Greetings Swan River Restoration Blog subscribers
and readers. My name is Jordan Mead and I am the new resource specialist with Summit
County Open Space and Trails who has taken over staffing of the Swan River Restoration
Project from Jason Lederer. I am so excited
to be a part of this important and ongoing restoration effort. 2020 was a uniquely
challenging year with COVID-19 restrictions and everything that accompanied the
global pandemic. None the less, work continues on the Swan River Restoration
Project. It has been a busy winter and spring so far and we wanted to provide
you with a few updates as we look forward to next stages of this project in
Annual Update to the Summit County Board of County Commissioners
One of the conditions of Summit County’s gravel milling permit (Conditional
requires annual project updates to the BOCC. The Summit County Open Space and
Trails Department (OST) will be providing its fifth annual update to the BOCC
at a work session scheduled for Tuesday, June 1st at 9:45 a.m. Due to ongoing 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. Open Space and Trails 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. Please do not hesitate to contact OST with any questions
or comments about this meeting.
Reach A Updates: In the fall of 2019, Summit County opened the
Reach A site to the public. We have been excited to see the new trail from Brown’s Gulch
to Rock Island Road being utilized by anglers, hikers, bikers, and skiers over
the past few seasons. I had an opportunity to get out to the site last week and
the trail is nearly dry and almost ready for summer uses. Please be mindful
that the site is still in a fragile condition, so please continue to tread
gently and stay on the trail when possible.
Reach A monitoring is ongoing.
A third year of post-construction
monitoring of several site parameters, including the new channel, soil, and
plant, and habitat development continues to yield positive results. Recent results indicate that the all
parameters are performing extremely well, with the new channel responding
appropriately to new flows, soils and plant materials becoming
well-established, and stream habitat (e.g., riffles, pools, stream bed
substrate) functioning as intended. Additionally, a fall 2020 fishery survey by
CPW aquatic biologist, Jon Ewert indicates a very healthy fishery continues to
evolve in the new Swan River channel! Mottled Sculpin were found in the stream again
this year in greater numbers than past years and the diversity of fish sizes
and species continues to increase.
Mottled Sculpin has been found in Reach A.
Reach B Progress: Milling operations
have been completed for Reach B and almost 57,000 tons of gravel were removed
from the site in 2020, generating over $140,000 in funds to aid in the restoration
of this stretch of the Swan. Gravel stockpiles of about 100,000 cubic yards are
still present onsite and are currently being removed by Schofield Excavating.
All gravel removal operations are to be completed by May 2022 and it is our
hope that these stockpiles will be removed by this fall. With the crushing
operations completed and final removal ongoing, much of the site is now prepped
for the next stage of the restoration process, channel construction and habitat
Gravel Stockpiles on the upstream end of Reach B in late winter. 03/18/21.
This winter and spring, we have worked with our
partners at Ecological Resource Consultants to update draft design plans for
Reach B, incorporating many of the lessons learned from Reach A, as well as
suggestions from our partners at Trout Unlimited and Colorado Parks and
Wildlife. Overall, the design includes 4700’ of new stream channel which will
cover 2.7 acres, 12 acres of riparian habitat, and 5 acres of upland habitat. The
floodplain on Reach B will be flatter and broader to allow for more seasonal
flooding and greater diversity in the riparian areas surrounding the channel. Planting
pockets will also be a key feature in the Reach B build and will result in
planted thickets where sedimentation will occur in the riparian area. The stream
will also have more variability in width and depth along the channel to mimic natural
morphology. In order to create more in-stream habitat, woody debris will be
used to stabilize several of the banks along Reach B. These stabilization
methods have been shown to support larger fish populations on other restored
sites in Colorado, as well.
We plan for the channel construction crews to be
on site in early July through October, completing channel construction,
grading, and initial seeding before winter. Planting of shrubs and trees is
slated to occur in 2022.
This will be a very active year
on the Reach B site and for the Swan River Restoration Project. Stay posted and
look for updates on the construction this summer!
Additional information about Swan River Restoration Project is
available at RestoreTheSwanRiver.com as well as 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 Jordan Mead, or call 970.668.4065.