Volunteers sought for Eagle River work | VailDaily.com

Volunteers sought for Eagle River work

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado – As the Eagle River approaches its low flow, it’s possible to get to work in and around the rivers and tributaries.

This fall the Eagle River Watershed Council is back working in the Eagle River at Edwards. The purpose of the work is to restore the health of the river in this 1.6-mile stretch, making it run colder, faster and deeper during low flow – and creating a better habitat for fish.

The council has several volunteer-based projects that will make a big impact on the river health.

The first project is to revegetate the newly reconfigured banks of the river, which had lost their vegetation to cattle grazing. Vegetation holds the banks, preventing erosion and shading the river, which makes the water cooler. As leaves and branches fall into the water, they create hiding places for fish and food for the bugs the fish eat.

The council needs teams to create “willow wattles” which will be staked in place on the river banks. Wattles are 16- to 19-inch bundles of willow branches, about 7 feet in length, stuffed with willow trimmings and wrapped with twine. The stakes will be made from dormant willows which will take root and produce willow plants next spring.

The council needs lots of volunteers to create more than 700 wattles before the end of October. It also need volunteers to harvest 225 cottonwood branches, which will also be planted in the banks for the same project. If you would like to join a group to work down by the river, we have the following volunteer dates planned: Oct. 6, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26 and 27.

For those who want to grab friends or co-workers and form a own team, the council can provide a team leader and the team can pick its own date. Work usually starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. A half-day commitment is also great.

The council also has a done-in-a-day project on Friday, Oct. 8, with the U.S. Forest Service on Red Dirt Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. The purpose of this project is to revegetate cattle grazing impact that has threatened a fragile population of Colorado cut throat trout that inhabit the degraded creek. Volunteers will plant willows and trees, relocate roses and create willow bundles. The Forest Service will pick up our volunteers at the Dotsero parking lot at 8 a.m. for a 45-minute drive up the Colorado, then west, to the project. Volunteers will leave the site at 3:30 p.m. There are five volunteer slots available.

Ever caught hundreds of fish in one day? The Watershed Council will be electrofishing on Gore Creek and the Eagle River with the Colorado Division of Wildlife today, Wednesday and Thursday. The council monitors impacts on water quality in Eagle County’s rivers, but also wants to know how the fish are dealing with these varied impacts. The fish collected are counted, weighed and measured, then returned to the stream. Volunteers wading in the river net fish and deliver them to the fish biologist’s holding tank. These positions are almost filled, but we can put you on a waiting list.

To become an Eagle River Watershed Council volunteer, contact the council’s office in Avon at 970-827-5406 or e-mail volunteer@erwc.org. Learn more about the projects on the council’s website http://www.erwc.org.

The Eagle River Watershed Council advocates for the health and conservation of the Eagle and Upper Colorado Rover basins.

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