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Swan River restoration in Breckenridge works toward natural course (video)
June 14, 2017

Under the watchful eye of Breckenridge's Tenmile Range, the recently rerouted Swan River continues to flow this spring, smoothing out rough patches and getting used to its new path.

More than a year ago, Summit County's Open Space & Trails Department with the town of Breckenridge — in addition to a multitude of other partners — initiated the renovation project south of Muggins Gulch Road ahead of Rock Island Road to rid the area of some of its centuries-old mining past. In search of gold, dredge boats destroyed the stretch of water that funnels into the Blue River. Further upstream mounds of rock for as far as the eye can see are what remain.

At a cost of $2.4 million, the first 1-mile phase of the concept wrapped up last fall in the hopes of restoring forestland and riparian areas, as well as recreating wildlife habitat and a self-sustaining trout fishery. Three other mile-long stream segments are left to be addressed over perhaps the next decade, but this summer the focus is on revegetation of the finished section and allowing the river to discover a bit of its own course.

Telluride Daily Planet
History made right, as river is restored
October 19, 2016

It is believed that the San Miguel River was channelized (straightened) to make it easier to transport out tailings from mining operations in the early 1900s. Environmental advocates have long regarded that decision as a disastrous turning point for the once thriving riparian and wetland habitat.

Thanks to the Valley Floor River Restoration Project, the San Miguel River on the west side of Telluride finally was reunited on Sunday with its natural meanderingways.

The plan for the "new" river route was based on aerial photography taken before the channelization had taken place. This helped project officials in finding the general area where the river had once been. They then were able to accurately locate the original alignment by studying the prominence of gravel layers in the area.

Telluride Daily Planet
Restore San Miguel River
April 3, 2015

When Telluride purchased the Valley Floor in 2008 with the intention of preserving the open space in perpetuity, organizers immediately got to work figuring out how to restore any human tinkering that had degraded the wilderness.

One of the biggest human impacts on the Valley Floor was the channelization of the once-meandering San Miguel River approximately 125 years ago, pushing the waterway into an unnatural straight line on the western edge of the valley. That crime against nature could be reversed in a $1.6 million plan presented to Telluride Town Council on Tuesday.

The ambitious engineering project would focus on a section of the river from the sewer lagoons near Entrada to Boomerang Road, restoring the flow to the historic route of the river — a pathway that can be seen in old photographs and is hinted at in the current topography of the 570-acre green space.

“What we’re doing in this situation is we’re actually moving the flow path of the San Miguel River,” said Dave Blauch, a senior ecologist for Ecological Resource Consultants, Inc., a group that is assisting in the river restoration project. “The concept has been to pull it out on the Valley Floor to function more naturally.”

A Place for Fish to Thrive
February 26, 2014

MONTROSE - The bucket of a yellow swallowed large chucks of river bottom Tuesday, reshaping the flow of the Uncompahgre River with each pass. And that is the goal. Anglers who hunt texcavatorrout along the river will notice a significant difference in the appearance of the river as improvements to fishing habitat are compleeted.

Heavy equipment and surveyors with Ecological Resources Consultants Inc., based in Evergreen, have spent the last two weeks digging and carefully creating new aquatic habitat along a 1,500-foot stretch of the river. The project begins at Montrose Recreation District's property behind the softball fields in Baldridge Park and extends north past the handicapped fishing bridge.

David Blauch, Vice President and Senior Ecologist with Ecological Resources Consultants, said the work will improve the aquatic habitat for all native fish species and create a better low-flow channel in the river.

Blauch explained that the river at 60-feet wide, was "one continuous riffle" and during low flow periods like winter, was too shallow for fish to thrive in.

Summit Daily News
Ten Mile Creek gets some overdue TLC
August 31, 2013

Ten Mile Creek near Copper Mounatin is somewhat featureless. Its channels are straight. The banks are dotted with lodgepole pine and few other species.

However, humans have impacted this area, along the east side of Highway 91, for about 150 years.

Over time, mining, timber harvest, development, railroads and highway construction have altered the course of the creek, norrowing its floodplain and creating widespread depostis of sediment.

