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Eagle River Watershed Council

The Watershed Council strives to protect and enhance the excellent natural, scenic and economic values that our rivers provide to the citizens, visitors and wildlife of the Eagle River and Colorado River watersheds located in Eagle County. Your donation will assist us in working toward these goals!

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Restoration Projects

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Animals
Children (4-12 years)
General population

Description

Eagle River Watershed Council organizes river restoration projects, including landscape rehabilitation, erosion and sediment control, and invasive species removal, on waterways throughout Eagle County. These projects are identified through our water quality monitoring efforts, impairment listings or after receiving a request from a landowner. We partner with local businesses and individuals, non-profits and government agencies to protect river health in the entire watershed.

This past year, we have organized and implemented restoration projects along the Eagle River in Miller Ranch Open Space, along Turkey Creek on Shrine Pass, as well as along Gore Creek in East Vail. These projects included the removal of non-natives and noxious weeds, replanting of native vegetation in riparian corridors, and eliminating and re-directing social trails, and closed forest roads that were causing stream health concerns.

Our projects depend upon our volunteers, which include local youth and adults looking to give back to their community.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

The Watershed Council has a successful history in conducting small to large scale restoration efforts throughout the Eagle Valley. Project outcomes have included a reduction in non-native species, protected stream banks, and reduced sedimentation.

Watershed Wednesdays

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Children ages 5 to 21
Families
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

The Watershed Council organizes the Watershed Wednesday series, a free educational program for the local community about 6 times throughout the year. Watershed Wednesdays aim to bring awareness to local water issues and provide an opportunity for our local community to explore our streams.

Watershed Wednesdays are fun, diverse events ranging from presentations from experts in the field, to film screenings, tours of locally-significant sites, interesting book presentations, interactive evenings for all ages and more!

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

We see many familiar faces at each of our Watershed Wednesday events that make up a strong and loyal following, and often sell out our RSVP-required events!

Eagle Mine Superfund Site Remediation & Monitoring

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

The Eagle Mine Superfund Site is located at the old Eagle Gilman Mine south of Minturn along Highway 24
The 235-acre site includes...
o Eagle Mine workings,
o The town of Gilman,
o Eight former mine tailings piles,
o Rock Creek Canyon below Highway 24, and
o At least 14 waste rock piles

The Issue:
* Heavy metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic, and manganese contaminated the Eagle River
* The contamination killed fish and threatened the Minturn drinking water

The Project:
Eagle River Watershed Council continues to work in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Colorado Department of Public Health & the Environment (CDPHE) and Eagle River Water & Sanitation District (ERWSD) to monitor the river at and below the Eagle Mine. We monitor fish populations and water quality parameters.

To read more about what the EPA, CDPHE, & the Watershed Council did to clean up the site, please visit our Eagle Mine Superfund Site webpage: http://www.erwc.org/research/eagle-mine-superfund-site-monitoring/

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

As a result of cleanup efforts, we have seen significant reductions in the concentrations of problematic metals (such as copper, cadmium, and zinc). The return of brown trout to this previously-inhospitable reach is further evidence that conditions are improving.

Water Quality Action Planning (Urban Runoff Group)

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

Stormwater is perhaps the largest concern to water quality and stream health at this time. As snow melts and rain falls it does not soak into the ground as it once would have due to a large amount of impervious surfaces (roofs, roads, bike paths and parking lots). As it travels across these surfaces it gains speed and picks up pollutants left behind by people, pets and vehicles, such as fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, oil, antifreeze, etc. This polluted water runs straight into streams causing significant water quality impacts. It is exacerbated in areas where vegetation along streams (the riparian area) has been removed or reduced.

The Urban Runoff Group (URG) is coordinated by Eagle River Watershed Council and brings together stakeholders that recognize the importance of source-water protection for human health and the socio-economic vitality of the communities of Eagle County.

URG utilizes the Water Quality Action Plan (WQAP) process to recommend actions to improve water quality where it is impacted by stormwater (also known as urban runoff). Some of these actions include, but are not limited to: stormwater infrastructure, land-use management strategies and zoning/regulatory updates, riparian buffer restoration and protection, sediment control structures and drainage improvements, and educational programs. This process has been completed for Eagle Vail and WQAPs are underway for the towns of Avon and Eagle- URG utilizes the model created for the Town of Vail's Strategic Action Plan for these WQAPs.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Increased diversity within the fish and macroinvertebrate populations as a result of projects undertaken in our watershed.

Black Gore Creek Sediment Management

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General Public
Wildlife Enthusiasts
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

Black Gore Creek originates in the White River National Forest's Gore Range on the West Slope of Vail Pass and flows northwest to its confluence with Gore Creek, which is a major tributary of the Eagle River. This project focuses on Black Gore Creek along I-70 between the top of Vail Pass and the East Vail exit.

Traction sand applied during the winter months along I-70 clogs the stream, which...
* degrades habitat, especially spawning grounds for fish populations;
* threatens wetlands;
* and reduces water supply capacity to the Town of Vail.

Due in part to this sediment loading, Black Gore Creek has been designated on the Colorado's 303d list of impaired waterways for exceeding sediment standards.

To remedy this problem, the Watershed Council works with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee to create and maintain over 30 catchment basins intended to intercept the sediment before it reaches Black Gore Creek. The partnership removed 17,600 cubic yards of sediment (about 1,900 truck loads!); and transplanted willows along Gore Creek to mitigate flows into the waterway.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

In recent years, through the work of the Steering Committee, there has been a steady reduction in the percentage of fine sediment in Black Gore Creek.

Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment Program

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General Public
Wildlife Enthusiasts
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)

Description

Eagle River Watershed Council's Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment Program (WQMAP) streamlined the water quality data collection process and established a central repository for the data for the entire watershed. WQMAP coordinates data collection from 12 entities around the Eagle Valley. This information is then made available to the public in a digestible format on the Watershed Council website.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Emerging threats have been identified and acted on in a timely manner; individuals and entities wanting to understand water quality in our valley have access to a central location where they can find all of this information; stakeholders are confident that there are no gaps in data and also that they are not duplicating efforts.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.