Headwaters Summer 2005: River Restoration

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Little Snake River | Sand Creek | North Fork of the Gunnison River



! u o Y k n a Endowing Partner h T

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Charter Members

Bureau of Reclamation | Central Colorado Water Conservancy District | City of Aurora Utilities | Colorado Water Resources & Power Development Authority | Colorado River Water Conservation District | Coors Brewing Company | Denver Water | MWH | Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District | Southwestern Water Conservation District | Ute Water Conservancy District

Pioneer Members Board of Water Works of Pueblo | Colorado Farm Bureau | HDR Engineering, Inc | Intermountain Corporate Affairs | Rio Grande Water Conservation District | Triview Metropolitan District

Sustaining Members Applegate Group | Brown & Caldwell | Brownstein, Hyatt, & Farber, PC | City of Grand Junction Utilities | City of Thornton Water Resources | Duke Energy Field Services | Duncan, Ostrander & Dingess, PC | Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel, LLP | PAT/PAC Colorado Dairy Farmers | Robert T. Sakata | Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite | Stanek Constructors, Inc | Summit County Board of Commissioners | The Consolidated Mutual Water Company | Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District | Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District | W. D. Farr | White & Jankowski, LLP

Associate Members Arkansas River Outfitters Association | AWWA, Rocky Mountain Section | Ayres Associates | Boyle Engineering Corp | Clifton Gunderson LLP | Colorado Livestock Association | CRPA/CRMCA | Delta County Commissioners | Fort Collins Utilities | Geomatrix Consultants, Inc | Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr | Hydro Construction Co, Inc | Hydrosphere Resource Consultants | John C Halepaska and Associates, Inc | Krassa & Miller, LLC | Leonard Rice Engineers | Merrick & Company | Middle Park Water Conservancy District | Platte Canyon Water & Sanitation District | Porzak, Browning & Bushong | Richard O’Connell | Roxborough Park Metro District | Rutt Bridges | Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District | St Vrain & Left Hand Water Cons District | Suncor Energy (USA) | Y-W Electric Association, Inc

Watershed Members Ann Seymour | Anschutz Family Foundation | Bishop-Brogden Associates | Bruce Jackson | Chris Rowe | City of Westminster | Collins, Cockrel & Cole | Daniel Tyler | Delta Conservation District | Dick Lyons | Donald Schwindt | Duane Woodard, LLC | Gerry Saunders | Inverness Water & Sanitation District | Jeanne & Miles Davies | John Porter | Ken Lykens | Kenneth & Eva Guenzi | Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District | Meurer & Associates, Inc | Michael Bauer | Nancy O’Connor | Paul von Guerard | Peggy & Philip Ford | Pete Crabb | Premier Farm Credit | Reagan Waskom | Rundall Family Trust | Sand Creek Regional Greenway | Scott Hummer & Sally Roscoe | States West Water | Town of Frisco | Walters & Associates | Water Information Program | WestWater Engineering

Individual Members 4 Corners Management | Adam Parkes | Alpine Cascade Corporation | Anderson & Chapin, PC | Angie Graber | Ann McCoy Harold | Aqua Engineering, Inc | Barbara Dallemand | Barbara Horn | Big Thompson Watershed Forum | Bill Cameron | Boulder County Parks & Open Space | Brad Udall | Brian Smith | Broken Spoke Ranch | Bucher, Willis & Ratliff | Buck Buchanan | Buck Rulifson | Case Ranch | Charles Goldberg | Charles McKay | Charles Waneka | Chris Kraft | Chris Reichard | Ciliberto & Associates, LLC | City of Boulder Water Quality & Environmental Services | City of Durango | City of Fruita | Clay & Dodson, PC | Coalition for the Upper South Platte | Colorado Department of Local Affairs | Colorado Division of Wildlife | Colorado Grain & Feed Association | Colorado Land Investments | Colorado Water Officials Association | Colorado Water Trust | Colorado Water Workshop | Conejos Water Conservancy District | Curry Rosato | Dale Kortz | Dan Kendrick | Dan Smith | David & Linda Overlin | David A. Reinertsen | David Batts | David Bernhardt | David Hallford | David Hayes | David Nelson | David Wagers | Deborah Hathaway | Delbert Smith | Dick Unzelman | Dick Wolfe | Don Ament | Don Cummins | Douglas County | Douglas County Community Development | Dr. Lon Brouse | Eagle County Community Development | East Grand Water Quality Board | Elaine Davis | Elk Ridge Ranch | Enlarged Southside Irrigation Ditch | Erik Fallenius | ERO Resources Corporation | Fairfield & Woods, PC | Frank Anesi | Frank McNulty | Fred Wolf | Friends of the Animas River | Gary Weatherford | Gene & Cleo Beauprez | Gene Bradley | Gregory Cucarola | Gregory Hoskin | Harold Miskel | Harvest Farm (Denver Rescue Mission) | High Line Canal Preservation Association | Hon. Richard Decker | Jack Ferguson | James & Martha Webb | James Gossman | Janet Enge | Jason Wolfe | Jay & Dori Van Loan | Jean Anderson | Jehn Water Consultants, Inc | Jerry Kenny | Jody Williams | Joel Plath | John & Susan Maus | John Redifer | John Wiener | Jord Gertson | Julia Murphy | Julio Iturreria | Karen Wiley | Kathy Jeffrey | Katryn Leone | L.G. Everist, Inc | Lawrence J. MacDonnell | Lee Kunz | Lee Stierwalt | Les Shaver | Longmont Community Radio | Luther & Jolene Stromquist | Lynn Herkenhoff | Magro, LLC | Mark & Sara Hermundstad | Mark Campbell | Martin & Wood Water Consultants | Mary Marchun | Mary Miller | McCarty Land & Water Valuation | Melvin Rettig | Merrill, Anderson, King & Harris | Mesa County Board of Commissioners | Mike Davis | Minion Hydrologic | Moapa Valley Water District | Murray McCaig | Nancy Porter | National Park Service Black Canyon/Curecanti | Nel Caine | North Fork River Improvement Association | NWCCOG | Panattoni Development | Patricia Locke | Patrick, Miller & Kropf, PC | Paul Lee Turner | Penny Lewis | Pete Gunderson | Peter Conovitz | Phyllis Hoppe | Pikes Peak Association of Realtors | Protect Our Wells | Randy See | Rich Coolidge | Richard Lichtenheld | Richard Tremaine | Rick Sackbauer | Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District | Rio de la Vista | Rita Crumpton | Roaring Fork Conservancy | Rob Fillion | Robert Bruce | Robert Johannes | Robert Marx | Rocky Mountain Guides Association | Ron Eller | Ronald Rehfeld | Round Mountain Water & Sanitation District | San Juan Water Conservancy District & Pagosa Area Water & Sanitation District | San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District | Sharon Clarke | Silverlined Productions | Skip Dinges | South Pueblo County Conservation District | South Reservation Ditch Company | Southeast Business Partnership | State Senator Ken Kester | State Senator Lewis H. Entz | Steven Acquafresca | Steven Janssen, Attorney | Steven Patrick | Stifel Nicolaus/Hanifen Imhoff | Sue Petersmann | Tanya Unger Holtz | Taylor Hawes | Terry Huffington | The Hudson Gardens | The Tisdel Law Firm, PC | Thomas Campion | Tomlinson & Associates | Town of Fraser | Town of Telluride Public Works Department | Town of Windsor | Treatment & Technology Inc | Trees, Water & People | Tri-County Water Conservancy District | Troy Bauder | TST Infrastructure, LLC | Turkey Creek Soil Conservation District | Vranesh & Raisch, LLP | W. W. Wheeler & Associates, Inc | Warner Ranch | Washington Group International, Inc | Weld County Underground Water Users Association | Wendy Hanophy | Wendy Wempe | Werner Living Trust | William & Donna Patterson | Wyoming Water Association | Zach Margolis

