A hard look at the Eagle River | VailDaily.com

A hard look at the Eagle River

Alex Miller

EAGLE COUNTY ” Overall, the health of the Eagle River is good, but there’s a lot to be done to try to keep it that way.

That’s the finding of a special report on the river conducted by the Colorado State University Engineering Research Center, which spent several years examining key aspects of the waterway.

Working from previous studies as well as new information, the CSU team offered a series of seven recommendations for the river (see chart). The research team looked at all of the different areas that affect the river, from land and water use to metals, sediment, wetlands and hydrology as well as water quality, river flows and physical habitat.

“As a community, we really need to address what are our ecological priorities are for the Eagle River Watershed,” said Maria Pastore with the Eagle River Watershed Council, which commissioned the study. “CSU took a hard, scientific look at the valley and prioritized the ecological issues we should be focusing on.”

Caroline Bradford, also with the Watershed Council, said such a comprehensive study is necessary not only for the scientific knowledge but for the ability to get grant money and other funds to tackle projects. That includes the pot of money put up by the previous owners of the defunct Eagle Mine near Minturn, which has several million dollars that will be disbursed this year.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The report also noted what the team saw as significant threats to the river, including:

– Flow changes (more demands on the river’s water from those holding water rights);

– Nutrient and metals loading (from fertilizer, wastewater plants, mines, etc.)

– Land use changes;

– Impacts from increased recreation activity.

“This document is a great way to familiarize yourself more with our watershed and to learn about the impacts that are currently present in our watershed,” Pastore said.

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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