Colorado Parks & Wildlife: Habitat improvements continue in Arkansas River

Arkansas River  levee through Pueblo
Arkansas River levee through Pueblo

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will continue work in the Arkansas River this month as part of an ongoing habitat improvement project. Anglers may notice heavy equipment and other signs of work, such as cloudy water, in the area.

“The project may create some short-term inconveniences for anglers, but the result will be better fishing for years to come,” Doug Krieger, a senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

The project is set to begin the week of Jan. 13, and will continue through mid February. The latest improvements will be made between Juniper Bridge and Valco Bridge. Work will occur Monday through Thursday.

Heavy equipment operators will place large boulders and trees along the 1.5 mile stretch, creating deeper pools and an improved river channel design that will hold more trout and other fish species.

“We are creating better habitat for fish to find shelter, feed, reproduce and thrive,” Krieger said. “We will also provide more fish holding structure that anglers seek for good fishing success.”

Anglers are still able to fish in this reach of the river but are reminded to avoid areas around construction and keep away from heavy equipment.

This habitat improvement project work is Phase II of a project that originally began in 2004. Since completion of Phase I in 2005, the Arkansas River through Pueblo has gained a reputation as a premier trout fishing location.

A portion of the Phase II project will consist of making improvements to existing structures, while the remaining construction will provide for the installation of new structures.

From November until the middle of March, outflows from Pueblo Reservoir are fairly stable creating opportunities for anglers to enjoy stream fishing in clear and cool water during times of the year when most streams are locked in winter conditions.

Partners in the project include the City of Pueblo, Xcel Energy, Trout Unlimited, and the Packard Foundation, with matching funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The state is preparing to rock the Arkansas River again. Think fish, not electric guitars. Heavy equipment will be in the river in the 1.5-mile reach between the Juniper bridge and Valco bridge to install more boulders and trees in the river below Pueblo Dam. The project is a continuation of an effort that has improved fish habitat along the river.

“The project may create some short-term inconveniences for anglers, but the result will be better fishing for years to come,” said Doug Krieger, a senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Water might be cloudy during construction, and there still will be a few trucks on area roads as part of Southern Delivery System construction — about half the number that were rumbling last fall.

The project will begin Monday and continue until mid-February, in order to take advantage of low river levels. The work will create deeper pools and an improved river channel that will hold more trout and other species, Krieger said.

“We are creating better habitat for fish to find shelter, feed, reproduce and thrive,” Krieger said. “We will also provide more fish holding structure that anglers seek for good fishing success.”

Partners in the project include the city of Pueblo, Xcel Energy, Trout Unlimited and the Packard Foundation, with matching funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Meanwhile, there will continue to be some truck traffic in the area from the excavation site of the Juniper Pump Station, part of SDS. In December, trucks finished hauling dirt from the Juniper site, located near the base of the dam, to an old gravel pit on the north side of the river. Now, they are hauling rocks away from the construction site. There are fewer trucks on the road now, said Janet Rummel, Colorado Springs Utilities spokeswoman for SDS.

“Not all of the rock is being hauled away,” Rummel said. “A good portion of the boulders will be used at the pump station site for landscaping features, and SDS contractors are collaborating with Lake Pueblo State Park staff to have some of the decorative boulder-sized rocks used for other park improvements.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Leave a Reply