What is a willow wattle?

Just ask Youth Conservation Corps kids or our 200 fall volunteers who helped revegetate the newly reconfigured banks of ERWC’s Edwards Eagle River restoration project. The volunteers cut 19,000 willow branches to create 900 wattles, or “logs” made from willow clippings surrounded by willow branches. The wattles were placed at the “toe” of the banks and staked in place with more willows which will grow next spring, holding the denuded banks that were falling into the river. The plantings will help prevent erosion as well as provide shade and cooling to benefit the health of the river and its fish. Heavy equipment worked inside an AquaDam and a silt curtain to add sinuosity, pools and riffles to the river which will result in a cooler, faster and deeper river during low flow. This 1.6 mile restoration will reconnect high quality fish habitats.

Water Quality

While the Eagle River Watershed Council has monitored the health of the watershed through fish sampling (photo below) and water testing for years, 2010 was a year of coordinated water quality monitoring and data analysis efforts. The ERWC is now managing a partnership which includes USGS, the US Forest Service, the Colorado Dep’t. of Wildlife, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, local towns and the County. Data collectors met to figure out what we need to know about the health of our rivers, how to obtain that information and how to interpret the data we collect. Threats to our waters include heavy metals from the Eagle Mine Superfund site, traction sand migrating off W. Vail Pass into Black Gore Creek, stormwater and urban runoff and nutrient loading. Stay tuned!

State of the Rivers

How are our rivers and creeks doing? In late 2010, we were proud to publish the first “State of the Rivers Report” which is a first phase to updating our community Eagle River Watershed Plan prepared in 1996. This publication, a joint effort of Eagle County and ERWC, summarizes current water issues and opportunities for our watershed and includes what future priorities for different areas of the basin should be. The report has been submitted to elected and appointed officials in the watershed and is also available on our website HERE.

Keep it Clean!

Community Pride is the theme of ERWC’s best known events— the Eagle River Clean Up and the Community Pride Highway Clean Up. You know…the orange bags along the highway, 1000 volunteers, 25 tons of trash removed from 121 miles of highway and 58 miles of river. This year we had to reschedule the Highway Clean Up due to an onslaught of May snow. But, as usual, dedicated teams rose to the occasion and the orange bags piled up along the highways—to be carried off by event partner CDOT. The River Clean Up enjoyed sun and warm temperatures, keeping volunteers long into the afternoon at the thank you party at the Wolcott Yacht Club. Vail Resorts Echo is Presenting Sponsor of both events and Arrowhead Alpine Club’s volunteers prepare and serve the BBQ lunches. Mark Saturday, May 7, and Saturday, September 17, on your calendar so you can join us for 2011’s events! Who knows what treasures you might find?!

ERWC Finances at a Glance

Funding 2010

Spending 2010