their habitats.
Because the upper Colorado River basin serves as the headwaters of Arizona’s watershed, individuals living outside of Arizona but having an impact on Arizona’s water system are eligible to be nominated.
The virtual 2021 Native and Wild Trout Conference was held on April 22.
Murphy was praised for improving the quality of life for Montrose residents and visitors with the recent completion of Phase 1 of the Uncompahgre River Improvements Project. The project greatly improved both the recreational and fishing assets of the river, while preserving the natural habitat of the river for decades to come.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited said they were proud to recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations that have made exceptional contributions to the conservation, protection, and restoration of native and wild trout and their habitat in the southwest. Their efforts, whether through expertise, advocacy or education, inspire and encourage others to help protect nature for the enjoyment of all.
“I am very excited to see this award come to Montrose and it speaks volumes to the amazing team we have here focused on the long-term health of the Uncompahgre River,” Murphy said.
Construction of the Uncompahgre River Improvements Project started last fall and included the stabilization of riverbanks, restoration of a more natural stream system, improvement of aquatic and riparian habitats, and improvement of river access and fishing opportunities for the public. The project was made possible through a partnership with the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority and with the assistance of $784,000 in grants received from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
In a letter to the Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited, Mayfly Outdoors Founder David Dragoo said Murphy “led the private donation and preservation of over 41 acres of wetlands and river corridor from private parties to the City of Montrose, permanently protecting over 1.7 miles of riverway. This resulted in the single largest land donation for river and wetlands preservation in Montrose, totaling nearly $800,000 in value.”
“Our community is better because of Scott and the projects noted above are leaving a positive, lasting impact on Montrose,” Dragoo said.
Dragoo said Murphy led the successful grant application, procurement, and construction of the $2 million Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) trail project along the river, completing nearly 1.7 miles of new trail and river access points along the Uncompahgre River.
It should be noted that the $2 million GOCO grant was the largest grant the City of Montrose has ever received.
Dragoo said this “phenomenal achievement for Montrose” was possible because Murphy was able to bring together several public entities and private groups to work together.
Dragoo said Murphy also led the funding, design, and construction procurement of the massive river restoration project, including $160,000 in river design, $1 million in city funding, $600,000 in matching grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and nearly $800,000 in privately donated property.
“This project would not be possible without the remarkable leadership, tireless efforts, and vision of City Engineer Scott Murphy. Besides his outstanding credentials as a practicing engineer, Scott is an amazing leader and a champion of conservation,” Dragoo said. “There is no other single person more directly responsible for the river improvements and conservation achievements in Montrose over the last three years than Scott.”
In addition to these recent river improvements, Dragoo also noted that Murphy led the completion of a pedestrian bridge replacement over the river while working to secure nearly $1 million in grant awards to redesign the Riverbottom Park entrance and public facilities, “allowing better and safer river access for kids and families.”
“We are so proud to have Scott Murphy on our City of Montrose and Montrose Urban Renewal Authority team,” said Montrose City Manager Bill Bell. “Scott's very high level of professionalism, engineering expertise, and consistently positive attitude made it possible for him to complete this amazing project as team leader for an outstanding group of team members including Kendall Cramer, David Dragoo, Craig Baker, MURA, Colorado Outdoors, Montrose City Council and the river project advisory committee members...just to name a few.”
The Uncompahgre River Improvements Project was completed under budget, ahead of schedule, and injury-free.
More about the project can be found here.
WATCH a video overview of the project here.