The Watershed Council collaborated with Public Access TV 5 to produce this wonderful video highlighting the successful Edwards Eagle River Restoration Project! Illustrative before & after footage, great music, & some wildlife shots make this an excellent way to wrap up the project!
How did we select the Edwards area for restoration?
The Eagle River Watershed Council spearheaded a broad research project led by Colorado State University in 2003: The Eagle River Inventory and Assessment. The Edwards/Lake Creek segment of the Eagle River was identified through this research as a high priority segment of the river corridor with good water quality but with substantially degraded riparian habitat. This provides the best available opportunity in the Eagle River watershed to reconnect existing high quality habitats and reestablish wetland and riparian functions on a disproportionately large scale. This research was designed to be a non-biased, science based tool for the community and funding partners to use when making decisions about where limited resources should be spent to get the most ecological bang for the buck in the Eagle River watershed.
The Edwards Eagle River Restoration entire project site is roughly 1.6 miles long covering an area of 168 acres. The project site begins about one-half mile downstream of the Edwards bridge and ends at the Hillcrest Drive bridge. Restoration, enhancement and protection is proposed on both north and south banks, in the river channel as well as within the floodplain. As in all river projects, our most important partners are the landowners. All restoration work has been coordinated with the approval and support of all landowners in the reach.
View Edwards Eagle River Restoration Project in a larger map
Why is this segment of the river the most important to restore in our watershed?
The Edwards reach of the Eagle River main stem contains areas of poor quality aquatic habitat, which effectively disconnects high quality riparian and aquatic habitats that are present upstream and downstream. Channel conditions and aquatic habitat have been degraded by past agricultural land use practices coupled with increasing development linked with non-point source pollution supply. The most significant impacts are from fine sedimentation, livestock grazing and denuded riparian vegetation. In this lowest gradient reach of the Eagle River, the channel is unable to mobilize the excessive sedimentation. As a result the channel has local aggradation zones, which are areas where built-up sediment has raised the riverbed, and problems with channel widening, which increases the width to depth ratio and decreases habitat value. The fine sediment has been identified as significant habitat for the tubifex worm, a prime vector for whirling disease. Further, large quantities of silt have been deposited throughout this stretch, reducing insect populations and trout hiding cover.
Goals and Objectives
The overall goal of the Edwards Restoration Project is to improve habitat and function in the Edwards reach of the Eagle River and its floodplain. Restoration goals and the specific objectives designed to achieve the goals are listed below.
Reduce the overly high instream temperatures and raise dissolved oxygen levels during summer months
- Reduce overly high width:depth ratios by restoring stable channel geometry
- Increase local fast-moving water zones
- Increase turbulent water zones
- Increase overhead cover for shading and cooling along the river banks
- Increase overhead cover for shading, cooling, flow diversity and roughening
Reduce fine sediment accumulation zones which are conducive to whirling disease vectors
- Improve hydraulics to mobilize fine sediments during low flows
- Stabilize eroded banks, which contribute to fine sediment deposition
- Encourage stormwater management controls in the upstream watershed to reduce sediment delivery from construction activities
Improve channel function and aquatic habitat
- Improve channel sinuosity
- Increase flow diversity
- Restore stable channel geometry
- Increase overhead cover for shading, cooling and detritus supply
- Increase instream cover for shading, cooling and protective cover
- Utilize woody materials for shading, cooling, protective cove and invertebrate substrate
Improve riparian and terrestrial habitat
- Increase diversity by increasing presence of native trees and shrub species on the herbaceous-dominated floodplain
- Stabilize eroded banks
- Enhance existing wetlands
- Install osprey platforms and bird boxes at wetland edges
Improve current land use practices to reduce impacts to the river corridor
- Mitigate grazing impacts
- Provide formalized trails too reduce damaging social trails
- Encourage storm water management controls in the upstream watershed to reduce sediment delivery from construction activities
Provide managed educational and recreational opportunities along the river corridor
- Provide boat ramp near treatment plant for controlled access
- Provide park facilities with boat ramp for controlled usage
- Create integrated trail system that is protective of sensitive river corridor
- Connect high quality fisheries upstream and downstream of project reach
Former ERWC Executive Director Melissa Macdonald and Brian Deem disuss the Edwards Eagle River Restoration project.
Thank you to our supporters and project partners
- Eagle River Water & Sanitation District
- Colorado Department of Transportation
- Colorado Water Conservation Board
- Eagle County
- Edwards Metropolitan District
- Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited
- Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
- B&B Excavating, an Oldcastle company
- 22 Landowners abutting the project