"In a different condition, there would have been richer soil, wetland species, willows, shrubs and sedges," said Justin Anderson, U.S. Forest Service hydrologist.

Steamboat Today
City of Steamboat Springs Fournier Park Yampa River Restoration
November 15 2012

The city of Steamboat Springs is starting to see the benefits of hefty grants from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Bureau of Land Management as crews work this week to restore a stretch of the Yampa River just west of town.

Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department supervisor Craig Robinson said Wednesday that crews with Nordic Excavating and Ecological Resources Consultants have embarked on a month long project that will install boulder clusters and shape channels in the river to improve its aquatic habitat and make it more habitable to fish and anglers alike.

Civil Engineeering
Colorado City Plans Enhancement to south Platte River
March 2012

Recently approved plans for enhancing portions of a2.4 mi. long segment of the South Platte River in Littleton, Colorado, aim to improve ecological conditions on a heavily modified urban waterway whose flow regime was significantly reduced more than 30 years ago. a chief goal of the project is to alter the channel in various wayus, essentially recalibratin it so that it will conform more closely to its current hydrologic conditions. In return, the revamped section of river is expected to function in a more natural way and sustain increased populations of fish and wildlife.

The stretch of the South Platte River that is the focus of the enhancement plan is encompassed within the 878- acre South Platte Park, which is owned by the City of Littleton and managed by South Suburban Parks and Recreation, a quasi municipal corporation that is based in Centennial, Colorado, and over-sees parks for Littleton and five other cites.

City of Littleton Colorado
City Council Approves South Platte River Enhancements
January 11, 2012

Enhancements to the South Platte River through South Platte Park will start soon in an effort to support the life that depends on the river for sustenance and the community that enjoys the recreation the river provides.

The Littleton City Council and the South Suburban Parks and Recreation (SSPR) Board of Directors approved a concept plan in mid-December prepared by Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC).

Dave Blauch, Senior Ecologist for ERC said, “The plan we developed is a conceptual design for the ecological enhancement of the South Platte River through South Platte Park. The plan was developed based on the identification of limiting factors within the aquatic and riparian environment. Due to many surrounding influences, the channel is out of balance with its natural equilibrium and low flow conditions are one of the single most limiting factors within the system. The enhancements focus on those factors that would best improve the overall ecological condition.”

Since the construction of Chatfield Dam and the associated controlled water release, peak annual flows have been reduced from 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to an average of 650 cfs.

Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman said, “This is a very ambitious project but it comes with a long-term payoff. As custodians of the river we are committed to maintaining its health and vitality. Since construction of the Chatfield Dam, the river’s flow has been altered and we must make adjustments to support its fish and wildlife habitat.”

The total project cost is estimated at more than $4 million. Phase I will begin later this year at a cost of $433,000. Funding partners include: The City of Littleton, SSPR, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Trout Unlimited. The partners will explore additional grant opportunities.

High Country Angler
Urban River Restoration
Fall 2010

In 2005 the Denver Chapter of Trout Unlimitted (DTU) embarked on a journey to complete a river restoration project within our home waters. Meandering through the Denver-metro area, the urban section of the South Plaatte River was an unlikely candidate for any other chapter - not considered a coldwater environment and distressed from decades of developoment and habitat degredation. But what the urban South Platte River lacks as a fishery it makes up for through its proximity to Denver's urban core, providing young people and the greater Denver-metro community and opportunity to experience a real river ecosystem in their oun backyard.

As designed by longtime TU partner Ecological Resource Consultants, the demonstration project's main features consist of band stabilization to reduce sediment, the enhancement of an existing connection to an adjoining lake that serves as a place of refuge during exztremely high and low flows, and riffle and pool sequences located in front of a new handicapped-accessible fishing pier adjacent to the existing Carson Nature Center.

Draft Valley Floor Trails, River Plan Revealed
September 16, 2010

TELLURIDE - Consultants unveiled a conceptual plan for Valley Floor trails and river restoration at a lightly attended public meeting last week that would increase pedestrian and bicycle trails on the 572-acre property and return the San Miguel River to a more ecologically functioning waterway.