Student Members Ashley Prior | Clint Waldron | Darren Beck | Julie Kreps | Justin Bieri | Lynn Johnson | Nicole Beeskow | Sarah Catherine Hester | Thomas Barry

Colorado Foundation for Water Education 1580 Logan St., Suite 410 • Denver, CO 80203 303-377-4433 • www.cfwe.org M ISSION S TATEMENT

The mission of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is to promote better understanding of water resources through education and information. The Foundation does not take an advocacy position on any water issue.

Headwaters is a quarterly magazine designed to provide Colorado citizens with balanced and accurate information on a variety of subjects related to water resources. Copyright 2005 by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. ISSN: 1546-0584 A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Colorado Foundation for Water Education thanks all the people and organizations that provided review, comment and assistance in the development of this issue.

STAFF Karla A. Brown Executive Director Jeannine Tompkins Administrative Assistant

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR .....................................................2


IN THE NEWS ......................................................................3

President Diane Hoppe State Representative

2005 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE ....................................................4

1st Vice President Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr. Colorado Supreme Court 2nd Vice President Becky Brooks Colorado Water Congress Secretary Wendy Hanophy Colorado Division of Wildlife Assistant Secretary Lynn Herkenhoff Southwestern Water Conservation District Treasurer Tom Long Summit County Commissioner


A Community River, p. 13

FINANCING A RIVER MAKEOVER ..........................................16 CELEBRATING COLORADO’S YOUNG POETS...............................17 2005 CFWE RIVER TOUR .................................................19 ORDER FORM ....................................................................21

Assistant Treasurer Matt Cook Coors Brewing At Large Taylor Hawes

Comprehensive Colorado River Curriculum, p. 3

Colorado River Water Conservation District Rod Kuharich Colorado Water Conservation Board Lori Ozzello Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District Trustees Steve Acquafresca, Mesa Land Trust Rita Crumpton, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District Kathleen Curry, State Representative Jim Isgar, State Senator Ken Lykens, Denver Water Frank McNulty, Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources Tom Pointon, Agriculture John Porter, Colorado Water Congress John Redifer, Colorado Water Conservation Board Chris Rowe, Colorado Watershed Network Rick Sackbauer, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District

2005 CFWE River Tour Highlights, p. 19 ERRATA: The Colorado Foundation for Water Education apologizes for erroneously reporting the name of the recreational in-channel diversion applicant in our Spring 2005 Headwaters article “Water Rights for Recreation.” The applicant is the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, not the City of Gunnison as originally reported.

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About the Cover: The clear cold waters of Battle Creek rush toward the Little Snake River in this photo taken in early June. (Insets top to bottom): Pat O’Toole, Ladder Ranch; Kate Kramer and Constance Walker, Sand Creek Regional Greenway and Suncor Energy; Teresa Steely, North Fork River Improvement Association. .


Wa†ermarks Reviving a River A new study recently published in the journal Science estimates that taxpayers and foundations have spent more than $1 billion annually on river restoration in the United States since 1990. These figures were compiled by the National River Restoration Science Synthesis (NRRSS) Project which for the last several years has systematically catalogued all the river restoration projects in the U.S. Unsure of the scope of what they would find, researchers have now created a detailed list of 37,099 river restoration projects around the nation. Most restoration efforts are small and involve less than a mile of stream. Others are massive and much more expensive, often costing as much as $1 million per river mile. The study also highlighted concerns regarding how we measure the success or failure of these projects. They underlined the need for people in the river restoration business to talk to each other, learn from each other’s mistakes, and help avoid costly missteps and failures. An additional pitfall they identified was the lack of follow-up monitoring for individual projects, allowing for little or no evaluation of whether a restoration project is actually making a better river. To that end, lead scientist Dr. Emily Bernhardt is encouraging government agencies and foundations who fund these projects to dedicate additional monies for monitoring and review. Unless long-term monitoring can document issues such as flood stability, new plant growth or erosion control, there is little way to tell whether these costly projects are actually improving the functionality of the stream over the long-term. Humans have a difficult time treading lightly on the landscape, and now, after 100 years of diversion and manipulation, it is not surprising that some rivers are in desperate need of a helping hand. The NRRSS project found that river restoration around the nation boomed in the 1990s. Colorado has clearly been part of that. As we diversify our economy and worry about sustainability, renewable rivers are ones that can meet the additional stresses of the future and survive. In the coming decades, as we figure out how to store more water, conserve and become more efficient, a well-maintained river seems as good a business practice as a tidy shop or well-manicured yard. If you want to keep it working for you, you have to maintain it.

Editor and Executive Director



CFWE Executive Director Karla Brown gets an opportunity to talk with Terry Reidy, owner of Focus Ranch, on his front porch looking out on the Little Snake River. Brown was Reidy’s employee years ago. “He taught me there are usually two ways to do a job,” she says. “The easy way. And the right way.”

Cheesman Dam Celebrates 100 Years DENVER—The oldest dam in the Denver Water system, Cheesman Dam, marked the beginning of Denver’s growth into a Rocky Mountain urban center. When completed in 1905, the dam’s 80,000 acre-feet of storage meant that a small town at the edge of the mountains could support nearly 100,000 people. In a sense, modern Denver was born. Its design was state of the art for the period, and for a short time after completion it was the highest dam in the world. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the dam a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1973. Cheesman is a gravity dam, wedged in the South Platte River channel like a hightop shoe with its heel lodged upstream and its toe clamped into the downstream granite. Its strength and durability are

enhanced by the curvature of the dam’s upstream face like the arches that support a bridge. The weight of the water pushes the stones together rather than apart, creating a structure of enormous strength and durability. Today, although Cheesman represents only 20 percent of Denver Water’s storage capability, it remains key to the entire water system. More than 80 percent of the water moving through Denver’s system is impacted by conditions at Cheesman. Upstream reservoirs Antero and Eleven Mile are accessed

through Cheesman. Dillon Reservoir, the giant of the system which provides nearly 250,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to Denver, also must deliver water through Roberts Tunnel to the South Platte River, where it mingles with East Slope water in Cheesman Reservoir.

