Swan River Phase 1
Phase 1 of the Swan River Restoration Project was awarded $135,000 through the Fishing Is Fun Program in 2012. Construction began in 2016 with the aim of restoring 3500 linear feet of the Swan River from the devastating impacts of dredge mining in the early 1900s. More than 2.5 miles of the Swan River was “turned upside down” by the dredge mining, covering the river channel with thousands of cubic yards of stone and cobble. Not surprisingly, natural resource and recreation values were wiped out and remained absent for more than a century.
Once all phases of the multi-year project are complete, approximately 15 miles of the Swan River main channel and two tributaries will be reconnected. The project also includes riparian habitat restoration, access trails and public access throughout much of its length. Further details on the history and vision of the project are available at the Restore the Swan River website.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is one of many partners in the project. Others include Summit County, the Town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails Program, Trout Unlimited Gore Range Chapter, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the US Forest Service, Blue River Watershed Council and many more.
The attached aerial photos by Zach Mahone show the condition of the Swan River prior to work commencing and the dramatic improvement by the fall of 2016 after the channel was uncovered and rehabilitation was underway.
Clear Creek Access
Clear Creek is one of three stream fisheries located within 25 miles of Denver. Prior to the 1990s, Clear Creek was considered practically devoid of aquatic life as a result of the impact of mining run-off. However, a long-term and extensive clean-up effort has restored aquatic conditions to the point that the Clear Creek now supports angling recreation. One measure of the improvements from the clean-up program is that four angling guide services operate on Clear Creek.
Completed in 2015, the Clear Creek Access project increased public access to angling opportunities on Clear Creek through the installation of 11 sets of steps at various points between Silver Plume on the west and Tunnel 5 on Route 6 on the east end. The steps are made of locally-sourced stones that fit in with their surroundings. Sites were selected based on several criteria including proximity to quality aquatic habitat, difficult access under unimproved conditions, and availability of safe parking. The result is 11 new angling spots that many anglers were previously only able to look at but could not get to.
Fishing Is Fun awarded $80,000 to the project, a remarkable bargain considering the number of quality stream fishing opportunities opened close to the Denver metro area. Partners in the project include Clear Creek County, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation, West Denver Trout Unlimited, Albert Frei and Sons quarry and others.
CPW Grant Boosts Recovery of Clear Creek
For decades, the health of Clear Creek in Idaho Springs was seriously impaired by mining runoff, inadequate sewage treatment and channelization from adjacent road and highway construction.
In the summer of 2010, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Fishing is Fun grant helped to further enhance fish habitat in a quarter-mile of Clear Creek as it runs through Idaho Springs and Courtney-Ryley-Cooper Park near the Argo Mine Superfund Site. The project created a new urban fishery whose benefits will ripple well beyond Idaho Springs.
The Fishing is Fun grant was used to deepen the stream channel and install structural improvements, to benefit trout, such as boulder clusters, engineered pools and cross vanes. In addition, bank stabilization and revegetation work was performed on both sides of Clear Creek in the project area. The project also features access improvements for mobility impaired anglers.
One local business, the Albert Frei and Sons Quarry, provided indispensable support for the project in the form of tons of rock that was used to create structure and stabilize the stream bank. Additional support came from the Trask Family Foundation, the Henderson Mine as well as the West Denver chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation, which oversaw the project on behalf of the city. Frontier Environmental Services of Arvada, which performed the construction, donated its services for preliminary design and project development.
Improving Angling Access at Longmont's Button Rock Preserve
For 20 years, the public couldn’t visit or fish in Longmont’s Button Rock Preserve. City officials finally allowed access to the reservoir that sits within the 2,500-acre preserve, in 1989. But soon the preserve became too popular and the area suffered from degradation, said Longmont Watershed Ranger Dennis Fisher. Longmont officials decided something should be done.
In the early 1990s, Longmont undertook a $33,000-project to improve access and protect the watershed. With the help of a $24,000 grant from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Fishing is Fun program, improvements were made for the 16,500 people that visit Button Rock each year. Improvements included a parking lot restoration, upgrades for handicap access and a riverside fishing pier.
“I’ve noticed people feel more safe with the handrails there, especially with the elderly and toddlers,” Fisher said of the project. “People come for fishing, hiking around and watching wildlife.”
Longmont has taken advantage of the Fishing is Fun program for several improvements to fishing areas, including McCall Lake that was finished in 2000. The $38,000 project provided fencing around the wetlands area, a gravel pier to the reservoir, a fishing dike and a parking lot. Longmont earned a $26,000 Fishing is Fun grant for the project.
"The benefits at McCall Lake is the resource protection,” Fisher said. “The parking lot before was basically a mudflat and people parked next to the shoreline, degrading the shoreline.”
Seven new projects were approved in May 2001 that ranged in value from $25,000 for a two-unit vault restroom at Yuma fishing pond to $268,100 for a new seven-acre reservoir within Lake County’s $1 million Hayden Meadows Recreation Area. Other projects included new fishing access in Milliken, Brush and Craig, and improvements at Fountain Lake and Wildhorse Creek in Pueblo. All told, the seven projects provided new fishing opportunities for 23,375 anglers a year.