Grand County residents have been at the forefront of water issues in the West. They were the water supplier of the first major trans-mountain diversion project in Colorado and since then have been supplying water to Front Range municipalities. These diversions have also led Grand County residents and Trout Unlimited to be at the forefront of a new initiative- Learning by Doing. Learning By Doing (LBD) is a collaborative group of water stakeholders — including water utilities, nonprofit organizations and county agencies — that meet regularly to monitor river health and undertake projects that safeguard Grand County’s home waters.
LBD has already solved some issues including sending additional flows in Ranch Creek, Vasquez Creek and the Fraser River to benefit aquatic life. Full operation of LBD is expected to start in 2018 when approximately $2 million and 1,000 acre-feet of water will be dedicated to the cooperative effort after final permits are obtained.
Although full operation hasn't begun, the pilot program of LBD was launched this fall as the Fraser Flats Habitat Project. The project plans to improve a degraded 0.9-mile reach of the Fraser River just south of County Road 83. The project builds on restoration of the river upstream on the North 40 and in the Town of Fraser. Fraser Flats will extend improvements to fish habitat on the river.
Fraser Flats combines adjoining public and private sections to maximize efficiencies in costs and to set the stage for future public-private partnerships that benefit river health. County Road 83 will also open for public access and fishing when the project is completed.
The total cost for the project is $200,000 and is funded by a combination of funds committed by LBD cooperative efforts from Grand County, LBD partner contributions, a private landowner, and a Fishing Is Fun grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Design and permitting is currently underway and revegetation of the reach will begin in the Spring of 2017. In fall 2017, construction in the river will take place. That work will concentrate flows into a narrower channel and provide a series of riffles and pools to enhance fish habitat.