Citizen’s Guide to Where Your Water Comes From DENVER—For most people, the question, “Where does your water come from?” has a simple answer: “From the tap.” It seems hard to believe the water for your morning shower may have traveled more than 200 miles from a melting snowbank to a high mountain reservoir, through tunnels, treatment plants and pipes. Or it may have been pumped from 2,500 feet below the earth’s surface, tapping ancient water molecules that made their way into these aquifers during the Stone Age. This citizen’s guide helps explain how weather patterns and aquifers supply much of the water we use, as well as the intricate systems Coloradans have developed over the last 150 years to deliver this water to household taps, businesses, yards, parks and farm fields. Copies of the guide are $8 each or $6 each if ordering 10 or more. To order, visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.cfwe.org or contact the office at (303)377-4433.

Michael Lewis (2)

Comprehensive Colorado River Watershed Curriculum Now Available DURANGO—In May 2005, more than 70 Colorado River Basin educators and resource managers from the U.S., Mexico, Navajo Nation, and Tohono O’odham tribe gathered in Mexicali, Baja California to celebrate the publication of a new, international watershed-based curriculum: Discover a Watershed: The Colorado. The Discover a Watershed: The Colorado project is an educational program of Project WET International (Water Education for Teachers). It started in January 2003, when educators and resource managers from all nine Colorado Basin states (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Baja California, and Sonora) participated in a three-day intensive curriculum development workshop to lay the foundation for this Colorado River-based teaching guide. The curriculum supplies 25 interactive, multi-disciplinary lesson plans for teachers. It is directed towards 6th – 12th grade students and is available in Spanish and English. Topics include hydrology,

geology, geography, ecology, tribes, history, cultures, economics, management issues and resource stewardship. Activities are internationally relevant and classroom-tested. The curriculum is correlated to National Science Education Standards (U.S. and Mexican) and other disciplines in easy-to-use cross-reference charts. An in-depth glossary, index, and 10 pages of detailed watershed maps make this guide a valuable resource in and out of the classroom. “River Voices” written by people in all parts of the basin are sprinkled throughout the guide and offer personal perspectives on this remarkable watershed. Curriculum training workshops for Discover a Watershed: The Colorado will be held throughout the Colorado River Watershed. Some 30 workshops are planned in Baja California and Sonora in 2005, with additional workshops in the U.S. Visit www.projectwet. org and www.discoverawatershed.org for more information about the program, or to order an Educators’ Guide.




2005 Legislative Update

The 2005 session of the Colorado General Assembly produced 10 water bills that became law, 12 that did not pass, and 1 vetoed by the Governor. Highlights of the new laws include creation of water roundtables throughout the state, and payment to Kansas of the full amount owed by Colorado in the Kansas v. Colorado Arkansas River Compact case. The newly enacted legislation includes: HOUSE BILL 05-1039: Agricultural water right owners may now lend their rights to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for instream flow purposes, without the necessity of a Governordeclared drought emergency. These loans are limited to 120 days per year and may not be exercised more than 3 years in a 10-year period. HOUSE BILL 05-1156: After January 1, 2006, clerks of water courts may post the monthly resumes of applications online on the water court’s Web site, instead of mailing them. A person can obtain a paper copy of the resume by paying the required fee. Referee rulings may be sent by regular or electronic mail, rather than certified or registered mail. HOUSE BILL 05-1177: Establishes the “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act” which: • Creates an Interbasin Compact Committee whose 27 members are chosen from the Abandonment is the express or implied relinquishment of all or part of a water right for non-use. A period of 10 years of non-use invokes a statutory rebuttable presumption of abandonment. Beneficial use is the basis, measure, and limit of a water right. Colorado law broadly defines beneficial use of water as a lawful appropriation that uses reasonably efficient practices to put that water to use without waste. Beneficial uses include domestic, municipal, agricultural, industrial, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, instream flow appropriations of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and recreational in-channel diversions by local governments.


state’s major river basins, with some appointments made by the Governor. Their task is to negotiate interbasin compacts regarding use of Colorado’s water resources. Committee membership shall include individuals with expertise in environmental, recreational, local governmental, industrial, and agricultural matters; • Requires the Committee to adopt an Interbasin Compact Charter to govern and guide negotiations between basin roundtables: • Provides for Governor appointment of the Director of Compact Negotiations; • Creates permanent basin roundtables in each of eight basins and the Denver metro area. Using the ongoing statewide water supply initiative data and other appropriate information, each roundtable will develop a basin-wide consumptive and non-consumptive water supply needs assessment, an analysis of available unappropriated water, and propose structural and nonstructural projects and methods for meeting the basin’s water supply needs; • Preserves Colorado’s prior appropriation system, water rights created under that system, and contract rights. HOUSE BILL 05-1254: Provides shortterm grants to promote water conservation programs among large utilities. Grant funds come from a transfer of $1.5 million from the Severance Tax Trust Fund, and will be available to large water providers as distributed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The grant program will expire July 1, 2008. SENATE BILL 05-011: Authorizes Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to administer water pollution control revolving funds for publicly owned treatment works and nonpoint source management projects that are on the project priority list adopted by the Colorado

Water Quality Control Commission. SENATE BILL 05-045: Empowers water districts, water and sanitation districts, and water conservancy districts that own reservoirs to provide park and recreation improvements and services, if not already provided by another group. If the districts adopt a resolution to provide the improvements and services, no other entity can provide them without consent of the districts. Allows districts to use revenues and charge fees for these purposes. SENATE BILL 05-84: Authorizes Colorado Water Conservation Board financing that includes: • $20.2 million in loans for the Central Colorado Water Conservancy Well Augmentation Subdistrict to purchase water rights and construct water storage to augment supplies from depleted wells; • $1.5 million for the South Platte Decision Support System; • $500,000 to continue the Statewide Water Supply Initiative; and • $50,000 to support the newlyformed Republican River Water Conservation District in undertaking projects and studies vital to compact compliance and sustenance of water resources within that Basin. SENATE BILL 05-133: Provides that the statutory presumption of abandonment of a water right after 10 years of non-use, does not include periods where the water right was used in a federal land conservation program or an approved water conservation, land fallowing, or water banking program. SENATE BILL 05-161: Eliminates the requirement that private drillers and pump installers pass a state exam in order to drill a well on their own property for their own use. SENATE BILL 05-226: Provides for payment in full of $34.8 million to the State of Kansas as required by United States Supreme Court in the Kansas v. Colorado Arkansas River Compact case. ❑


Colorado Division of Wildlife

A Cutthroat Business

Restoring the Little Snake River By Paul Formisano / Photos by Michael Lewis

The individual nature of river restoration projects is nowhere more evident than in the Little Snake River Valley of northwestern Colorado. Until the largest ranch in the valley decided to undertake one of the most elaborate and extensive river restoration projects in the nation, comprehensive restoration of the Little Snake—hard hit by floods in the mid-1980s—did not seem a realistic possibility. Then in 1999, flexing its financial muscle, Three Forks Ranch initiated a chain reaction of restoration efforts that has resonated down the entire valley. Now some six years after the first plans were drawn up, the progress of restoration has both exceeded some expectations and disappointed others.



