Help restore Minturn’s riverfront |

Help restore Minturn’s riverfront

Geraldine Haldner

Partially hidden behind residential homes in the small town’s “downtown” area, the river in other places simply borders U.S. Highway 24 – the town’s Main Street inside town limits.

To those who don’t fish or otherwise use the shores in Minturn, the Eagle River only comes to mind when crossing one of the town’s two bridges leading to unimproved land outside of the town’s northwestern boundary.

Once polluted from the Eagle Mine in nearby Gilman, the Minturn stretch of the health of the Eagle River has rebounded in the last decade, following a series of mitigation projects.

How to better take advantage of Minturn’s “riverfront” location is the topic of a Thursday meeting open to the public. The meeting, which will include a presentation by a stream design consultant firm, is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Minturn Town Hall.

“What we are trying to do is to make the river more of a focal point for the residents of this town, as well as the visitors,” says Minturn Town Manager Alan Lanning, who has been involved in the master-planning process of the town’s river for the last three years.

Within that time the town has partnered with other water-user advocate groups, including the Eagle River Watershed Council, to explore possible funding options through federal and state grant program – money that has been set aside by the Environmental Protection Agency to mitigate the negative effects of the Eagle Mine pollution.

No firm numbers or funding plans has been established as of yet.

“That comes later in the process,” Lanning says.

The town also has signed mutual agreements with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and representatives of the Eagle Park Reservoir, in order to gain regional support for a project that could, in the words of Lanning, “fix up the river to make it more accessible and aesthetically pleasing.”

The Eagle River Stream Restoration and Planning Project, as it is being called in its preliminary stage, envisions narrower sections and natural pools to improve fish-spawning habitats, along with enlarged riparian areas alongside the stream.

Additionally, town officials hope to include improved access points to the river for fishermen and other water users. Lanning said the project, as conceived so far, does not include plans for a recreation path alongside the river.

Six weeks ago the town hired Denver-based Ecological Resource Consultants Inc. to study the river’s current state and possible points of improvement. The master-planning process for the river and the subsequent design for the restoration project is estimated to cost up to $75,000, Lanning said.

As charted out, the project would be limited to an approximately three-mile-long stretch of the river, roughly from the town’s municipal parking lot to the Minturn Park next to the Minturn Cemetery.

At A Glance:

– What – Eagle River Stream Restoration and Planning Workshop

– Where – Minturn Town Hall

– When – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

– Why – the public is invited to hear a presentation and make comments on a proposed project that would improve a stretch of the Eagle River in Minturn.

– Who – town officials and representatives of Denver-based Ecological Resource Consultants Inc. will be at hand to answer questions.

Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at

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