by Bob Berwyn Summit County Citizen's Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With its flows reduced by upstream tributary diversions, and its river-bottom cobbles choked by highway traction sand, the Fraser River has long been a symbol of the imbalance between resource protection and other uses of water in Colorado.
But the Grand County stream will soon get partial relief, as various agencies from both sides of the Continental Divide teamed up to construct a settling pond near the entrance to the Mary Jane ski area in a project tha symbolizes an emerging spirit of tran-smountain cooperation.
Better maintenance and capture of highway sand can help reduce impacts to tiny aquatic organisms that form the base of the food chain in the river, helping to sustain healthy fisheries. The larvae of the aquatic insects need a coarse bed of rocks at the bottom of the stream to thrive. When the sand fills in all the gaps between the rocks, the bugs have nowhere to go.
The settling pond will also protect municipal and resort water infrastructure and equipment.