While many of us are hunkered down and doing our best to stay healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, work continues on the Swan River Restoration Project. We hope you are faring well during these uncertain and turbulent times. During this unprecedented situation, we are especially grateful for Summit County's amazing open spaces - those that have been protected as federal public lands, or through local acquisition, as well as those, such as the Swan River Valley, which are being restored from abandoned mine-scarred sites to places of natural beauty and ecological function. Despite the ongoing global emergency affecting each of us in different ways, it has been a busy “off season” and we wanted to provide you with a few updates as we look towards advancing work in 2020:
Annual Update to the Summit County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC): One of the conditions of Summit County’s gravel milling permit (Conditional Use Permit) requires annual project updates to the BOCC. The Summit County Open Space and Trails Department (OST) will be providing its fourth annual update to the BOCC at a worksession scheduled for Tuesday, May 26th at 10:00 a.m. Due to requirements associated with local COVID-19 public health orders and ongoing physical distancing efforts, this meeting will be conducted virtually. Please refer to the BOCC published agenda for meeting access information. OST staff will review accomplishments from 2019 and discuss plans for the 2020, including continued gravel removal from the valley. As always, your attendance at these meetings is welcomed.
Reach A Opening and Mining Permit Closeout: Last fall, Summit County opened the Reach A site to the public. With the native ground cover slowly becoming established, in October we were able to open the site for access. A new natural surface trail between the Browns Gulch trailhead and Rock Island Road provides access for biking, hiking, running, angling, skiing, snowshoeing, and other passive, non-motorized recreational uses. The site remains in a fragile condition, so please continue to tread gently and stay on the trail as much as possible.
With the restoration work complete and the site opened to the public, we officially removed Reach A from the County’s mine permit boundary. For the first time in over a century, this large swath of the Swan River Valley is no longer a mine site!
Reach A Monitoring
: Annual post-construction monitoring of several site parameters, including the new channel, soil and plant development, and habitat development continues to yield positive results. Recent monitoring surveys indicate that all parameters are performing extremely well, with the new channel responding appropriately to annual flows (including the historically high 2019 spring runoff cycle), soils and plant materials becoming well-established, and stream habitat (e.g., riffles, pools, stream bed substrate) functioning as intended. Additionally, a fall 2019 fishery survey
by CPW aquatic biologist, Jon Ewert indicates a very healthy fishery continues to evolve in the new Swan River channel!
Reach B Progress: The County’s gravel removal contractor, Schofield Excavation, continues to make excellent progress on Reach B grading. What began as monumental task is now beginning to yield the early signs of restoration. Gravel removal efforts and site grading this year will initiate shaping of the some of the final restoration features, including the channel and wetlands pockets, as well as floodplain and upland areas.
Keep in touch; it is shaping up to be another exciting year for the Swan River Restoration Project! Additional information about Swan River Restoration Project is available on the Open Space and Trails Special Projects web page. If you have additional questions about the restoration project, you can contact Summit County Open Space and Trails Director Brian Lorch, or Open Space and Trails Resource Specialist Jason Lederer, or call 970.668.4060.