Three Forks Ranch North of Steamboat Springs, the North, Middle, South and Roaring forks converge to form the Little Snake River, site of one the largest privately-funded river restoration projects in U.S. history. In 1999, David Pratt beat out land developers to buy the property consolidated under the Three Forks Ranch name. Almost immediately, Pratt and his manager Jay Linderman turned their attentions to a watershed in need of serious rehabilitation. More than a century of irrigation diversion and sheep and cattle grazing had changed the structure of the Little Snake and its tributaries, creating extensive bank erosion and an ever-wider, shallower and warmer river. Once a vibrant fishery rich with Colorado River cutthroat trout, river conditions were stressing Colorado’s only native trout species which is also listed by the state as a “species of concern.” According to Linderman, Three Forks’ goals were far-reaching. Not only were they looking to create the premiere flyfishing destination in the United States, but with an eye on the struggling cutthroat trout population, they were committed “to becoming a leader in conservation efforts that would keep this river alive,” he explained. Pratt and Linderman enlisted the ser-


Jay Linderman, manager of Three Forks Ranch, checks on one of the more than 2,000 river and pond structures he helped install to improve cutthroat trout habitat and restore river function. The ranch spent over $100 million in what may be the largest river restoration project in U.S. history.

vices of David Rosgen, a hydrologist some consider to be one of the foremost experts on river restoration, to design and implement the necessary river structures. They also donated $35,000 to fund the design of a Little Snake River Master Plan, outlining a full restoration strategy for an additional 22 miles of river downstream. Rehabilitation on the scale of Three Forks can take years to implement, but

Rosgen and his crew completed the project in only seven months. Using a combination of cross-vanes, W and V weirs and J hook-vanes, they placed an amazing 22,000 rocks to create 2,000 structures along 16 miles of the Little Snake River and its four headwater streams. Yet despite their remarkable progress, the project was not without its skeptics. As heavy machinery churned up the


river from May to November, neighboring ranchers, representatives from various federal land agencies and interested onlookers visited the construction site to see whether such elaborate plans would live up to expectations. Six years has now passed since Rosgen’s group “remade” stretches of the Little Snake and its tributaries. The South Fork, a stream that once resembled what some called a “dirty irrigation ditch,” now supplies noticeably clearer water to merge with the Little Snake. Where cattle once mucked along the creek and depleted its banks of willows, the ranch now applies an intensive rotational grazing plan, leaving cattle along the stream only for short periods before they are moved to higher pastures. In addition to vanes, weirs and hooks to slow and deepen the channel, the ranch has also constructed 30 oxbow lakes in the old river channel, creating prime trout habitat. Transferring water rights from agricultural irrigation to fish habitat (piscatorial rights), river oxbows now act as trout hatcheries. In these placid lakes where monster trout flourish, to the swifter waters of the river and its tributaries, Three Forks offers anglers a once-in-a-life-time fishing experience. It was a $100 million investment to get the river to this point. But the

ranch is seeing positive returns. According to Linderman, revenues from fly-fishing guests have now outstripped revenues from both their cattle and big-game hunting operations combined.

Sandhill cranes strut through a ranch meadow irrigated with Little Snake River water.

The Rest of the River

Even with a restoration master plan in hand, for the 22 ranches operating along the Little Snake, establishing consensus on how best to manage and restore the river downstream of Three Forks has been a long-term proposition. “I was positive for six years,” says Terry Reidy, owner and operator of Focus Ranch, who with his wife Maureen first organized their neighbors to restore the river some seven years


ago. “Now, who knows.” Believing that federal water quality regulations and endangered species concerns might one day force him and his neighbors to drastically alter their ranching practices, Reidy felt it was time to improve the health of the river and help restore the fishery. It’s an important part of his business, he explains. “Fishing is a part of every guy’s operation.” It’s a $5 million proposition to restore 22 miles of river with improved irrigation diversions and in-channel structures, they estimate. But after years of applying for grants through private foundations and government agencies, no funds have come through. Some of the problem involves the source of the funding. It is difficult to find a funding agency that can handle this size of a project, as well as coordinate with 22 different landowners and their individual concerns. Federal grants generally come with regulations or requirements to fence-out riparian areas or allow public access for example—restrictions that may be palatable to some, but not all. A piece-meal answer might be more feasible, Reidy muses, potentially working on just a few structures at a time. Perhaps they can find enough money to rent a D-6 CAT, hire an operator and pay for rock—one of the most expensive parts of


Pat and Sharon O’Toole own and operate the Ladder Ranch, a sheep and cattle ranch on the Wyoming border. Restoration of Battle Creek, which flows through their property, is an ongoing process. “It’s been pretty satisfying to do the restoration work,” says Sharon. “You really get to see the results.”

the project. Perhaps some volunteers can be recruited to help plant willows. But at the end of the day, it’s been six years with no solution in sight. Waiting on results from their latest grant submission, the question of how to find blanket funding for 22 individual landowners on 22 unique miles of river, remains unanswered.

Restoring a Tributary

With Battle Mountain as its backdrop, the Ladder Ranch is a family owned and operated reminder of the long tradition of ranching in the Little Snake River Valley. Founder A.W. Salisbury homesteaded near the confluence of the Little Snake River and Battle Creek in 1881. Five generations later, George Salisbury and his son-in-law Pat O’Toole, continue to manage the family business. Primarily a sheep and cattle operation, their ranch combines thousands of acres of deeded and leased land throughout south-central Wyoming. Battle Creek, a tributary to the Little Snake, runs through the main ranch property. In the past, every spring the Salisburys undertook the common practice of constructing temporary “push-up” type diversions in Battle Creek to support irrigation ditches flowing to adjacent hay and alfalfa fields. Every year, after the creek’s runoff barreled down the valley, the family would bring heavy machinery into the creek to build up the failed diversion structures. Bank erosion and increased sediment loads were the unavoidable consequence, gradually making the river shallower and warmer over time. The dynamic nature of Battle Creek with its steep gradient further exacerbated the creek’s shift from a narrow, deep channel to one characterized by highly incised banks, little sinuosity, and a 8

