The devastating flood of September 2013 deposited tons of rocks and silt in the old river channel and killed most of the trout and aquatic insects. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Larimer County and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, a temporary channel was re-established in March 2014. As of August, aquatic insects were making a comeback, brown trout had reappeared, and an experimental stocking of rainbows proved successful, with wide-girth trout now taking on the bright colors of wild trout.
Much remains to be done. Parts of the channel are straight “sluice-box” runs with little or no trout holding water. Corey Engen, a highly regarded fisheries habitat consultant and owner of Flywater, Inc., is creating a state-of-the art aquatic habitat design for the 3-mile reach of river from the mouth of the canyon downstream past the City of Loveland Filtration plant.
The design work is financed by grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the City of Loveland, supplemented by the new Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale Ranch, which will use this design as a model for onsite experiential learning events for people who want to know more about river recovery and trout habitat design.
When the design is finished, we’ll be raising funds to leverage other grant monies needed for the heavy lifting work requiring large, expensive equipment.