Montrose, CO — The City of Montrose has been selected to receive $400,000 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) through the Colorado Watershed Restoration Program for improvements on the Uncompahgre River.
The grant funds will be used to begin Phase 1 of river restoration improvements on 0.65 miles, or 3,400 feet, of the Uncompahgre River, traversing Montrose.
The project will include reestablishing a resilient channel, connecting the river to its floodplain, creating a stable riparian zone, improving fish and other aquatic habitats, stabilizing the river banks, and providing river access to the public.
A variety of land use practices, flow modifications, and encroachment have impacted the Uncompahgre River and resulted in an overly wide channel, bank stabilization issues, and lack of aquatic and riparian habitat. Within the project area, approximately two-thirds of the river contains what would be considered marginal fish habitat; the remainder is generally devoid of any suitable fish habitat. Aerial imagery indicates the river’s channel has moved approximately 400 feet over the past 50 years.
“We couldn’t have made it to this point without the help of the volunteer river design committee and are excited to make this project a reality for Montrose," said City Engineer Scott Murphy. "It was a pleasure to work with such a community-focused committee throughout the project’s design process."
The design contract for the project was awarded to Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC) in 2017 and the project design is currently 70 percent completed. This project is being driven by a diverse group of organizations that have met on a regular basis as part of the River Restoration Committee to provide the design firm with valuable feedback.
The project complements the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) development and the soon-to-be-constructed Great Outdoors Connect Trail.
This is the first step in the development of a Gold Medal fishery within the Uncompahgre River. Once completed, this section of the river could be designated a Gold Medal fishery, joining a section of Gunnison river that flows through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and adjoining Gunnison Gorge as the other Gold Medal waters in the vicinity of Montrose.
Mayfly Outdoors, the parent company of Abel and Ross Reels, is currently building a 41,000 sq. ft. fly-fishing reel manufacturing facility along the Uncompahgre River and recently donated 42 acres of land along the river to the city.
"We are thrilled to see the support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The city's vision for the river corridor is extraordinary, and their team is doing a great job. Our community should be proud,” said David Dragoo, president of Mayfly Outdoors.
The City of Montrose has a long-standing record of work to preserve, protect, and enhance the Uncompahgre River corridor, beginning with the acquisition of land along the river to build Riverbottom Park in the early 1970s.
“This project will continue to enhance one of our community’s greatest assets, the Uncompahgre River. The value of our river has caught the attention of anglers, white water enthusiasts, and companies like Mayfly Outdoors who want to protect the Uncompahgre because of everything it offers," said city Grant Coordinator Kendall Cramer. "The Colorado Water Conservation Board joins a growing a list of individuals and organizations that have this shared interest. We are grateful for their support."
The city anticipates construction to begin in winter 2019-2020. Due to river flows, work must be completed within a four-month timeframe from November to February when the river is at its lowest.
The project will be implemented by a stream-restoration contractor selected through the city’s competitive bidding process.
This project is a major element of the MURA Plan of Development. A $1.2 million tax increment funding match is a topic of discussion at an upcoming MURA board meeting. Any resolution to approve the matching funds will be presented before the City Council in the near future.
The city applied for funding in October 2018. The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved funding for the project at their January 28, 2018, board meeting.
Presently Colorado has 322 miles of Gold Medal waters located in 15 different sections around the state.
For more city news visit: CityOfMontrose.org.