slowly widening river bed. Bank erosion and loss of willows to shade and cool the creek were degrading the vibrant fishery that could exist in the creek’s high quality waters. Irrigation diversion structures posed barriers to the movement of brook, brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Responding to these conditions, George, Pat and his wife Sharon approached a number of local government agencies. Larry Hicks, resource coordinator with the Little Snake River Conservation District, and Mark Hogan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted the Salisburys in developing a plan to best meet the needs of Battle Creek and the ranch. Using in-kind matching grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Fish Passage programs, the Little Snake River Conservation District, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program, Battle Creek was ready for a renovation. “It was a combination of things that came together so that we could do this,” says Sharon O’Toole. “We had some really knowledgeable, committed guys working to help us navigate these programs. I also think the government agencies liked the fact they only had to work with one landowner. It makes things a lot easier.” For three weeks in November 2000, heavy machinery rumbled up and down Battle Creek placing enough boulders to create 19 different restoration structures. “These guys really tried to do it right,” Pat relates. “One time, the Forest Service put in some structures further upstream, but those eventually blew out completely. These guys knew what they

were doing, took their time and placed each rock.” And the benefits to the creek from all their hard work are noticeable. The mile and a half of restored creek has since narrowed and deepened, resulting in less erosion, a thriving fish population, and irrigation structures that require less yearly maintenance and disturbance in the river. To support the creek and riparian zone, the Salisburys continue to practice a rotational grazing regime that moves the cattle through a number of different fenced pastures along the creek over short amounts of time each spring. “We’re not trying to prevent cattle from getting to the river,” says Hogan. “But we do need to see what the land will allow. [Fences] buy time for Mother Nature to respond.” Because of the success of their initial efforts, the Salisburys hope to continue restoration work on other stretches of Battle Creek. Having recently received an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, another five structures will be sketched out this fall for construction in 2006. River restoration plans for the Little Snake River and its tributaries are ambitious and take on very different forms— from a privately funded mega-restoration, to a family-led initiative and a community coalition approach. But here in this small remote valley, each effort to improve the numerous values of the Little Snake River has a similar underlying theme. This river is one of our most valuable renewable resources. We know how to revive it. Why wait? ❑


Renaissance of an Urban River

Sand Creek

By Dan MacArthur Photos by Brian Gadbery

Egrets perform their elegant mating ballet while thousands of vehicles thunder by on the interstate overhead. Wary deer scatter before surprised cyclists cruising down a hard-packed trail. Odd chunks of concrete and twisted steel still poke between the grasses in some places— a reminder to visitors that this unlikely oasis from Denver’s urban din is healthier today than it has been in a long time.


Workers help plant willows along the banks of Sand Creek as part of Suncor’s efforts to remediate petroleum pollution from two Commerce City refineries they now own (background and inset). Nearby, the newlyinstalled Sand Creek Regional Greenway provides refuge for urbanites and wildlife alike.


Making Changes

Remediation of old petroleum pollution has cost Suncor Energy millions of dollars. At one point, the entire creek had to be temporarily moved to a new channel. Greg Fletcher, senior remediation advisor for Suncor Energy, Kate Kramer, executive director of the Sand Creek Regional Greenway, and Constance Walker, Suncor’s director of environment and regulatory affairs, oversee ongoing restoration plans.

“If you had asked anybody 15 years ago, they’d say it would never happen,” says Kate Kramer, executive director of the Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership Inc. Today, pockets of ecological integrity remain—a magnificent creekside gallery of native cottonwoods next to a truck stop, tremendous nightly gatherings of waterfowl at the confluence of the South Platte River, and winter eagle sightings in Aurora. But it was not long ago that Sand Creek was considered little more than a polluted ditch trickling intermittently through northeast Denver in a forbidding industrial landscape of oil refineries, landfills and highways. When it became apparent that Stapleton Airport would be abandoned, “Suddenly everybody realized that there


would be tremendous development,” Kramer recalls. In addition to redevelopment of the Stapleton area, serious environmental problems in the watershed could no longer be ignored. Oil and gasoline for years had been leaking into the creek from two adjoining Commerce City refineries. With Sand Creek flowing directly into the South Platte River, there were serious concerns about the potential for water supply contamination for thousands of downstream drinking and irrigation water users. Spurred by demands from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the refineries to clean up their pollution, the timing was right for Sand Creek to undergo a major renaissance.

Fortunately for Sand Creek, in the early 1990s a few visionaries partnered with the cities of Aurora, Commerce City and Denver to initiate a watershed renovation. The concept was to construct a 13.5-mile Sand Creek Regional Greenway as the last link in a 50-mile trail loop in Denver’s northeast quadrant, connecting the High Line Canal and the Platte River Greenway. But beyond making that trail connection, those practical dreamers also saw an opportunity to start restoring the creek to its former glory. “Parts of Sand Creek were such an eyesore. It was worse than an eyesore,” Kramer says, recalling river banks choked with trash and rusting culverts. The restoration project was first suggested in 1991 as part of the Emerald Strands Plan—a planning effort conducted by the three cities and Adams and Arapahoe counties. Soon after, a concept plan developed by the Stapleton Foundation in 1993 helped garner financial support from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) conservation trust fund and the EPA, and allowed detailed project planning to start the following year. Momentum to restore the watershed received a boost in 1997 when GOCO designated the greenway as a Legacy Project eligible for more substantial funding. GOCO initially provided $1.5 million to acquire land and construct trails, and has since provided another $2.75 million. By 2002, a patchwork of trails linking the High Line Canal with the South Platte River was open to the public. Guiding the greenway construction and restora-


tion efforts is a 30-member task force comprised of elected officials from the three partner cities, along with neighborhood associations, environmental organizations, non-profit groups and others, all under the auspices of the non-profit Sand Creek Regional Partnership Inc. “This is one of my two or three favorite projects in the state that we were involved in,” says former GOCO Director John Hereford, currently a private consultant. “I think river restoration is the greatest thing GOCO can do.” Hereford, who is now a member of the Sand Creek board of directors, says this greenway is so impressive because it was accomplished with cooperation among many jurisdictions. It also works on so many different levels—reclaiming a waterway, preserving open space, conserving wildlife habitat, and connecting communities with a transit corridor. Kramer estimates all the components contained in the master plan will be completed in about five years depending on the availability of funds. But she notes that a project such as this is never entirely “done.” For example, she said the partnership still hopes to acquire land to one day build a “signature park” at the confluence with the South Platte River. Of course, it all comes at a price. Construction of the entire Sand Creek Regional Greenway is currently estimated to cost some $21 million, according to Kramer. More than $12 million has been raised so far from a variety of sources. Donations have included materials and services valued at $2.5 million and easement donations valued at more than $750,000. At completion, it is estimated

that the costs will be split about equally among the three partner cities, other public funds, and private foundations, businesses and individuals. And that doesn’t include the extensive water quality clean-up efforts ongoing at two oil refineries which straddle the creek in Commerce City. Originally constructed in the 1930s, both refineries now are owned by the Canada-based Suncor Energy Inc. Suncor and the previous owners could have taken the cheap way out of cleaning up the refineries’ petroleum pollution by simply putting the creek into a concrete channel—at a cost less than half of the $2 million it eventually spent. But Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Constance Walker says that would have been contrary to Suncor’s commitment to becoming a sustainable energy company concerned with economic, environmental and social issues. “There’s a real business benefit to taking that balanced approach,” she said. So instead the creek was first moved 100 feet north, away from the polluted areas. Then a 2,000-foot underground slurry wall extending down to bedrock was installed to protect the creek from further pollution. In the end, Sand Creek was returned to its original channel which was reconstructed to replicate a natural creek bed.


