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River Restoration

Buffalo Peaks Ranch

The Buffalo Peaks Ranch project is an effort by CTU and its chapters to restore fish habitat on a 5-mile segment of public water along the Middle Fork South Platte River in Park County, just upstream from the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area. The stream has been damaged by historic grazing, and the project will help restore a more natural channel condition, provide more pools and structure for fish habitat, and protect riparian habitat through fencing to manage grazing use on the property.

Timeline

May 2008. After a two-week delay due to snow conditions, Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC) delivered over 650 tons of boulders and riprap, strategically placed to create prime habitat for trout and prevent erosion of the banks. Planting crews harvested several of the willows in the area and then re-planted them on the banks. In addition, crews are seeding, laying fabric and installing new fencing. A truck load of potted, five gallon shrubs was delivered.

July 2008. We got 200 plants in the ground, installed four footbridges and removed a bunch of barbed wire fencing. Our undying gratitude to:

  1. Todd Street and Sarah Stinchcomb from ERC, thanks for the expertise! Special mention for Sarah, who battled on even after suffering a fence-inflicted wound to her side.
  2. Charlie Meyers from the Denver Post, thanks for taking the time to visit and chat; coverage for projects like BPR will make it easier for future stream restoration projects.
  3. Ed Eberle, thanks for the labor and materials to build the footbridges. Some of us wish they weren’t so darn heavy, but we know they will last a long time. Thanks also for “donating” your raft – it was great while it lasted.
  4. Bob Schmidt, Ken Neubecker and Kendall Henry. Thanks for working both Saturday and Sunday!
  5. To the other volunteers, in no particular order: Michael Harrington, Bill Honeyfield, Ralph Rhodes, Wes Carey, Bob Gray, Lee Schilling, Jan Dvorak, Neil Dvorak, Don Logelin, Tom Thomas, Fred Rasmussen, Judy Henning, Mike Wehmeyer, Robin Jones, Bill McLaughlin, John Meyer, Kelvin Melton, Gary Rodgers, Phil Beranato, Mike Hobbs, John Aaron, Sam Humpert and Andy Idema. Our sincere apologies if we left someone out – that’s why we had the sign-up sheet!
  6. Thanks also to Mark at CUSP (Coalition for the Upper South Platte) for lending us the shovels.
  7. And of course, major kudos to Sinjin Eberle for leading this project!

September 2008. Buffalo Peaks Ranch is showing some early signs of success. Sinjin Eberle, project director for the BPR restoration, visited the property on September 18. At 43 cfs, the water looked great – even at this relatively low flow, there was plenty of deeper water for trout, a key design goal in the work performed by ERC. Sinjin reports seeing plenty of 8″-10″ browns and rainbows, plus some heart-racing lunkers in the deep pools. The willow stakes and bushes are developing exceptionally well. The rose bushes are already going dormant, so we won’t really know if the roots took hold until next spring. The four footbridges look almost brand new! A trail is developing in upper section, which means the ranch is attracting more foot traffic. One of the DOW’s measures of success is the number of “angler fishing days,” so the increased foot traffic is a very encouraging sign.

Some of the increased foot traffic is, no doubt, due to the coverage BPR received in the Denver Post. Links to the Charlie Meyers’ article and blog entry are shown below.