River restoration begins in Minturn | VailDaily.com

River restoration begins in Minturn

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado

MINTURN ” Restoration work is being done on a stretch of the Eagle River running through Minturn that was badly damaged by early development in town.

As homes and businesses were built near the water’s edge decades ago, the river was reshaped and deformed. High river banks were created that couldn’t hold plant roots, which caused erosion. Wildlife habitat was destroyed as the river widened.

“All this development from the highways, the railroad and the town had an effect,” said Dave Blauch, the project manager and a senior ecologist with Natural Resource Consultants.

The restoration area is roughly from the I-70 westbound bridge to the Bellum Bridge in Minturn, about 1.6 miles. The big idea is to make it more natural looking, a place where wildlife and plants could actually thrive they way they are supposed to.

Right now, the river pretty wide and shallow, which isn’t a good thing, Blauch said.

Restoration will involve strategically placing boulders and cobbles in the river, which will create a variety of homes for fish. There will be some fast moving shallow areas, and some slow moving pools.

On the river bank, workers will begin planting cottonwoods, willow, spruce and a variety of shrubs and grasses. In some areas, workers will be actually extending the river bank.

“It provides a much more aesthetic area, a much more pleasing, natural state,” Blauch said. “From a fishing standpoint, there will be more habitat where the fish can sit in.”

Restoration work began this past week and will finish in mid-October. Blauch said you’ll see a lot of heavy construction equipment down by the river, and from time to time, you’ll see some cloudy water in the river ” an unavoidable side effect of doing restoration work.

A similar restoration project was done on another section of the river running through the heart of Minturn a few years ago.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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