RMNP makes decision on Grand Ditch restoration
GRAND LAKE—Rocky Mountain National Park is moving forward with restorations near the Upper Kawuneeche Valley, after a ditch breach flooded the area over a decade ago.
A privately owned trans-basin water diversion, the Grand Ditch, breached its bank in May 2003, spilling down an adjacent hillside. The slope gave way, sending a rock-slide into Lulu Creek and the headwaters of the Colorado River. About 22 acres and 1.5 miles of stream and river impact were impacted.
According to National Park Service officials, the 47,600 cubic-yard debris flow changed the river channel, deposited a large debris fan, increased sedimentation in the Colorado River, degraded ecosystems and damaged the aesthetics of a wilderness area. Because the area now contains more sediment and debris that it would under natural conditions, had the man-made canal never existed and never breached its bank, the Park began exploring solutions for restoration.
On Feb. 12, Park representatives announced the availability of their “Record of Decision,” which selected the referred alternative from the Environmental Impact Statement guiding the restoration process. Plans are to remove large debris deposits from the alluvial fan in the Lulu City wetland, stabilizing slopes and banks and restoring the Lulu City wetland by removing debris piles. Some small-scale motorized equipment will be used in the stabilization and revegetation efforts, and large equipment will be used to remove debris deposits and reconfigure the Colorado River through the Lulu City wetland.
According to a Park statement, there will be “short-term, adverse impacts on natural soundscape, wilderness, water resources, weltands, visitor use and experience, and wildlife from restoration activities and the use of mechanized equipment.” The long-term benefits, however, will be the high-level restoration to the area. At this time, he Park does not have any information regarding when restoration activities will begin.
A copy of the Record of Decision is available online at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/romo or by calling 970-586-1206.
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.
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