At an estimated soup-to-nuts cost of around $6 million (including sewer line relocation, revegetation, bridges, monitoring and maintenance costs, and contingencies) to complete the project with professional crews, however, the consultants admitted that the vision was ambitious.

"This is what we would do if we could," said Troy Thompson, president of Ecological Rresource Consultants, the Evergreen, Colorado based firm retained to develope the plan.

Hardly newcomers to the property awarded to the town by the Colorado Supreme Court in June 2008 after a lengthy and costly condemnation battle, ERC completed a comprehensive environmental report on the property in March 2009.

High Country Angler
Boulder Flycasters Restores Middle Boulder Creek
Summer 2010

Today, a skilled angler can catch wild trout just about anywhere on Middle Boulder Creek, from the headwaters of the Indian Peak Wilderness through bustling downtown Boulder. Until recently however, one would not have found many fish within this half mile stretch located approximately nine miles up the canyon from Boulder. Purchased in 1994 by Boulder County and designated as Open Space, Platt Rogers Memorial Park was originally owned by the Rogers family. At the time Boulder County acquired the property, the river was severely degraded due to a multi-year a sawmill operation, the construction and later widening of Highway 119, as well as floods and pollution. While the surrounding land was intact, the trout habitat was severely compromised and demanded attention.

Following on the heels of two other successful chapter projects, the Boulder Flycasters (BFC) Board of Directors discussed tackling another Significant environmental project within our "home waters" on either South or Middle Boulder Creek. After exploring different options, the BFC Board decided to restore Platt Rogers Memorial Park as the chapter's primary conservation effort to close out the decade. Tremendously excited about the project, but blissfully unaware of what was going to be required, Roger Svendsen volunteered to lead the project. When he asked if any of the BFC Board members would join the effort, all hands went up. This was an encouraging start -right away we had thirteen chapter members with a tremendous amount of experience and diverse backgrounds ready to go to work.

Angling Trade Magazine
Ecological Resource Consultants Prove,“If You Build It (Or Improve It), They Will Fish”
March 2010

For years, the real estate world has been driven by an adage that the three things that matter most are location, location, and location.

As for fly fishing (or all fishing, for that matter) the long-term success of any body of water, in terms of its ecological viability and/or, (dare I say it) economic value—sport fishery, commercial fishery, whatever—can be boiled down to a similar mantra. When all is said and done, its about habitat, habitat, and habitat.

There are arguably few species so revered by fly anglers, and yet so susceptible to the devastating effects of ruined habitat, than trout and salmon. But some of us are just now waking up as to the habitat protection efforts that can and should be applied in order to keep us all in business, 20 years down the road.

Interestingly, most of the habitat-driven efforts in the fly/trout world right now revolve around protecting the God-given public resources we collectively enjoy. Enlisting on behalf of these causes to save and preserve public trout habitat is a darn good thing, for the retailer, the manufacturer, the guide, and otherwise.

But there’s also an aspect of habitat cultivation that has been woefully undertapped by both public and private interests. The truth is, it’s possible to take a trout-unfriendly environment, make some changes, and create a fly fishery. More likely, it is possible to take marginal water, and make a great fishery. And that’s exactly what Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC), an Evergreen and Boulder, Colorado-based consulting firm does.

ERC is quick to point out, however, that there’s far more to stream restoration and improvement than dropping a few rocks in the river and using a backhoe to dig deep pools.

Daily Camera
Boulder Creek makeover
April 29, 2009

As David Blauch stepped closer to the creek, he saw a couple of shadows dart under the eave of a big rock.

"That's exactly what you want," he said, pointing to the trout he'd just frightened into the shadows.

The massive rock now sitting in Boulder Creek, parting the frigid waters and creating an eddy of still water where a trout can hide, is new to the stream. Just a week age, this section of the creek near the top of Boulder Canyon ran wide and shallow, with uniform ripples stretching for a half mile witrh barely a boulder in sight.

"All the larger rocks are placed to increase habitat," said Blauch, vice president and senior ecologist for Ecological Resource Consultants in Boulder.

