Eagle: Building a better Brush Creek
EAGLE, Colorado – It sounds counter-intuitive, but Brush Creek is a healthier waterway today thanks to all the houses that have been sold in Eagle Ranch.
As part of the Eagle Ranch development agreement, .2 percent of the 1 percent real estate transfer fee that is assessed on all transactions in the subdivision goes to a wildlife mitigation fund. That fund then pays for improvements to streams and wildlife habitat.
This summer, Brush Creek was the focus of attention. Eagle Open Space Coordinator Bill Heicher said the work included stream bank stabilization to prevent erosion.
“The stream enhancement work, when it is done, you can’t tell that people have been in there with heavy equipment,” said Heicher.
The idea is to create a better mix of pools and riffles, which in turn makes a better environment for fish. Riffles are more shallow areas where water ripples over rocks. Riffles are important to overall stream heath because they create oxygen in the water and keep water temperatures cool. Pools are deeper areas where fish congregate and where they winter.
Both conditions are vital and ideally they alternate along a stream course. By bringing in the heavy equipment, the project was able to achieve that condition.
“It improved the integrity of the stream. It makes Brush Creek function better,” said Heicher.
The Brush Creek stream enhancement was the latest project completed with funding from the Eagle Ranch Wildlife Mitigation Fund. The cost was approximately $150,000. It was the third phase of Brush Creek work that stretches from the Sylvan Lake Road bridge to the southeastern boundary of Eagle Ranch.
A total of approximately $400,000 has been spent on Brush Creek improvements. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has contributed approximately $61,000 to partner on projects completed by the town and several volunteers have stepped forward to provide labor.
“We have also spent over $500,000 on deer and elk habitat in open space during the last two years,” said Heicher.
The viability of the Eagle wildlife mitigation fund has generated interest from groups throughout the state who are interested in habitat protection and enhancement projects. Heicher said the strength of the program is that it provides funding in perpetuity for impacts that also continue in perpetuity.
“You can spend it down. If the economy is good, when Eagle Ranch is selling houses, the fund replenishes itself,” said Heicher.