Animas River rehabilitation

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From the Durango Telegraph “…the City of Durango was awarded an $86,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Wildlife for habitat improvements and bank stabilization for the stretch of river between 9th Street and the Highway 160 bridge. The project, which is planned for August, is meant to improve fish habitat while restoring riparian areas along the western river bank. With the high flows and increased use of the area in recent years, a number of native cottonwoods and shrubs along the banks have disappeared, leading to further erosion and habitat damage…

“Trout Unlimited along with Animas Riverkeepers was instrumental in securing the grant and getting the City of Durango on board with the project. The area to be worked on, which runs adjacent to Roosa Avenue, is city owned, making city cooperation crucial. The west side of the river, versus the east side adjacent to the River Trail and Doubletree, is being pinpointed because that is where the river takes a natural lefthand turn, scouring the west bank especially hard as a result…

“The project culminates three years of behind the scenes work by TU and Animas Riverkeepers. In addition to funding architectural and design plans, the groups conducted a study that examined and prioritized areas of degradation. Of the nine spots identified, Churchwell said Ninth Street was given the highest priority, with the Animas-La Plata intake area coming in second. ‘Ninth Street is the most visible, being right downtown,’ he said. He also said it was chosen because of its ease of access and room for improvement as far as the fishery goes. ‘As a fisherman, I spend 100-plus days a year on the Animas, and this is not the best place to fish. It’s lacking good trout habitat,’ he said. ‘But, for a lot of tourists, where they fish is the first place where they see the river. We want to show them what an amazing fishing experience the Animas can be.’ In addition to these improvements, Churchwell said plans also call for in-stream ‘j hooks’ to divert flow into the main river channel and established paths down to the river. ‘Part of the reason shrubbery won’t grow is because there is so much unregulated foot traffic down to the river,’ he said. ‘The work will include steps down to the river to encourage people to use them and not trample the vegetation.'”

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