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Input & Feedback Encouraged re: Operations on West Vail Pass, I-70

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) today released recommendations to improve safety and operations on West Vail Pass on Interstate 70. Virtual public engagement begins today and will continue through Oct. 21. CDOT welcomes input on all projects and feedback is encouraged during the virtual public engagement period.

The Proposed Action is a package of improvements including an eastbound and westbound auxiliary lane on I-70 on the west side of Vail Pass in Eagle County, from the East Vail exit (Mile Point 180) to the Vail Pass Rest Area (Mile Point 190). Other improvements include a widened inside shoulder, reconstruction of tight curves, wildlife underpasses and fencing, water quality improvements, truck ramp and parking enhancements, median glare screens and relocation of two miles of the recreation path that is currently next to I-70. The latest technology will be used to add variable speed limit and message signs and a way to close the pass immediately through a remote system when necessary.

A detailed description and evaluation of the Proposed Action has been documented in the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Section 4(f) Evaluation, which considers benefits, impacts, and proposed mitigation for numerous environmental and community resources. The EA and Section 4(f) Evaluation can be found on the project web page: www.bit.ly/WestVailPass.

Due to current limitations on public events during the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), CDOT will provide a virtual opportunity for public engagement. A video summarizing the study, findings, and next steps is available on the project web page and printed copies are available at the locations listed below. Community members are invited to view this at these materials at their convenience before submitting a comment. Public comments can be submitted any time during the 30-day public review period (Sept. 22 – Oct. 21).

Printed copies are available at the following locations:

Vail Public Library
292 W. Meadow Drive
Vail, CO 81657

Town of Vail Administration Office
75 S. Frontage Road
Vail, CO 8165

The report will be available for review and comment from today through Oct. 21. Public input will be considered by CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration prior to issuing a decision document to determine if the project can move forward as planned.

CDOT has obtained $140.4 M for construction of the first phase of improvements, which could begin in 2021. Funding includes a $60.7 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) gra awarded this summer by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If the project moves forward, CDOT will continue to pursue additional funding to complete the rest of the project.

To learn more about the project, join the mailing list, or submit comments, visit www.bit.ly/WestVailPass. Comments can also be provided via email cdot_wvailpassauxlanes@state.co.us or the project hotline phone number: 970-331-0200, or by mail to CDOT, attn: John Kronholm, PO Box 298, Eagle, CO 81631-0298.

new WVP logo side by side.jpg

www.bit.ly/WestVailPass

email: cdot_wvailpassauxlanes@state.co.us

26th Annual Eagle River Cleanup

September 12, 2020 , 7:30 am 10:00 am

We all love to play on our rivers and streams during the warm months but that love can take its toll. That’s why each September, we get down and dirty for a day of cleaning along the waterways that we all cherish.

This year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagle River watershed has experienced higher-than-normal river use rates, and while we’re grateful this precious resource has been able to provide stress relief, recreation, and opportunities for responsible gatherings, we know it is imperative to care for the river by removing trash and debris from our waterways.

The event will look and feel different this year, so that we can ensure regulations that protect public health are met, and while we are disappointed that we won’t be able to gather with a BBQ celebration at the end, we are anticipating a swelling of community pride and camaraderie that will be unmatched in the event’s 25-year history.

The Eagle River Cleanup, presented by Vail Resorts EpicPromise, is a hallmark event of the Watershed Council and one that shows the strength of our mountain community. More than 350 volunteers from local businesses, organizations, families and friends annually show their dedication to our valley by forming teams to clean up over 68 miles of Eagle County rivers and streams.

This event page will be updated as more details are available.

Pre-registration is required and the deadline is Friday, September 4th. For more information or to register, please email cleanup@erwc.org or call us at the office (970) 827-5406.

Epic Promise Logo_Stacked_10mtn_RGB
We are so grateful for our 2020 Eagle River Cleanup sponsors! Thank you!

