CRA Joins Volunteer Effort to Restore James Creek

Share

by Kimberly Kosmenko, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers

 James Creek
Scenic James Creek is the single source of drinking water for Jamestown, CO.

As the sun warmed Jamestown through the morning of Saturday, May 21st, over sixty volunteers gathered for the penultimate push toward restoring long-damaged James Creek. The stream provides the single source of clean drinking water for the residents of Jamestown, Colorado. Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and the James Creek Watershed Initiative partnered for their eighth joint volunteer restoration project at the creek since 2000, welcoming a group from the Colorado Riparian Association among the many enthusiastic participants. After the project was postponed from April 30, when a heavy spring storm blanketed Jamestown with snow, the assembled group appreciated the arrival of a sunny spring project day all the more. Spring runoff was hitting its peak in May, raising the creek to a roaring water level and causing a small portion to overflow its banks and run down the streamside road. The high, turbid water was a clear visual reminder of the need to complete the ongoing work to reduce erosion to a more natural level.

The Colorado Riparian Association’s (CRA) participation in the James Creek Restoration Project marked the first hands-on activity in its developing partnership with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV). WRV completes more than fifteen volunteer-based projects focused on ecological restoration and community building each year, with a number of riparian projects planned for the 2005 season. Boulder-based WRV partners with land management agencies to restore public lands along the northern Front Range area. The James Creek project was a natural fit for WRV and CRA to work together, with two CRA members – Alan Carpenter and Eric August – signed on as volunteer technical advisors with the project planning team, and another – Steve Johnson – stepping in as a crew leader.

In planning the technical aspects of the project, Alan and Eric joined Ed Self of WRV in designating stream bank stabilization and habitat enhancement techniques along a three-mile stretch of the creek. Years of uncontrolled motorized recreation and previous mining practices had caused significant erosion of the hillslopes along the stream corridor. Heavy sedimentation into the stream overwhelmed the capacity of Jamestown’s water treatment plant and prevented the water supply from meeting EPA standards for drinking quality. The James Creek Watershed Initiative (JCWI) formed in 1999 to address the problem. The JCWI worked with the County to close the dirt road adjacent to the creek and designed a restoration plan in cooperation with numerous local agencies and interests. WRV joined the restoration effort in the early stages, working with Colleen Williams of JCWI to organize the first large-scale restoration project in the area to control erosion and revegetate Fairday Meadow, an area that had seen particularly heavy motorized recreation use.

 Alan Carpenter
Lead technical advisor and CRA member Alan Carpenter points out an area for willow planting. Alan and CRA member Eric August were an invaluable part of the project planning process.

This year’s group of volunteers assembled into crews led by trained WRV crew leaders to complete waterbars and to plant willows, choke cherries and native seed at over 50 sites along the creek. Several days of heavy equipment site preparation preceded the volunteer day, improving road drainage and preparing planting sites. These preparations made it possible for a group of volunteers with varying levels of restoration knowledge to efficiently plant hundreds of shrubs and complete dozens of modified and standard water bars. Each of the seven crews received detailed instructions for their sections and had access to a stash of appropriate tools for the job. Many areas were seeded with a native mix developed from Alan Carpenter’s suggestions. Throughout the day, the volunteer technical advisors walked between crews of volunteers to answer questions and offer advice. Midway through the day, Alan Carpenter offered a talk to CRA and other volunteers about the history and technical aspects of the project and WRV’s restoration work.

At the end of the day, with work completed and quantities of plants and seed prepared to grow along the stream, volunteers returned to the center of Jamestown for a celebratory dinner in the Town Hall. A delicious buffet donated by the Masa Grill and live music from a local Jamestown musician were waiting, thanks to a crew of volunteers from Jamestown and WRV that had prepared for the evening. The party marked the near-end of many years of restoration work along James Creek, and offered a celebratory finish to the day’s work. For the many residents of Jamestown who eagerly volunteered to take part in the restoration, the celebration of completing the bulk of work along the creek meant their water supply would be in good condition.

WRV thanks CRA for playing an important role in the success of our 2005 work at James Creek. We hope to welcome additional CRA members to future restoration projects. Our next several projects include the Rock Creek Wetland Restoration (June 15); Glacier Creek Wetland Restoration at Rocky Mountain National Park (June 25-26); Boulder Creek Restoration/ Eurasian Water Milfoil removal (July 9); and many other projects scheduled throughout the summer and fall. We’re seeking a volunteer technical advisor with wetland restoration experience for our St. Vrain State Park project on October 8, so please get in touch if you’re interested in contributing your time and knowledge to this 80-volunteer project. For more information on these or other WRV projects, see our website at www.wlrv.org, or call or email Kimberly Kosmenko at             303.543.1411       or kimberly@wlrv.org.