Vail Valley Spotlight: Eagle River Watershed Council | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Spotlight: Eagle River Watershed Council

Vail Valley, CO Colorado

Special to the DailyThe Eagle River Watershed Council is restoring a stretch of the river in Edwards that has been damaged by decades of development.

Organization name: Eagle River Watershed Council

Board President: Arlene S. Quenon

Executive Director: David K. Fulton

Assistant Executive Director: Melissa Macdonald

Location: 82 E. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon

Phone number: 970-827-5406

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Web address: http://www.eagleriverwatershedcouncil.org

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Years in business:The Eagle River Watershed Council was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation in July 2004. Many of our Board members were part of an “Eagle River Environmental Business Alliance” 20 years ago and formed the ERWC in response to the designation of the Eagle Mine site as a Superfund site. They hired technical consultants to monitor and translate data being provided by the cleanup officials.

Problems with the cleanup action plan became public when water pumped back into the mine workings reached fractures in the bedrock. This water became contaminated with metals and began to seep out, causing the Eagle River to turn orange, killing fish for miles downstream. As a result, the river water being used for snowmaking produced orange snow at the Beaver Creek Resort. Finally, in October 2001, construction of the remedy was declared complete.

When the Alliance was discontinued, the Watershed Council was formed in 2004 in part to oversee the continuing monitoring activities of the Eagle Mine site.

What is the organization’s mission and who benefits from its work?

The Eagle River Watershed Council’s mission is “preserving our quality of life by protecting the Eagle and Colorado Rivers in Eagle County.” The Eagle River Watershed Council advocates for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through education, research and projects. We provide a forum in which everyone can participate and gain a greater understanding of the Eagle River environment.

Not only is the Eagle River our most precious natural resources benefiting the abundant fish and wildlife in Eagle County, but all residents of Eagle County enjoy our rivers for their beauty and peace, recreational activities such as fishing, rafting and kayaking, snow making for skiing ” and most importantly, clear, clean water for residential and business use.

Where does your funding come from?

Everyone pitches in. Our funding comes from individuals, corporations, foundations, special districts and local and state governmental entities. Volunteers and in-kind donors help us keep our expenses down with their generous donations of time and other goods and services.

How many staff members work for you?

There’s never enough. We have two full time staff assisted by an active 12-member board of directors.

Anything else you’d like the community to know about the organization?

We’re busy. The watershed council is presently working on 17 programs and projects throughout Eagle County to preserve, protect, restore and improve the health of the Eagle River watershed.

These programs include monitoring the Eagle Mine Superfund site and the “cribbings” at Belden, monitoring Black Gore Creek’s traction sand cleanup project, and working on the Gore Creek water quality protection plan. We are currently restoring a 1.6-mile stretch of the Eagle River in Edwards ” a $4.3 million project. Phase one is underway with grants totaling nearly $2 million.

With our volunteers we completed a tamarisk removal program, and annually conduct the Eagle River fish count, Black Gore Creek beaver pond inventory and ongoing water temperature monitoring in the Colorado and Eagle rivers.

The watershed council organizes the popular Eagle River Clean Up and Community Pride Highway Clean Up, the largest highway cleanup in Colorado. More than 1,000 volunteers participate in the Highway Clean Up and more than 400 volunteers participate in the River Clean Up, removing all sorts of trash from the river and its banks.

The watershed council provides the volunteer management, event coordination, public awareness and a lively volunteer appreciation barbeque dinner, supported by Vail Resorts and several other sponsors.

Contact Community Editor Lauren Glendenning at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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