From The New York Times (Chris Santella):
To create a habitat that would support trout in the valley reaches of the Rio Blanco, it was necessary to slow the river enough to stem erosion and create deeper pockets of water to provide shelter for the fish. Before he could begin to create a blueprint to engineer the necessary changes, Rosgen needed to find a river in the region that would provide a natural model.
“I looked for a system that had a similar flow regime and hence was naturally stable,” he said. Once such a model was found — the East Fork of the San Juan in an adjoining valley — Rosgen set to work, hauling in boulders and parts of old trees to rejuvenate the Blanco’s banks and direct its waters toward a more defined channel.
“My goal was to develop a naturally meandering stream that has a close connection to the surrounding riparian environs,” Rosgen said. “In the past, methods included using junked cars and concrete to shore up stream banks. That doesn’t exactly give the river a natural feel.”
One of the main challenges Rosgen faced on the Rio Blanco was filtering out the massive amounts of sediment that is carried down from the mountains during spring runoff. If the sediment was not diverted, the stream bed would be clogged and water would flow outside of the primary channel. Rosgen and his team constructed a tube to divert cobble, gravel and sand away from the river channel; water flows through, and sediment is routed to a holding area that can be periodically emptied. The excess gravel — which during my visit rivaled the sand piles along highways during the snow season — is used to supplement the roads and trails around the ranch.
Because of Rosgen’s efforts, there are three miles of the Rio Blanco that may be fished by guests of El Rancho Pinoso, which is owned by Robert Lindner Sr., the founder of United Dairy Farms. The price tag for the renovation was about $1 million.
Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.
More Rio Blanco River watershed coverage here.