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Update: Bear Creek Watershed Restoration

08/13/14 at 01:44 PM by Vince Puzick

 

The Bear Creek Watershed Restoration efforts continue.  The work in North Cheyenne Canyon brings together many different organizations throughout our region -- as well as the state -- to restore the trails, creeks, and wildllife in this unique ecosystem.  An update on those restoration efforts is presented below:

 

Donation of Jones Park

 

Colorado Springs Utilities will be presenting its recommendation to donate Jones Park to the National Forest Foundation at the August 20 Utilities Board meeting.  Additional discussion regarding the alternative of donating the property to El Paso County may occur at the meeting as well.  The meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

 

High Drive

 

The FEMA Public Assistance (flood damage repair) project continues to move forward by the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department. Currently, a request for proposal is being drafted in order to select a contractor to complete the flood damage repair. This project will repair the washed-out sections of roadway, repair the rutted sections, reestablish proper drainage on the roadway and prep the site for future mitigation work. Best management practices (BMPs) will be installed to impede and reduce sediment runoff during construction. The roadway repair work is anticipated to be completed this fall. The Parks Department is also working to select an engineer in the coming weeks to provide the design services for the FEMA funded Hazard Mitigation work. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation site work is anticipated to be completed next summer. Additionally, planning and coordination work has already begun on the sediment mitigation and stream restoration project, which will run concurrently to the FEMA projects.

 

NEPA process

 

The interdisciplinary team has spent the last couple months gathering information based on recommendations made during the most recent comment period:

  • A team from the San Dimas Technology and Development Center came out and gave ideas on how to reduce sedimentation and speed up the reclamation process of trails that may be closed and decommissioned. 
  • A member of Trails Unlimited came out and scouted a new motorized re-route for trail 667 (Captain Jacks) that will run higher on the south slope of Mt. Kineo and tie in to trail 622.A near the watershed boundary.  This could be used in place of the proposed reroute that connected with 622 (Seven Bridges). 
  • Natureshape scouted and laid out a new reroute of 667 that connects 622 A to 701 (Foresters).  This reroute is a sustainable route that runs closer to the current alignment of 720 (Foresters Cutoff).  Natureshape also scouted and laid out a route into Jones Park which would allow access to several cultural sites including Loud’s cabin. 

Under development is an interpretive plan that will highlight the unique resources in Jones Park, including both the cultural sites and greenback cutthroat trout.

 

Due to the extra information gathered, the need to inventory resources and potential impacts along the newly laid out reroutes, as well as competing priorities that have demanded staff time, a decision is anticipated in time for implementation to begin next field season.

 

Maintenance work

 

The Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) will be conducting maintenance on sediment detention structures in the Bear Creek watershed mid-September-October. Roundtable members (and all your friends!) are welcome to volunteer.

 

Greenback cutthroat trout stocking update

 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, with the assistance and support of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service, has completed stocking Colorado’s native greenback cutthroat trout in Zimmerman Lake in Northern Colorado.  This is the first re-introduction of the trout to their native range. The fish stocked are a result of spawning efforts at both the Poudre State Hatchery and the Leadville National Fish Hatchery in 2012.  There are approximately 3,200 fish reared from those efforts, 1,200 of which are now stocked at Zimmerman Lake.  These fish are just over one-year old and will average about 4".  Around 1,000 fish have also been moved to each of the two hatcheries for future brood stock.

 

Recent article about greenback cutthroat trout

 

Westword, a Denver-based magazine, published an article on the cutthroat genetic study and implications for greenback cutthroat recovery, but also covered the significance of Bear Creek and the efforts to balance resource protection and recreation through the NEPA process.  Some members of the Roundtable were interviewed for the article.  The blog can be found at: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/08/colorado_protect_greenback_cutthroat_trout.php

 

ESA status review

 

The first significant step in the US Fish & Wildlife Service's ESA evaluation process for Colorado cutthroats was a scientific review of the recent research. That 3-day review took place in August 2013, when genetic and taxonomic experts from across the US convened in Denver at the request of the Service.  The summary of that workshop has been compiled and distributed on the USFWS Greenback Cutthroat Trout Recovery Team webpage (http://www.fws.gov/coloradoes/Greenback/index.html). 

 

One very encouraging aspect of this review was that there the panelists generally agreed that the genetic and the meristic studies showed support for each other's conclusions.  Furthermore, both studies demonstrated that uniqueness of the Bear Creek lineage from other Colorado cutthroats.  Of more question was the significance of the "green" lineage.  It appears to be native to the Gunnison and Colorado River drainages (and the fish found in Severy Creek).  The USFWS has recently completed a "white paper" on this particular group of cutthroats as part of the ESA review.  It is anticipated that the entire review process may take up to two years.

 

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress made in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration. 

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