The Healthy River Corridors Project
In Chaffee County, we love our rivers. They support us by providing our drinking water, irrigating local ranches and farms, sustaining critical habitats, and offering residents and visitors vast recreational opportunities. But our rivers are facing serious threats from the risks of drought, wildlife, and development pressures. The UAWP is conducting the first regional-scale health assessment of our stream corridors to ensure they remain healthy and provide the multitude of social, economic, and ecological benefits we rely on.
In the first phase of the Healthy River Corridors Project, the UAWP is conducting an assessment to determine the current conditions of the Arkansas River’s primary tributaries - South Arkansas, Chalk Creek, and Cottonwood Creek - as well as some of the minor tributaries. The assessment will provide the UAWP with a health snapshot of each stream. Each will be assessed along defined reaches using indicators to evaluate the health of the stream along a spectrum from how natural the state of the reach is to how altered the reach may be and why. The outcomes of this assessment will inform a UAWP strategy for how we work together to best protect our community’s rivers and streams.
With financial support from the CWCB, GOCO, and Trout Unlimited, the UAWP has contracted with local experts, Mark Beardsley of Ecometrics and Michael Blazewicz of Round River Design to complete the assessment. It includes three interrelated components:
Upper Arkansas Watershed Literature Review. Information about our watershed exists in a multitude of plans, studies, and reports for the Upper Arkansas River basin, yet there has not been a comprehensive review and synthesis of what we know about current conditions from a watershed perspective. This report will create a summary of existing information to provide a baseline of information.
Stream Health Assessment. This study will take a comprehensive look at the South Arkansas, Chalk Creek, and Cottonwood Creek by evaluating 9 key indicators of stream health: flow regime, material supply, water quality, landscape support, riverscape hydrology, riverscape dynamics, riparian vegetation, physical heterogeneity, and aquatic biota.
Stream Corridor Hazard and Floodplain Connectivity Assessment. This study will focus on identifying geomorphic erosion hazards where public safety should be considered and where opportunity areas for healthy floodplain functions may be maintained or restored within the South Arkansas, Chalk Creek, and Cottonwood Creek floodplain.
Nope! Not yet. Please visit us again soon.
Read the Healthy River Corridors Project Summary
Read the Stream Health Report Card for a 2 mile reach of the South Arkansas River.
Watch UAWP presentation by Mark Beardsley on the stream corridor health assessment methodology.
Watch UAWP presentation by Michael Blazewicz on importance of fluvial geomorphology and hazard mapping methodology.