River Restoration Tour Stops At Sylvan Dale

Four years after a monster flood tore through the Big Thompson River corridor, great progress has been made in restoring ecological health and resilience to a dozen of the hardest hit stream reaches.

Shayna Jones, Director of Big Thompson Watershed Coalition, leads river restoration tour

These projects, carried out by the non-profit Big Thompson Watershed Coalition, were visited by a busload of landowners, public officials, technical advisers on September 27, 2017.  One stop was at Sylvan Dale Ranch, where trout habitat was restored along a mile of river.  Renewed water flows in a side channel will be the location of environmental education courses for the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning, a new non-profit that will hopefully assume ownership of the 3200-acre ranch in the future.

A great description of the tour appeared in today’s Loveland Reporter-Herald.


Trout Habitat River Restoration at Sylvan Dale Ranch

Jurassic beast, monster jaws scooping mouthfuls of rocks and cobble, seizing boulders the size of refrigerators, uprooting trees, pushing aside mounds of rubble as if they were feathers, roaring and clanking.  Then, with a sudden personality change, it swivels its long neck around to gently sprinkle sand and gravel over the sloped river bank, pat it down with gentle bumps of its huge head, nudge rocks into place, scraping and smoothing the surface as if building a nest, then washing the dirt off the rocks with a slurp from the river water splashed onto the bank.

The 2013 Big Thompson River flood devastated trout habitat, leaving behind a “sluice-box” run of shallow water rushing down a uniform gradient with no holding water for trout.  The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition obtained a flood recovery grant to restore the stream here at Sylvan Dale and in several other reaches of the river.  Work was completed in May 2017 by Environmental Resource Consultants.  The trout are happy.  So are the anglers.