From The Telluride Daily Planet (Mary Slosson):
Town Council approved a restoration project Tuesday that will transform two man-made sewage lagoons on the Valley Floor into new wetlands.
The two artificial ponds, located in the open Valley Floor space adjacent to the southwest corner of the Pearl Property, are believed to have been excavated in the 1960s with the intent to use as sewage treatment lagoons. They were never used and almost immediately filled with water, officials said. As a result, they were eventually left alone to grow as wild as they could.
“We look at this as a naturalizing of what was obviously a mechanical, man-made and never used excavation, the spoils of which isolated it from the wetland ecosystem,” said Angela Dye, chair of the Open Space Commission. “This project will integrate it into the wetland system we have up there now.”
The restoration project is expected to take two to three weeks and is budgeted at $116,500. Town officials hope to complete the project this fall, when they say the construction would least impact wildlife that calls the ponds home.
In fact, that wildlife is one of the reasons that planners decided to incorporate some of the ponds’ already existing standing water into the final wetland restoration design, instead of reverting the plots back to their native state and removing the standing water altogether.
“There was a desire to keep the pond, and it wasn’t purely for aesthetic reasons,” said Town of Telluride Program Director Lance McDonald, summarizing planning discussions leading up to the restoration proposal.
“There is a lot of wildlife that use the standing water. There is not a lot of standing water on the floor,” McDonald said. “The diversity of animals is quite high here: raccoons, muskrats, fox, geese, ducks. This was an opportunity to have a place for those species on the Valley Floor even though it’s not a natural feature.”
Dye said that the restored sewer ponds would become an environmental education opportunity, with student groups able to observe the waterfowl, mammals and wildlife that flock to the area.
The restoration project will remove the land beam between the lagoons that was created during the original pond excavation to create one uniform body of water, and then use that soil to create wetland benches in the water. The project will also reintroduce native vegetation to the area using samples and seeds from the immediate wetland areas.
A total of 34,800 square feet of new wetlands will be rehabilitated, creating a seamless natural environment from the Pearl Property to the rest of the Valley Floor.
More restoration/reclamation coverage here.