Lunch with Locals – Virtual

August 25, 2020 , 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

We’re excited for this FREE virtual Lunch with Locals program on Tuesday, August 25, at noon and want to spread the word!
Join us in listening to Glenwood Springs resident Darcy Gaetcher, the first woman to kayak the Amazon River from source to sea, as she shares her tales of adventure and daring-do to promote her book “Amazon Woman.”
*
Email pwadden@vail.gov for the Zoom meeting link.

The Science Behind Your Watershed & River Restoration

August 14, 2020 , 9:00 am 2:00 pm

Walking Mountains Science Center and Eagle River Watershed Council have partnered to bring you an immersive hiking experience in your watershed. Join us for an easy backcountry hike along the Gore Creek Trail in East Vail, where the group will stop along the water to learn about subalpine headwater environments, indicators of a healthy stream system and human impact to our local streams and rivers. 


After 2-3 hours of hiking along the creek, our day will conclude at a restoration project site in East Vail. We will dive into the science behind watershed restoration and how you can take an active role to protect the Eagle River Watershed and beyond. 


Visit Walking Mountains website for more information and to register. This program is free to attend but preregistration is required and space is limited. If you’d like to join the van carpool, tickets are $10 (limit 6). 

August 14th | 9 AM – 2 PMGore Creek Trail | East Vail

Register here

Free Free to attend.

Weed Warriors of the Eagle River Valley

August 3, 2020 , 8:00 am 5:00 pm

Deadline to submit your completed bingo card for a chance to win a prize. Submit your completed bingo card via email to Sue and Kate at weeds@erwc.org by August 3, 2020. Mailed bingo cards can be sent to: P.O. Box 1477, Gypsum, CO 81637 – must be received by August 3.


Deadline to submit the Nomination Form and photos of the weeds you have found to nominate your neighborhood for the next round in our mitigation strategy. You do not need to complete the bingo card to submit a Nomination Form. Submit your signed nomination form and photos to Sue and Kate at weeds@erwc.org by August 3, 2020. Mailed submissions can be sent to: P.O. Box 1477, Gypsum, CO 81637 and must be received by August 3rd.



Weed-Warriors-Final-Logo (1)Join Eagle River Watershed Council, Eagle Valley Land Trust, Land & Rivers Fund and Eagle County to participate in this year’s inaugural Weed Warriors of Eagle Valley program! 
From now until August 3, we encourage participants to get out and inventory your invasive weeds. Please visit the Weed Warrior website to learn more about invasive weeds and download resources and a fun bingo activity.
Once you have identified the weeds in your area, we encourage you to complete and submit a nomination form for the chance to partner up for a “mini-mitigation” effort later this summer and a robust weed mitigation day in 2021Learn more here. 

Capture the Rain – Rain Barrel Workshop

July 28, 2020 , 6:00 pm 8:00 pm

Rain collection, also known as rain harvesting, was previously illegal in the state of Colorado. But in 2016, Colorado House Bill 16-1005 passed allowing residents to collect up to 110 gallons at a time to water lawns, plants and gardens.

Join Eagle River Watershed Council this July to learn all about rain barrels in Colorado, the laws behind them, how to put them to use and how to build your own. This is the perfect way to get the most out of monsoon season here in Eagle County – converting old Coca-Cola syrup drums into a rain collection systems.

The event will be held outside in the grass at Boneyard in Eagle Ranch. Social distancing procedures will be in place, and we ask that participants wear masks when walking around the event. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Tickets are $45. Price includes a rain barrel and a hardware kit. Tools will be provided at the event for on-site assembly. Space is limited. Pre-registration required.

We are sorry, this event has SOLD OUT. We hope it will become an annual occurance, however, so please sign up to receive our enewsletter to get word of the event in 2021.


Did you pick up a rain barrel from us for this event?
We created a video with the workshop’s content to guide you in building your barrel. Watch the video here.


$45 Price includes a rain barrel and a hardware kit.

Boneyard

1099 Capital Street
Eagle, Colorado 81631 United States
+ Google Map

In the News – Flylords Magazine Feature

Please check out the article, run in Flylords Magazine, here.

