National Forest Foundation Camp Hale Eagle River Headwaters Restoration Project 2014
(Healthy Rivers Fund $20,000)
In 1942, the Eagle River headwaters and 240,000 surrounding acres became a warfare training camp for over 17,000 World War II solders, known as Camp Hale. The camp was deactivated in 1964 and returned to the U.S. Forest Service for management. When Camp Hale was established, the large wetlands meadow complex surrounding the Eagle River was drained. 200,000 cubic yards of soil fill was imported to channelize the meandering East and South Forks of the Eagle River headwaters into a three-mile linear ditch. These activities left the river channel much steeper and 40 percent shorter than its natural course. Today, the Eagle River headwaters are essentially “disconnected” from their natural floodplain.
The National Forest Foundation (NFF) is restoring the site through a five-year, multi-stakeholder conservation campaign. The project has brought together stakeholders and interested parties to collaboratively develop a shared vision for future improvements to the site. Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund grant funding was awarded to support the group in the facilitation of stakeholder meetings, facilitation of working group meetings, hosting stakeholder field trips, and the development of a project master plan.
Following the second stakeholder meeting in March 2014, the group began to develop the project master plan document, which is now complete. The master plan incorporated vast stakeholder involvement and has outlined long-term planning, which will be used to carry out Phase II of the project. Phase II will establish partnerships with local nonprofits, contractors, and the U.S. Forest Service to implement science-based ecological restoration activities, while honoring the area’s history and promoting sustainable use of the resources.