The Environmental Programs Division recently finalized a large section of the Spring Creek stream restoration project initiated back in 2018.
Bank stabilization, improved water quality, enhanced wildlife habitat, and the prevention of land loss are the primary goals associated with the large-scale restoration project.
The projects are labeled No. 1 and No. 2., encompassing a 5,500-foot section of the stream.
“We are trying to mimic nature through planting of riparian vegetation, which will hold in the stream banks when it floods,” explained Jeff Seebach, Senior Water Quality Specialist with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Environmental Programs Division. “We were fortunate that we had the spring rains following the project, for the establishment of the vegetation,” Seebach said. “We were fortunate with timing.”
Restoration work started mid-April, and finished in late May; ahead of schedule and within budget.
Seebach is the project manager overseeing the construction of the restoration project — start to finish, but the implantation was handled by Southern Ute tribal member Shane Seibel, owner and operator of One Enterprise LLC.
“Having One Enterprise being the contractor on the construction portion has been a key part of the success of the project,” Seebach emphasized. One Enterprise got the contract following the Request for Proposal (RFP) in Dec. of 2018. The project was made possible entirely through state and federal funding, he explained; by way of an EPA Section 319 Nonpoint Source Competitive grant available to authorized tribes.
The rest of the funding was made possible through the Wetlands for Wildlife Program grant made available through Colorado Parks and Wildlife to improve habitat for the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. “[Our] second objective is to improve the habitat for the endangered species,” explained Seebach.
The main objective is to reduce the nutrient rich sediment load flowing into the Pine River. Spring Creek meets the Pine north of La Boca Bridge and eventually flows into Navajo Lake. Too many nutrients carried downstream can adversely affect the natural ecosystems, creating in imbalance for fish and other aquatic plant life.
Seibel and his team worked to replant riparian vegetation along the stream banks, including native plants and grasses using: wetland seed mix, upland seed mix, 2,500 sedge plugs, in addition to thousands of willow stalks harvested from Scott’s Pond. The restoration crews also planted young trees along the oxbows and embankments: 45 narrow leaf cottonwoods (donated by way of LPEA), 45 Fremont cottonwoods, and 45 three leaf sumacs.
“We had an outstanding crew, that was the main thing,” Seibel emphasized. “Those are the ones who make it happen, the operators.”
“My job is scope, schedule and budget. The scope is so important, that helps with meeting expectations. We primarily do earth restoration work, that’s our bread and butter,” Seibel said.
In total, 3,000 feet of the proposed project is now finished — 60 percent of the 5,500 foot Spring Creek stream restoration project. Going forward, EPD will be in charge of monitoring and maintenance of the restored sections of Spring Creek for the next five years — for vegetation and channel stability, Seebach explained. The second section of stream restoration is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2020.