Wildlands Restoration Volunteers Take Action to Restore and Care for the Land in 2010

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by Jarret Roberts, WRV

In 2010, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) spearheaded a myriad of projects. In addition to student outreach, leadership training and trail work, WRV engaged in riparian restoration activities, detailed below.

Since its first project in 1998, WRV has always had its roots in riparian and stream restoration. It is no surprise that nearly a third this season’s projects involved volunteers rolling up their pants or just jumping right in. In early April on one of the first projects of the season at Burns Tributary, volunteers planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs, removed invasive species, and bolstered the stream channel to improve an important wildlife corridor between the foothills and the Fossil Creek Natural Area. While some WRV volunteers spent the first day of the season on the Burns Tributary project, others could be found at the not-so-peacefully name Carnage Canyon. Here, volunteers added to the results of six years of successful work, by planting over one thousand native shrubs! A project of this size, lasting over half a decade can only be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of many organizations. Thanks to the US Forest Service, James Creek Watershed Initiative, Walsh Environmental, Budhoe Backhoe, and the hundreds of volunteers that have had and are continuing to have such a positive effect on the entire watershed.

This year, in the spirit of long-term stewardship, a few of our projects brought volunteers for the first time to sites that are part of WRV’s new adoption program. Places like Rock Creek on the South County Grasslands, Campbell Valley North of Fort Collins, and Boulder Creek will continue to benefit from multiple WRV projects each year. At Rock Creek volunteers worked with Boulder County Parks and Open Space to re-channel the stream, bringing back the natural meander and adding substantial riparian habitat to the ecosystem. Much farther north, at Campbell Valley, an onslaught of volunteers fought to stem the processes that have already resulted in the loss of over 150,000,000 cubic feet of sediment. Using a treatment involving check dams, seeding and erosion matting WRVers took the first steps this year to heal gullies, some of which were forty feet tall. And along a 2.3 mile stretch of Boulder Creek volunteers began the process of removing aggressive non-native fauna and replacing it with native species. Restoring this area to a healthy riparian zone will better support a variety of species, as well as benefit the local human community by reducing non-point source pollution and mitigating flood hazards.

At the South Boulder Creek Aquatic Restoration site over a month of prep work went into adding sinuosity, creating pools, and narrowing the channel. These new banks became the canvas for volunteers to paint a story of a new habitat with hundreds of plants and thousands of seeds.

Volunteers ventured off the beaten path at the four-day Tarryall Creek Restoration project, restoring one of Colorado’s hidden treasures. Additionally, three riparian restoration projects out near Pawnee Buttes offered volunteers a similar chance to get away from the hustle and bustle and restore a half-mile tree and shrub community along Little Owl Creek. Areas like Tarryall and Pawnee are rare riparian areas found here in the arid west. The planting done at riparian sites is critical to providing habitat for wildlife. Although riparian areas make up just five percent of the land in our region of the country, 80 percent of wildlife frequents these areas at some point in their life cycle.

Longmont Creek Restoration was one of the last chances of the year for volunteers to get out on a WRV project. Over a 100 volunteers planted native shrubs and trees along a one to two mile stretch of St. Vrain Creek near Izaak Walton Park. These native plants replaced the massive amounts of invasive Russian olive that were removed in 2008.