Restore The Gore

The revival of the heart of Vail

By Andrew Braker -July 17, 2020

Vail has long been known as a great destination for fly fishing. The fishing opportunities surrounding the town, including Gore Creek, the Eagle River, the Colorado River, and the surplus of alpine lakes and streams, have always lured anglers to this location. 

Landscape view of the Vail Valley including a pond and the Gore Mountain Range
Courtesy of the Town of Vail

Gore Creek—the creek that runs through the heart of Vail—provides anglers with the unique opportunity to catch a “Colorado Grand Slam” (catching a rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat trout from the same body of water on the same day)! Sunny and 70’s, pulling out different species on each take, and being surrounded by beautiful mountain vistas … Gore Creek is hard to beat.

Brook trout in hand.
Courtesy of @ericbraker

While fishing on Gore creek can be epic, the stream’s condition is much different than it was a few decades ago. Today, the stream faces problems of pollutants from urban runoff, drainage from pavement and rooftops, and the loss of streamside vegetation that filters pollutants and slows their drainage. In order to learn more about the history of Gore Creek and the ongoing restoration work that is happening, we met up with Pete Wadden, the Watershed Education Coordinator for the Town of Vail.

Q & A 

Flylords: 

Hey Pete! So where does the story behind Gore Creek begin?

Pete Wadden: 

I’ll go back to the initial development of the town. Vail is actually pretty young. Construction on the town began in 1962, and the town grew very slowly up until the late 70’s. But from the 80’s until the present day, there was an explosion of growth that led to the rapid development of Vail and the surrounding Eagle Valley. Within a period of about 50 years, the valley went from being a fairly untouched area, consisting of beaver swamps and marshes, meandering streams, and natural forests, to a place with near-urban levels of development, and an interstate highway.

Night time scene of the town of Vail.
Courtesy of @mr._ford

Flylords:

How did this development affect Gore Creek?

Pete Wadden:

When these early developments were happening, people weren’t really thinking of the impact it would have on the stream. As the land started to be developed, Gore Creek was channelized and redirected away from the prime building locations. These developments had negative impacts on the water quality, water speed, water temperature, and the amount of valuable habitat. As you can imagine, this had a negative impact on the trout fishery.

Person casting on Gore Creek with mountains in the background.
Courtesy of @ericbraker

Flylords:

What is the Town of Vail doing to help get Gore Creek back on its feet?

Pete Wadden:

In 2016 the town introduced the “Restore the Gore” initiative. The initiative focuses on three main aspects: 1) Riparian Restoration, 2) Stormwater, and 3) Landscaping Practices.

We are about to surpass our goal of planting 10,000 native trees and shrubs along the creek. We have also started a project called “Project Rewild”—a public/private cost share that helps private property owners restore their property. This is especially important considering that 60% of the watershed is privately owned. Another popular initiative is the artwork that we feature next to the town’s storm drains. Each summer we have local artists create pieces that depict Gore Creek’s native habitat. Pieces (like the one below) are featured next to the storm drains to help educate the public on the idea that “what goes in here, ends up there.”

Painting of a cutthroat trout swimming in a stream
Courtesy of @mandyhertz_flyart

Flylords:

What does the future of Gore Creek look like?

Pete Wadden:

There is a lot of work ahead of us, but the future looks good. The health of the creek, and the strength of the fishing will only be improving from here on out. With the help from the town, local nonprofits, and the stewardship of private landowners, Gore Creek will continue to get healthier with time.

Two people restoring the riparian buffer of the creek
Courtesy of the Town of Vail

Flylords:

Are there any lessons to be learned from Gore Creek’s story?

Pete Wadden:

Many fly anglers are already aware of the fact that waterways, like Gore Creek, are valuable ecosystems—places with trout, insects, habitat, clean water, and endless other factors that help create a cohesive ecosystem. The biggest takeaway message from Gore Creek’s story is that we need to think of Gore Creek as a holistic ecosystem, not just a channel of water.

Painting of angler wading in Gore Creek, with adult flies flying around.
Courtesy of @mandyhertz_flyart

To learn more about the restoration of Gore Creek, follow along on Instagram @restoregorecreek.

Article written by Flylords Content Team Member Andrew Braker.