“When we diverted the creek, we promised we’d put it back where we found it and make it better,” says Senior Remediation Adviser Greg Fletcher. That pledge included an ambitious ongoing revegetation program to help stabilize the creek banks with thousands of willows and native grasses. Kramer says Suncor deserves praise for its exceptional commitment to environmental clean-up and the greenway. “They spent a lot more money doing the right thing,” she says. “The investment they’re making in that area is tremendous.” Sand Creek has come a long way in a very short time. Its revitalization needs have been unique compared to many rural river restoration projects in Colorado. Although hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent creating new wetlands and riparian areas, river clean-up has also focused on mitigating industrial pollution and creating public access. Public awareness of the creek and enjoyment of its little treasures via the greenway trails will perhaps most powerfully ensure that this lively creek never again becomes an industrial dumping ground.


John Fielder

A Walk Along Sand Creek


Walking upstream from the confluence of Sand Creek and the South Platte River beneath the roar of Interstate 270, the creek maintains an unabashed industrial tone as it proceeds past the Metro Wastewater Reclamation facility in the shadow of the stacks of Xcel Energy’s massive Cherokee electrical generating station. “We don’t want to hide it,” says Kramer. “This is where you are.” The waterway then continues past two refineries in Commerce City—the same refineries that previously were the cause of petroleum leaks and serious water quality problems. Just a little way farther down the trail, the industrial atmosphere is broken at the Pepper Riparian Area—a five-acre cottonwood haven reclaimed from a former landfill. Passing under railroad bridges and highways, the trail runs below the traffic noise level for much of this area allowing trail users to forget the urban rush and bustle. The trail continues through a 20-acre wetland park reclaimed from another landfill before making its way toward the former Stapleton Airport. It is this segment that Kramer calls the real backbone of the greenway. “Sand Creek was ignored by the [Stapleton] airport operators, but with this new development, it is being recognized as a wonderful park,” says Kramer. Moving upstream through the three-mile Stapleton reach, the creekside landscape provides a distinct contrast of industrial and open space. Warehouses and former airport parking lots are interspersed with the 23-acre Urban Farm where city dwellers can learn about livestock and small-scale farming. Nearby, the creek flows underneath a massive old airport runway tunnel that “would be a great place to film a Mel Gibson action movie,” according to Kramer. Not far Even with highways and truck stops close by, the riparian corridor created by Sand Creek provides important habitat away, the new homes of Stapleton for urban wildlife such as these white tail deer. are transforming this once-inaccessible stretch of creek into a valuable recreational amenity. A major park is planned at the confluence of Sand and Westerly creeks. Farther east, the creek takes on a much more pastoral appearance as it passes by the Bluff Lake Nature Center, a 123-acre urban refuge for wildlife and native plants. Entering Aurora, the creek skirts the site of the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and intersects the 100-acre Sand Creek Park. The Stapleton and Aurora segments are increasingly being used by bicyclists commuting to work in these redeveloping employment centers, as well as people enjoying a walk, ride or run. The American Hiking Society recently recognized the Sand Creek Greenway as one of the nation’s top 10 fitness trails, and Better Homes and Gardens also praised the Greenway trail as an exceptional urban hike “boldly illustrating the dramatic contrasts of wildlife juxtaposed with an urban setting.” That’s an apt description, according to Kramer, who is still taken with the vitality of the wildlife she witnesses not far from the refineries that once fouled the creek. Grassy meadows, wetlands and groves of century-old cottonwoods offer a haven for coyotes, deer, beaver, foxes, muskrats, rabbits, snakes and frogs in addition to an abundance of hawks, owls and eagles. Beyond Fitzsimons, a concrete channelized section of creek transitions into a true urban wilderness at the Star K Ranch, a 200-acre natural area and outdoor learning center. “It’s an incredible natural preserve. This where you see the wildlife,” says Kramer. “You can’t believe you’re in an urban setting.” Here the High Line Canal owned and operated by Denver Water still carries water to Sand Creek, although the High Line’s use is slowly diminishing as the utility seeks ways of more efficiently serving the few remaining canal users. ❑

River restoration is more than just placing boulders in the river or putting a trail alongside the creek. It has to be. It originates with a community’s desire to manage rivers better. On the North Fork of the

A Community River The North Fork of the Gunnison By CFWE Staff / Photos by Michael Lewis

Gunnison, regional involvement is slowly remaking this hard-working Western river into a public amenity. The North Fork River Improvement Association was established in 1996 with the modest goal of researching alternative methods to reduce bank erosion along the river. But other issues soon came to light. Many sections of the river were only ankle-deep during the summer, and fish habitat was suffering. Other sections dried up completely. And although the river plays a vital role in the agricultural and mining economy of the area, almost no public access was available. These concerns and others prompted the North Fork River Improvement Association to get its start. “We were trying to meet the goals of the community: Streambank stabilization, habitat improvement, irrigation diversion,” says Jeff Crane, NFRIA’s original executive director. “Call it river restoration. Call it mucking in the river. Whatever you want. It’s what people asked for. We’re a community group.” Crane attributes NFRIA’s success to its broad-based coalition. A combination of riverfront landowners, farmers and ranchers, irrigation companies, gravel companies and environmental groups, they agreed to look at how to restore the vitality of the North Fork and help support the economy of the area. Delta County got their first bulldozer in 1946 from the War Department. In an effort to control erosion and assist agriculture, every year on a regular basis they fired up the bulldozer and used it to straighten the river. Their strategy was based on old Army Corps of Engineers



Executive Director Teresa Steeley thinks of NFRIA “as a consensus-making forum for diverse interests to talk about the river and river projects…This community is changing and the uses of the river are getting broader. People are floating the river—using it as an educational tool. It is definitely becoming a much more visible community resource.”

