Vail looks to pass a tougher stream protection ordinance |

Vail looks to pass a tougher stream protection ordinance

Town officials say private property owners are needed to see more improvements in Gore Creek water quality

Populations of macroinvertebrates in Gore Creek declined in 2018 after slowly, but steadily increasing. Those organisms are essential for healthy aquatic life in the stream.

The town of Vail is looking to get tougher to protect Gore Creek.

The Vail Town Council on Tuesday told staff to draft a stream protection ordinance that would apply to private property in town. The creek in 2013 landed on a state list of “impaired waterways,” along with many other mountain towns. The town, the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and other organizations have been working since then to improve water quality in the creek.

Much of that work starts with cleaning up what runs into the creek, including runoff from paved areas, pesticides and other pollutants.

In an April 7 presentation, town watershed education coordinator Pete Wadden reminded council members that after a few years of improvement, the creek’s scores regarding macroinvertebrate populations — the bottom of the creek’s food chain — dipped in 2018. Most of that was due to a change in the way those populations are counted, but those are the figures used by state officials.

Wadden noted that the town has made “huge progress” on its own property along the stream, but not as much on private property.

Wadden said the ordinance the staff is recommending includes a two-tiered setback, with more stringent rules closer to the stream.

Wadden added that the ordinance could restrict pesticide use in town, but the Colorado Legislature will have to pass a law that allows towns to pass those regulations.

Councilmember Travis Coggin said he’s in favor of more regulation, but hoped it could be straightforward.

“On things where we’re trying to change behavior, I’m a fan of keeping things simple,” he said.

Councilmember Jenn Bruno also supports a possible ordinance. But, she added, “I hope we can enforce it.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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