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November 20, 2012
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WATER LINES: Restoration project planned for Upper Eagle River

The Eagle River Watershed Council has recently begun work on a two-year long watershed restoration project with the Colorado State University Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering. This is one of the projects supported by the Colorado Basin Roundtable to meet environmental and recreational water needs in the basin.The Colorado River Restoration & Conservation Project is focused on identifying and implementing restoration and conservation projects on the Upper Colorado River reach in Eagle County. Identified projects will be ranked by ecological priority combined with community support.The "blueprint" for the Colorado River project was the 2005 Eagle River Inventory & Analysis, also by CSU, which resulted in implementation of many habitat restoration, rehabilitation and conservation projects to the benefit of the ecological health of the Eagle River Watershed. Literally, millions of dollars of investment have since been leveraged as a result of that work. Perhaps its most significant identified project - the restoration of the channelized Upper Eagle River through Camp Hale - has also just begun and already includes nearly 100 identified project stakeholders.Field work for the Colorado River Restoration & Conservation Project began this fall to inventory and assess the state of the river, its tributaries, and surrounding riparian area. Data so far collected includes water quality and temperature, macroinvertebrates, and riparian plant survey. The Eagle River Watershed Council has held several stakeholder meetings and is finding that interest in the potential restoration projects continues to expand, especially in light of the many challenges the Upper Colorado River faces as it continues to serve often competing demands.The project has received broad support including from the Colorado River Basin Roundtable, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Eagle County and its Open Space Program, and Colorado State University. The total project cost is $188,577. With the recommendation of the Colorado River Basin Roundtable, $90,000 of the funding is coming from the Colorado Water Conservation Board through the state's Water Supply Reserve Account.While it is still too early for any preliminary results and recommendations of candidate restoration projects, data collection and analysis is well underway under the supervision of Dr. Brian Bledsoe.The Eagle River Watershed Council, whose mission is to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River watersheds, is confident that the Colorado River Restoration & Conservation Project will help with future management decisions and implementation of restoration projects to help sustain and improve the Colorado River and its riparian corridor. ERWC and other partners are looking forward to working on the first phase of restoration projects by fall 2013.For more information or the latest status on the project, visit www.erwc.org or call me at 970-328-4364.This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning & let the roundtables know what you think, go to www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. Tambi Katieb is director of policy and planning for the Eagle River Watershed Council.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 20, 2012 02:43PM Published Nov 20, 2012 02:42PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.