Author: Will Rice
This rainbow trout was hooked in the Denver South Platte and taped at 19" - not too shabby for a city fish
One of the projects that we have all been working so hard for has finally started. On March 25, The River Enhancement Project began in the section of the South Platte near the Carson Nature Center. This is the first of at least two projects that are designed to improve and enhance the metro section of the South Platte River. Here are a few quick facts and highlights that cover the work and river improvements:
- Sediment-hungry water released to the river from Chatfield Dam, combined with significantly reduced flows, have altered the geomorphology of the river
- The river has channelized itself since the installation of Chatfield Dam
- Flows have been greatly reduced from natural levels through reservoir storage and consumptive use of water in the metro area. Flow levels once supported a 120-foot-wide river, but now are more typical of a 40-foot-wide river. The wide channel spreads low flows much more shallowly, contributing to warmer water and reduced aquatic habitat
- Create a narrower, meandering low-flow channel
- Provide appropriate instream aquatic habitat including riffles, pools, and glides
- Stabilize eroding banks that can no longer be recreated (sediment flow into the river is stopped at Chatfield Dam) and improve water quality.
- Create additional native riparian habitat
- The entire design concept includes 2+ miles of low-flow channel improvements
- 11 separate pool/riffle/glide features
- 3730 linear feet of bank restoration in 8 locations
- Some improvement to fish habitat is expected, however, this is not the primary objective of the project.
- This project should improve overall stream habitat for aquatic invertebrates, waterfowl, and riparian plants and animals as well
- Phase 1 began March 25, 2013 and is expected to last 60 days. It consists of 1200 ft of river work near the Carson Nature Center, 600 feet of bank stabilization near Red-tail Lake, and the construction of new wetlands in Red-tail Lake as well as in Cooley Lake's northeast corner.
Funding is provided by South Suburban Parks and Recreation, the City of Littleton, Urban Drainage and Flood Control, a Fishing is Fun grant from the State of Colorado and Trout Unlimited.
So if you are out fishing the Denver South Platte this year – don’t be alarmed if you see big yellow equipment in the river. For Trouts Fly Fishing, it is great to see all of the different organizations who have come together over the years to take these steps to help improve this great Denver resource. The Denver chapter of Trout Unlimited (and everyone who has participated and supported Carp Slam) also deserves a big hand and congratulations as they have consistently been on the forefront of making sure that the angling community remains a loud and vocal voice at the table during all of the planning phases of these different projects.
For some background information and history on the overall effort, here is a good piece from the Denver Post.