Telluride Daily Planet
Guided by science, managing the Valley Floor
February 3, 2009

Back in the summertime, a small team of scientists descended on the Valley Floor. They studied the wetlands and examined the plants, researched the history, did tests on the soils, checked out migration paths, jotted down existing wildlife and gathered piles of data.

The scientists, from Ecological Resources Consultants, have turned this mountain of information into a draft environmental report - complete with recommendations to the town on how to manage its Valley Floor.

The draft report is out there for public consumption, and today the town-hired consultants are holding a meeting to discuss, explain and gataher feedback on their report.

Safari Club International
Improving Trout Habitat and Fishing Opportunities below the Dillon Dam

Often overlooked by the angler in pursuit of the 10 pounders that lay below the outlet works of many of the State's dams is the impact that these structures have on the overall quality of aquatic habitat downstream. By altering the amount and pattern of flows in the river and cutting off the natural sediment load that would otherwise be transported through the river, dams often lead to poor downstream habitat. Such was the case for the Blue River below the Dillon Reservoir in Summit County.

The Blue River below Dillon Dam has long been one of the most productive and heavily fished stretches of water in the State. Never does a day go by, regardless of weather, without at least one angler trying to outwit the river's wise fish. The problem with the heavily fished section directly below the dam was that quality habitat was limited and fishing pressures in the few good holes was fierce. "During the summer months people were faced with the choice of fishing shoulder to shoulder with other anglers or finding a different stream to fish", said Barry Kirkpatrick, co-owner of Cutthroat Aanglers in Silverthorne.

Our primary goal for the project was to recreate prime trout habitat that would remain intact for at least a 50-year time period. With that in mind, we quickly realized this was not going to be a humble "rock-rolling" project. Dave Blauch from Environmental Resource Consulting (ERC), and a BFC member, completed the preliminary project design and prepared an estimated budget of $23SK which included cash, materials, and volunteer labor. The project plan called for significant bank restoration and protection, ten riffle, pool, glide sequences, 1,000 tons of boulders and cobble, 450 native shrubs and trees, 3,000 native grass plugs, 3,000 volunteer hours and the coordination of a dozen different organizations.

Telluride Daily Planet
What's out there on the Valley Floor?
December 10, 2008

Before it legally took the Valley Floor from its previous owner, Telluride appraised the land at its doorstep at $26 million.

After a protracted court case, the town paid $50 million.

Now that Telluride owns the Floor, the town has paid for a more thorough appraisal of its ecological health, and a team of ecologist from Boulder has spent the past several months surveyuing the floor.

The team presented its findings over the past two days to a Rebekah Hall room filled with dozens of the Valley Floor's proud new owners.

What the town got was a long, skinny glacier deposit bursting with eclogical diversity, wetlands, native prairie dogs and a possible migration path for an endangered species (lynx), historical artifacts from the valley's first settlers to a fairly recent pair of sewer ponds. The Floor is a mix of highly sensitive wetlands and cruddy mine tailings.

Valley Floor Management Plan Workshop Thursday
July 22, 2008

TELLURIDE - Maybe you want dogs to have free run of the Valley Floor. Or maybe you don't. What about horses - should they be allowed? How about building new trails or river restoration?

Anyone who has something to say about future managemenet of the Valley Floor is invited to weigh in on its destiny at a workshop this Thursday evening at Rebekah Hall. At that time Ecological Resource Consultants, the firm contracted to complete a comprehensive environmental report on the 572-acre parcel and adjacent wetlandes, will be on hand to walk the public through its information gathering and reporting process, answer questions and hear input during the first of four woorkshops designed to bring the community into the discussion.

Vail Daily
Minturn river project starting to take hold
July 13,2004

When Kris and Kelly Wyatt look out their living room window over the Eagle River in Minturn they like what they see.

There new home is right in the middle of a $1.1 million, mile long river restoration project completed this week and paid for by fines levied against Viacom, the owner of the Eagle Mine. Mine pollution in the mid '80s to the early '90s killed seven miles of river through Minturn to its confluence with Gore Creek at Dowd Junction.

In the last year, the Wyatts said they've noticed more fishermen usingthe river, which had beenreshaped and revegegtated to return it ot a healthier state.

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