Success leads to more Eagle River projects |

Success leads to more Eagle River projects

Nicole Frey

MINTURN – Restoring a section of the Eagle River and securing wetlands on Tennessee Pass have proven restoration projects on the Eagle River can be successful. Accruing interest for since 1988, $1.7 million in Natural Resource Damage Fund money from former Eagle Mine at Belden owner Gulf Point Western grew to about $3.25 million. Gulf Point Western had been fined for allowing toxic minerals from the mine to spill into the river. Allowing most of the cleanup to happen first, the state finally doled out $1.21 million to Minturn and the Eagle Valley Land Trust, a land conservation group, for two projects in 2002. The land trust, which was awarded $210,000 from the state, worked with the Eagle River Watershed Council, which had received money for the project from Great Outdoors Colorado, a state conservation fund. The groups bought 62 acres of wetlands and forest near the top of Tennessee pass, said Cindy Cohagen, director of the land trust. The land trust’s president emeritus, Tom Steinberg, said the land was threatened by development. “Because it was an old mining town, Taylor City, people were allowed to buy chunks of land and develop it,” Steinberg said. “We stopped a development that would have spoiled the wilderness aspect, and it’s now preserved forever.”Minturn worked downstream from the mine. With $1 million from the damage fund, along with other money, the town restored almost a mile of the river and surrounding land, said Troy Thompson, a water resource engineer who worked with Minturn.The river was reshaped to create a variety of fast and slow moving pools and thus, a better habitat for fish and insects. Terraces were created on the banks to make it easier for animals to drink from the river. Going into a second round of damage fund allocations, Minturn and the watershed council hope to secure more money for future projects, but the land trust said they’ll abstain from requesting more funding. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or Vail, Colorado

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