guidelines which calculated that to control erosion the best policy was to turn the curvy flood-prone river into a straight trapezoidal channel that could contain floods in one small area. To make that happen, each year they would take river gravel and push up big gravel dikes along the sides of the river. Then spring floods would wash out the gravel, and the river bank would cave in on itself, creating braided channels that carried the river off in different directions—and often into nearby fields and orchards. Then the next year they would repeat the same story. “Rivers want to meander. That’s what they didn’t understand,” says Crane. Meandering rivers are better than straight, he explains. A gently curving, meandering stream is going to move water more slowly, with less gradient and therefore less erosion. A single-thread meandering river also balances the movement of sediment throughout system, depositing sediment at same rate that it is eroded. A concrete channel like the Los Angeles Wash is one option, with concrete walls and no function other than to move water. Another option is a natural river channel with meanders, aquatic habitat 14

and manageable rates of change and channel movement—instead of out-of-control accelerated erosion. People have been trying to protect rivers banks from erosion since white settlers first arrived. Bulldozing was a technique picked up from the Army Corps of Engineers early on. But according to Crane, people are slowly learning from their mistakes, and finding out that a river needs to be a river. Safe overbank flooding is a major component of floodplain rehabilitation. You have to give flood waters a place to dissipate their energy and deposit seeds. It helps keep the general ecological cycle intact. Detailed studies of the morphology (evolution and configuration) of the North Fork and long-range planning efforts led to restoration of 1.5 river miles near the Town of Hotchkiss in 1999. The project put curving river meanders back into floodplain, planted willows and cottonwoods, and stabilized the outside river bends with in-channel rock structures. It also reconstructed several irrigation diversions to deliver a full decree of reliable low-maintenance irrigation water while providing for fish passage and safe recreational boating.

At first, some of the local ditch companies were skeptical. Their traditional method of bulldozing temporary diversion dams—while not pretty—was a timetested way to ensure their farmers got the irrigation water they needed. “I convinced them to let me do a project based on what their needs were, while improving the natural habitat of the stream. You have to identify the problem, and what their perception of the problem is. These are simple irrigation structures, we just had to raise the funds to install them,” explains Crane. And the structures have been successful. Even in the extreme drought year of 2002, irrigators were able to divert water. A combination of improved diversion structures and a consolidated river channel left more water in the river. Locals reported that in 2002 there was water in the river in places that used to dry up even in average years. Since that first 1.5 miles, NFRIA has widened its scope. Currently it conducts a water quality monitoring program and hosts a river awareness float annually. NFRIA also just recently assisted in the stocking of 7,500 brown and rainbow trout in the river, most notably in sections that used to be com-


Calvin Campbell (right) is one of the founding members of the North Fork River Improvement Association. Jeff Crane, NRFIA’s engineering consultant and former executive director, is currently heading up another major restoration project funded in part by the Army Corps of Engineers.

pletely dry during the summer. In 2006 the association is slated to tap $2.2 million in Army Corps of Engineers funding to continue doing exactly what it did for the river near Hotchkiss. The project has identified eight individual restoration sites along the river, including two bank stabilization projects, two rehabilitations of instream gravel mines, two irrigation diversion reconstructions, and two revegetation and channel stabilization projects. One of the gravel mine rehabilitation

projects will result in the first river park in valley. Delta Sand and Gravel donated 19 acres on both sides of the river that previously were part of an instream gravel mine. Army Corps money will restore the area and open it up for public access. “We started the process to get Army Corps funding in 1998,” says NFRIA Executive Director Teresa Steeley. “And currently we have money for our final engineering and construction plans. Senator (Wayne) Allard and his staff, as well as

Special permits called 404 permits are required to do significant work in any river in the United States. Applicants must apply to the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the necessary approvals.

former Congressman Scott McInnis were instrumental in getting funds appropriated for the first phases of construction.” And even if it does take years for funding to come together, there will always be community issues, and a need for adaptive management of the river. “A cottonwood tree landed on one of our structures this year, and wiped it out. Now we have to replace that,” Crane relates. “You can’t do anything about that, it’s part of river morphology.” ❑

The North Fork of the Gunnison River watershed drains approximately 986 square miles from the Gunnison National Forest and the West Elk Wilderness. It is located in northwestern Gunnison and eastern Delta counties in the semi-arid west central region of Colorado. The river flows through the towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss before converging with the mainstem of the Gunnison River north of the Gunnison Gorge and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Much of the rural ambiance of the North Fork Valley can be attributed to agricultural land, which comprises over 80 percent of all privately owned lands. Land use consists primarily of cattle and sheep ranches, fruit orchards and cropland. Extractive industries include underground coal mining, gravel mining and logging. The rich fish and wildlife resources in the watershed supplement the general economy with tourism and outdoor recreation. Sustainable agriculture and maintaining the existing rural quality of life are the top priorities for this typically under-served community.



Financing A River Makeover Restoring even short sections of river can require significant financial resources, not to mention the cooperation of local communities, federal land agencies, advocacy groups and corporations. In fact, a recent study published in the academic journal Science estimates that more than $1 billion is spent on river restoration projects in the United States each year. The following table lists a number of the river restoration funding sources available in Colorado and throughout the country. Funding Source Colorado Water Conservation Board: Colorado Watershed Protection Fund

$ Available

Organizations/Projects Funded


• Total funds available generally range from $90,000 to $100,000 • Awards typically divided among 8-9 projects/year

Coalition for the Upper South Platte Project

Implemented in 2003 through the Colorado State Income Tax Checkoff option.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Five Star Restoration Grants

• $500,000 total • $20,000 maximum award • $10,000 average award/project

San Miguel Riparian Restoration

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Nonpoint Source(319) Grants

• FY 2005 payout $207.3 million • Colorado received $1.7 million for 2005

Animas River Stakeholders

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Targeted Watershed Grants

• $10 million • 25% matching funds required

14 projects funded throughout U.S in 2004. Colorado projects include: • Clear Creek Watershed Association • North Fork River Improvement Association

Created in 2002. Encourages community-based management strategies to improve watersheds. Governor or tribal chairman must nominate project proposals. Grant awards range from $600,000 to $900,000.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO): Land, Water, and Wildlife Protection

• 71.5% of total GOCO funds available • $44 million in FY 1999

South Platte River Project

Founded in 1992 from Colorado Lottery proceeds.

General Service Foundation: Western Water Program

$15,000 maximum award

Willow Creek Reclamation Committee

Yampa River Restoration

Willow Creek Reclamation Committee

Began in 1998. Targets youth organizations, non-profits, government agencies, landowners, and corporations. Encourages community-based restoration efforts. Began funding in 1990. Targets specific geographic areas and requires collaboration between various agencies.

Sand Creek Regional Greenway Awarded to American Rivers for the Hydropower Reform Coalition’s Running Rivers program

Program targets protection and restoration of rivers in the inner mountain West. Funding questionable in future as program is in transition.

