Tribal divisions team up on Beaver Creek restoration

Pete Nylander
Pete Nylander
Pete Nylander (second from left), senior water quality specialist for the Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division, speaks with Water Resources Division Head Chuck Lawler, as Soil Conservation Technician Preston Abeyta works in Beaver Creek breaking ice and positioning rocks just off of La Plata County Road 524 north of Ignacio. Travis Wheeler (center), water resources technician, checks out the “steps” Abeyta is creating in the stream.
Pete Nylander, senior water quality specialist for the Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division, positions rocks placed into Beaver Creek as part of a stream restoration project.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum

The Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division and Water Resources Division teamed up this week to finish a stream restoration project on Beaver Creek north of Ignacio, which will slow erosion along tribal land.

It was critical to finish the project near La Plata County Road 524 before the inevitably approaching spring runoff, said Senior Water Specialist Pete Nylander. If the creek were not repaired, the increased flow of water downstream would have torn up the stream floor and caused banks to recede further into tribal land, he said.

“It’s a long process,” Nylander said, referring to the process of obtaining funding for the project from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other sources.

Most stream restoration projects take years due to required paperwork and time spent waiting for grants, he said. But Water Resources and EPD were able to team up and fix the damage before flood season became an issue.

“It really saved us,” Nylander said, noting the successful collaboration between the two divisions. Water Resources provided the equipment and supplies needed to complete the project.

The EPD has completed 10 stream restorations on the reservation since 1999, and works toward completing one a year, Nylander said. In addition to mitigating erosion, the division also aims to improve the water quality in local streams and rivers.

The same section of Beaver Creek received maintenance in 2010. But the work done on the stream was partially destroyed during last fall’s heavy rainfall.

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