Sign In
Upper Arkansas River Habitat Enhancement Evaluation
Upper Arkansas River Habitat Enhancement Evaluation

​​Led By

Eric Richer​ and Matt Kondratieff 

Study Area

Upper Arkansas River within the Crystal Lakes STL, Reddy SWA, and Hayden Flats

Project Status


Research Objectives

  • To evaluate effectiveness of stream restoration and habitat enhancement treatments
  • To monitor the fishery response to habitat restoration
  • To utilize creel surveys to evaluate angler experience in restored areas​

​​​Project Description

The objectives of the Upper Arkansas River Habitat Restoration project are to rehabilitate and enhance aquatic habitat for an 11-mile reach of the Arkansas River and Lake Fork on both public and private lands. Funding for this project was obtained under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) provisions of CERCLA for harm to natural resources due to hazardous substances released from the California Gulch Superfund Site. This project is designed to improve fish populations in the Arkansas River as compensation to the public. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is responsible for habitat restoration and enhancement on approximately five miles of public lands within the Crystal Lakes State Trust Lands (STL), Reddy State Wildlife Area (SWA) and Hayden Flats Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

The NRDA Trustees Council established the following goals for the restoration project:

  1. Increase trout population density and biomass, including improvement in body condition and fish health.

  2. Improve age and size class structure by increasing spawning areas where possible and provide refugia for juvenile trout and other native fish.

These goals will be achieved by: stabilizing stream banks and promoting diverse stream morphology; reducing erosion and downstream sedimentation; enhancing overhead cover for trout; and creating diverse in-stream habitat including pools, riffles, and bars.

CPW's Aquatic Research Section is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the restoration project in cooperation with researchers at Colorado State University, Colorado Mountain College and the​ US Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional information on the project can be found in the publications listed below. ​

Associated Publications

​​Richer, E.E., E.A. Gates, A.T. Herdrich, and M.C. Kondratieff. 2017. Upper Arkansas River habitat restoration project: 2013-2015 monitoring report. Colorado Parks and Wildlife Technical Publication 49.

Brinkman, S.F., P.H. Davies, D. Hansen, and N. Vieira. 2006. Arkansas River Research Study​. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins, Colorado. 153 pp. ​

Stratus Consulting, Inc. 2010. Draft restoration monitoring and outreach plan for the upper Arkansas River watershed. Boulder, Colorado. 63 pp.