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Heavy equipment will be working along Tiger Road through the end of the construction season
Contact: Jordan Mead, Resource Specialist, Summit County Open Space and Trails Department
SUMMIT COUNTY – On July 26, contractors working for Summit County and Town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails Departments initiated work to restore a naturalized stream channel to the Swan River near Breckenridge. Work on “Reach B” will include excavating about 4800 feet of new stream channel and two and a half acres of open water, along with final grading and revegetation of approximately 13 acres of riparian area, and five acres of uplands. The team will also be installing a 50-foot bridge on Rock Island Road. Work is expected to continue through the end of October and Rock Island Road will remain open during the project.
Restoration efforts on Reach B began in 2017, when Summit County was granted a Conditional Use Permit to crush and sell gravel from the Williams Placer site. This provided a mechanism for turning gravel waste left behind by dredge boats into a revenue source specifically dedicated for stream restoration. The contract for crushing and gravel mining operations also required the mining contractor to provide top soil and other materials in sufficient quantities for completing the stream restoration, significantly reducing the cost of the project. “We are extremely excited to see this unique restoration of the Swan River moving into final construction,” said Summit County Commissioner, Elisabeth Lawrence. “This is a legacy that we are proud to create for current and future generations, and all the partnerships that made this possible have been outstanding.”
A team from Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC) and Tezak Heavy Equipment, who previously completed the restoration of Reach A of the Swan River on County and Town-owned Open Space, was engaged in 2019 to design and implement the restoration of Reach B. “The design/build team of ERC and Tezak provides continuity between Reaches A and B, as well as between the design and build phases. Having a single team design the stream and carry out that design avoids any disconnect between the vision of the designer and the implementation of that vision by the construction team,” said Open Space and Trails Director, Brian Lorch..
The design was reviewed by a team from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, and USDA Forest Service Hydrologists. “Reach B features several modifications and incorporates lessons learned from Reach A. These include a broader, more gently sloping floodplain, a higher level of variability in stream width and depth, alternative bank stabilization methods, and more dense planting thickets,” said Summit County Resource Specialist, Jordan Mead. Reach B is the final area to be restored on publicly-owned open space lands.
Following input and approval by the technical team, the design was presented to stakeholders including Summit County Government, Town of Breckenridge, USDA Forest Service - White River National Forest, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, Blue River Watershed Group, Trout Unlimited, National Fish and Wildlife Federation, and others. The design and project budgets were then presented to the Board of County Commissioners and the general public in the annual Conditional Use Permit update meeting on June 1, 2021. The BOCC gave direction to move forward with this project in that meeting.
Gravel crushing efforts have concluded on the site and the remaining stockpiles are being hauled away to facilitate the establishment of the new stream channel and surrounding riparian and upland habitat. “By the end of October, we will see a complete transformation of this site from a field of gravel to a functioning stream that will support a diverse and healthy ecosystem,” said Mead.
Funding for Reach B Restoration is being provided through a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Wetlands and the Riparian Restoration grant, a National Fish and Wildlife Federation RESTORE grant, and a United States Fish and Wildlife Service “Fishing is Fun” grant, with matching funds from gravel revenues, Summit County Government, and the Town of Breckenridge. For more information on the Swan River Restoration, please see the Summit County Open Space and Trails website, and follow the Swan River Restoration blog.