Forest Service Continuous Efforts for Riparian Protection along the South Platte River – Wildcat Canyon

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by Stephanie Howard, U.S. Forest Service

 


 Widcat photo 1.
Slopes of road sloughing into river.

Wildcat Canyon is very popular with 4WD enthusiasts due to the steep terrain, challenging rock and rewarding river at the bottom. Since the late 1980’s, the US Forest Service has focused watershed, fisheries and recreation efforts within Wildcat Canyon to address damage to the riparian area and extensive sedimentation. Approximately 60 miles of road have been closed, vehicles periodically removed from the river, and over two miles of riparian post-n-cable fence constructed. These efforts have dramatically improved the condition of the watershed, but constant, annual effort is required.

The health of the watershed has improved with the help of several partners: Predator 4WD out of Colorado Springs, in particular, has contributed volunteers, supplies, 4WD vehicles and tractors for two decades, and their leadership and dedication has attracted the attention many other 4WD groups. Trout Unlimited, (Cutthroat Chapter) and Denver Water have also worked with the Forest Service in improving the health of the South Platte River.

 Wildcat photo 2.
View near crossing from Corral Creek.
Fence adjusted by Predator in fall of -98.

Every year new unauthorized roads are created and fencing is removed. The use in Wildcat Canyon continues to rise. Several of the proposed alternatives in the Wild and Scenic River study would classify Wildcat Canyon as “scenic” and no new roads will be allowed, yet the current 4WD access roads to the river would remain. A continuous effort will be required forever in order to protect water quality and riparian habitat while providing a challenging 4WD experience for the public.