Piney River Was Being Loved to Death

Piney RiverThe reach of the Piney River just below Piney Lake is wildly popular with campers, hikers, horseback riders, photographers and fishers. The Piney River Habitat Enhancement Project, a project of the Eagle River Watershed Council and the Forest Service, was designed to restore and improve habitat conditions for fish and animals that live along a two-mile section of the Piney River and adjacent lands just below the lake. The Piney River is a tributary of the Colorado River and converges with the Colorado just above State Bridge.

The photo below is a Google map photo of the area to be restored; Piney Lake is at the right hand side of the photo while Piney River runs across the center of the photo from the lake and just below the road which is the winding light colored line running across the middle of the photo.
Piney River Area Map

The Project

The restoration improved the degraded visual impact of the land around the river and provided improved habitats for fish and the insects they eat, as well as birds, beaver, deer, elk, and moose. This area was chosen because it contained a significantly low amount of in-stream pool habitat for fish, additionally there was heavy use of a number of unofficial campsites. A number of unauthorized roads also have been established over the years. Many of the campsites were within the 100-foot water buffer zone and a number of trees had been illegally cut. River banks were deteriorating and pine beetle killed trees were a threat to human safety.

Specific project activities

  • The installation of in-stream structures (whole trees) to create pools, cover, and riffles for fish.
  • Closure and revegetation of the non-compliant campsites within 100 feet of Piney River.
  • Designation and construction of compliant campsites at distances of greater than 100 feet from the river.
  • Removal and reseeding of user-created roads.
  • Installation of a two-mile long split rail fence to deter non-compliant camping and to designate compliant camping sites.
  • Revegetation of the area with transplanted trees and willow shoots.
  • Pre- and post-remediation monitoring of fish populations in selected stream reaches and areas.

Thank you to our supporters and project partners
  • National Forest Foundation Ski Conservation Fund
  • US Forest Service
  • SOS Outreach