Eagle River Watershed Council Highlight - Inflow Newsletter 7/10/2014
Guest Post written by Kate Burchenal
The Eagle River Watershed Council advocates for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle Rivers through research, education, and projects. We operate in the Eagle Valley and pride ourselves on being a collaborative organization with partners at the local, state and federal levels. You can find us and our River Watch sampling sites on maps on the Colorado Watershed Assembly's website.
Historically, we have been a small organization with wide-reaching impacts. For example, the Watershed Council was the recipient of the Vail Valley Partnership’s Small Nonprofit of the Year award in 2013. We are excited to announce that we have recently hired Doug Serrill as our projects and events coordinator. As a result, we have grown our full-time staff from 2 to 3 – not large by most standards but we are excited for the opportunities that this will bring. This is a new position for the Watershed Council that will have a big impact on the organization as a whole.
This spring, we wrapped up a project with the US Forest Service on Red Dirt Creek. Through these efforts, we planted over 800 willows and roses, removed 2.5 miles of road that was damaging the creek, and re-contoured 40 gullies and draws. It was a successful collaboration with the Forest Service on all counts and we are looking forward to diving into another project on Meadow Creek with them this summer.
The Meadow Creek project is entirely different from Red Dirt Creek. Meadow Creek is an example of pristine cutthroat trout habitat in Eagle’s Nest Wilderness. Non-native species of trout have invaded the reach and are harming the cutthroat trout population through predation and hybridization. The goal of this project is to rid the reach of all non-native fish and create a sturdy migration barrier to prevent future invasions. We are looking forward to having Serrill gets his feet wet with this exciting project (pun intended).
Projects are an integral part of the Watershed Council’s work, as is education. We recognize that river guides have a unique opportunity to connect with the visiting population and act as ambassadors for our watershed. Consistent client contact gives guides the chance to educate individuals through impromptu “teachable moments,” providing answers to those who otherwise might not have access to such information. For this reason, in 2013 ERWC launched an educational program for raft guides. In 2014, we have extended the program, now called the River Guide Education Program (RGEP), to include fishing, kayaking, stand up paddle and raft guides. We hope to reach over 100 guides annually.
When it comes down to it, we know that getting people out on the water is the best way to connect them to these incredible resources. Each year, we invite people to “discover their rivers” through our RiverFest fundraising event. Coming up on Saturday, August 9th, our 5th annual RiverFest is going to be bigger and better than ever! We will float a gorgeous stretch of the Upper Colorado River and take out at the historic Colorado River Ranch for a night of festivities. We will dance to live music, enjoy a great barbecue and local beer, play lawn games and jump around in a bouncy castle. This is an event not to be missed! Click here for more information and to buy your tickets today!