Vail looking at ways to improve Gore Creek health |

Vail looking at ways to improve Gore Creek health

Ordinance will likely mandate buffer zones on stream banks

This photo from property along Booth Creek in Vail is an example of maintaining a buffer between landscaped areas and streams.
Special to the Daily

Living alongside Gore Creek in Vail is likely to come with more rules, perhaps as soon as this year.

The Vail Town Council at its March 2 meeting asked town staff to start drafting an stream protection ordinance. That ordinance, seen as a way to speed Gore Creek’s removal from a state list of “impaired” waterways, is likely to mandate stream setbacks for property owners.

Vail Watershed Education Coordinator Pete Wadden reviewed several ideas with council members.

Wadden stressed that the ordinance wouldn’t eliminate stream access for property owners, but would limit property owners to relatively narrow trails down to the stream bank. The ordinance would also keep turf grass and hard surfaces away from the stream bank.

Wadden’s presentation also proposed establishing new setbacks for private property. Rather than measuring setbacks from the center of the stream or stream bank, the new standard would stretch 10 to 20 feet from “Ordinary High Water Mark.” That mark is measured as an average high water mark over two years. Wadden said that mark can be adjusted from time to time.

Adjusting setbacks and other measures could create as many as 13 acres of new riparian habitat along Gore Creek and its tributaries.

Once the ordinance is drafted, Wadden said the proposal will go “at least once” to the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. There will also be meetings with stakeholders.

Four facts

The town of Vail owns about 40% of Gore Creek streamfront in town.

An ordinance would set a mandated stream setback on private property.

An ordinance could adopt local pesticide regulations.

Private property owners could receive technical and financial support.

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