Rio Grande Restoration Natural Resources Conservation Service: Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

• Nearly $30 million awarded in 2004 • $450,000 per individual maximum award • 50-75% cost share

Riparian and trout habitat in Rio Grande drainages Multiple projects across the state

Voluntary program that targets specific natural resource concerns. River restoration is often funded through larger natural resource projects.

Natural Resources Conservation Service: Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

• Colorado received $575,000 in 2004 • 50-75% cost share

Trout habitat and stream bank stabilization in Rio Grande drainages Multiple projects across the state

Funds private landowners to develop habitat to keep organisms off of Endangered Species list.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Bring Back the Natives Grant Program

• $1.15 million for FY 2005 • $60,000 average award • 2:1 match required

San Miguel Riparian Restoration

River Network: River Network Partner Grants

• $3,000 maximum award • Funding when available • Usually in the form of in-kind awards for training, consulting and organizational management.

Training and consulting for local watershed groups throughout U.S.

Created in 2003. Aimed at grassroots river and watershed conservation groups.

Trout Unlimited: Embrace-AStream

• $10,000 maximum award • 1:1 match required

Platte River Rainbow Trout, South Fork Platte River protection.

Created in 1975, EAS has donated $8 million in cash and in-kind grants. Program supports TU chapters and councils but encourages government agencies, nonprofits and other groups to work with TU to secure funding.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program

• $35 million payout in 2005 • $25,000 typical highest grant

Battle Creek Restoration

Started in 1987. Private landowners must enter into 10 year agreement.


Cost share agreement usually requires 5-10 year commitment Restoring native aquatic species to historic range with cutthroat trout habitat as a main priority.


Michael Lewis

Kay’s Creek Restoration (UT)

2005 River of Words Award Winners A Sample of Winners Selected by Contest Judge Kathryn Winograd From My Boat From my boat, I like the night. I do not think the moon is the moon. I think the moon is a mantaray. The stars and fish swim in the black water.

Coyote The coyote’s footprints are like snow glowing in the sky with the silk moon. The coyote’s eyes are like the stars shining their bright, peach light.

John Davies-Schley Polaris Program at Ebert Elementary School, Grade 2 Denver, CO National Grand Prize Winner Teacher: Linda Keller

Noah Jones Polaris Program at Ebert Elementary, Grade 2 Denver, CO First Place Teacher: Linda Keller

Celebrating Colorado’s Young Poets The River of Words contest is an annual environmental poetry contest for children ages 5 through 19. The contest endeavors to promote literacy in the classroom, and to train teachers how to integrate the arts into core curriculum subjects. In 2004, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education with a grant from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities and several private donors, developed on online course called Teaching the Poetry of Rivers to support the contest. This interactive course platform provides K-12 teachers with resources and lesson plans integrating humanities instruction (critical thinking, comparative literature), science-based water resource activities, and advancement of literacy through creation of original poetry. Dr. Kathryn Winograd with Arapahoe Community College authored the curriculum. Since the course became available in Fall 2004, the annual number of River of Words contest entries has surged from around 200 to more than 600. If you would like to participate in this free online course, contact Karla Brown at (303)377-4433 or karlab@cfwe. org. Booklets showcasing all recipients of the 2005 Children’s Literary Awards can be obtained through its sponsors, the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities and the Colorado Center for the Book at (303)894-7951.



The Sky

Bayou Haiku

The animals running, the creeks with shining water, a couple with their new baby and my partner, the sun shining with me. I am the sky that never moves from his old place Translated by Raul Montañez College View Elementary School, Grade 3 Denver, CO National Finalist Teacher: Ann Stiles

Sea of Happiness Swaying green palm trees Dancing in the wind. Sweet seafoam coral blotched water Trickling down the smooth gray rocks. Sand, hot and damp, squishing through my toes Splashing waves, Closer, Closer, Splash They’ve returned from their journey at sea Cool Hawaiian breezes losing me in a sea Of color and happiness Small clumsy orange crabs Scampering along the soft sand Smooth green turtles swaying on the Passing waves.

Evening draped its veil On the water’s soft canvas (In the tangerine Evening) it’s almost Like a whole different realm (In the tangerine Evening) the bug’s chirp In their soft low tenor voice (In the tangerine Evening) in the bog The bugs are singing to us (In the tangerine Evening) they tell us As the trees cast their shadows (In the tangerine Evening) on the swamp See the dense green reflection (In the tangerine Evening) of the forest Wrapped its shroud over the swamp (In the tangerine Evening) everything Is so green, and so murky (In the tangerine Evening) the foliage Painted the water emerald (In the tangerine Evening) the sun Tinted the sky an orange In the tangerine Evening.

A Pebble A pebble sits at the bottom of a river. So small no one even knows it’s there. Hidden under another pebble. But slowly as the river dries the pebble moves closer to the surface. Now the river is gone and the pebble is at the top for every one to see. But still the pebble is not seen. As people walk by no one even notices the ditch that was once a beautiful river, or the pebble in its place. Emma Weinstein Gardner School, Grade 6 Gardner, CO Third Place Teacher: Liz Schneider

Ethan Robertson Grade 8 Littleton, CO First Place Independent Submission

Caitlin Gallagher Campus Middle School, Grade 6 Englewood, CO Second Place Teacher: Cathy Walker



2005 Yampa and White River Tour More than 45 tour attendees from all over the state toured the Yampa and White river valleys June 22-24. Participants heard from a variety of water resource managers on topics ranging from endangered species, oil and gas issues, recreation and irrigation management. They visited the Nature Conservancy’s globally rare riparian forest at Carpenter Ranch, and received a special tour of the tunnels underneath Stagecoach Reservoir. Evenings were filled with barbeques and great opportunities to socialize and network with other tour attendees. The final day included a float down the Yampa River or fly-fishing activities. Don’t miss out next year when the Foundation tours the headwaters of three major Colorado rivers—the Arkansas, Colorado and South Platte!

Michael Lewis (3)

2005 CFWE Tour Sponsor

(Clockwise from top) A float down the Yampa River near Hayden gave everyone an opportunity to see the river up close, including a bald eagle sighting. Tour attendees watch water flow over the spillway at Stagecoach Reservoir. The reservoir had started spilling only days before. Inside the dam at Stagecoach Reservoir, Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District Manager John Fetcher took the group on a special guided tour of the facilities. HEADWATERS – SUMMER 2005


2005 Yampa and White River Tour Sponsors The 2005 CFWE Yampa & White River Tour would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. We extend our gratitude to:

2005 CFWE Tour Sponsor Mary Brown, Intermountain Corporate Affairs Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District Town of Rangely Town of Meeker Rio Blanco County Commissioners White River Soil Conservation District Douglas Creek Soil Conservation District

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John Fielder

Ongoing restoration is allowing Sand Creek to once again function like a healthy river, with willows, cottonwood groves and backwater areas teeming with wildlife. To ďŹ nd out more about efforts to bring back the vitality of this urban river, see page 9.

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