Eagle River Watershed Council: Plenty to celebrate in 2019 | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Watershed Council: Plenty to celebrate in 2019

Larissa Read
The Current
The Eagle River at Red Canyon showing off early season snow.
Ken Neubecker | Special to the Daily

Fresh snow is on the ground and another (water) year is in the rearview mirror. Those snowy days in June were a bit much for most of us, but it’s all money in the natural bank account that is the Eagle River watershed.

This year, the Eagle River Watershed Council redoubled our efforts behind the verb in our mission statement — to advocate for the health and conservation of the Eagle and Upper Colorado rivers. And as always, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Our first annual Eagle River Water Festival was a great success — more than 350 fifth graders from Eagle County public elementary schools attended a half-day of field and classroom activities. Our 16 partners helped us stage 18 classes and field stations ranging from water quality testing to fly casting, sparking curiosity surrounding our watershed and inspiring the next generation of water stewards. Thank you to Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement and Colorado Mountain College for helping us host an amazing inaugural event. We are already looking forward to next year.

In addition to hosting the highly successful 19th Annual Community Pride Highway Cleanup and 25th Annual (wow!) River Cleanup, the Watershed Council led several larger-scale restoration projects this year. The East Vail Riparian Habitat Project, at the Sundial Townhomes in Vail, brought together homeowners, town of Vail colleagues, and partners to remove turfgrass and reconnect the floodplain to Gore Creek.

Our collective goals were to reduce erosion on the banks, provide natural filtration of runoff into the creek, and support a native riparian zone. We also hosted a community cleanup at Lake Creek Village, first-time effort with hardworking residents and neighbors who pulled 600 pounds of trash and 100 pounds of recycling out of the Eagle River and nearby wetlands.

The Watershed Council is continuing to coordinate the Eagle River Community Water Plan — engaging a wide range of stakeholders and community members alike, to develop proactive water management recommendations. Climate change, population growth and increasing municipal demand, and projects related to the Eagle River Memorandum of Understanding, are all being considered in this process.

Our ongoing Watershed Wednesday series this year included our third annual bilingual Community Float, a sold-out Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a bike tour combined with a whiskey tasting to learn about local watershed protection efforts, and a full-house presentation about cloud seeding in Colorado. By your very attendance at these educational programs, you show your fellow community members that you care about clean and healthy rivers and support ERWC’s efforts to do the same. Thank you so much.

Behind the scenes at the Watershed Council, 2019 has been an exciting year. We have added a development and communications coordinator position, which will round out our team of four full-time employees. We also hosted both an AmeriCorps Vista intern and a high school intern in 2019, who helped us bring all these community efforts to life. In addition, our world headquarters moved to 461 Railroad Ave, Unit C, in Gypsum, where we now have abundant space for all our team members, maps, and field supplies. Please stop by and say hello!

As a community-based nonprofit we depend upon the support of our community to continue our programs — if river protection, advocacy and restoration is important to you, please consider including us in your annual giving. If you are interested in learning more about our river restoration projects or community events, if you want to sign up for our newsletter, make a donation, or if you would like to align your business with one of our several partnership programs, please contact us at 970-827-5406 or check out our webpage at erwc.org. We’ve already got some fun events in the works for winter and spring 2020 — stay tuned!

Larissa Read is the board president for Eagle River Watershed Council. The Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education and projects.