Tour reveals river damage in Edwards

Sarah MausolfVail Correspondent Post Independent

The Eagle River Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited invited stakeholders on a rafting trip to tour the length of river where the $4 million restoration project is taking place.

About two thirds of the river restoration project is complete, said Melissa Macdonald, executive director of the watershed council. In 2008, workers added stones along the banks that pinch the water into a narrower, deeper channel. That helps keep fish healthy when the river is low. This stretch of the river gets wide and hot during low flow times, which is bad for fish, Macdonald said.

“The fish will either die or leave,” she said.

As houses and parking lots proliferated upstream, Ash said water that would normally soak into the ground instead flowed into the river. That runoff carried extra sediment downstream, depositing it in this stretch of the river.

That sediment caused the river to widen out, and clogged pebbles along the bottom that are an important habitat for the bugs that fish eat.

The restoration project has been fixing those areas to make them more friendly for trout.