From the Estes Park Trail Gazette (David Persons):
The job of creating a master plan for the recovery and future flood mitigation of the heavily-damaged Fish Creek corridor wasn’t going to be easy.
And, it hasn’t been. It’s been hard work by a lot of well-meaning professionals and concerned individuals.
But, as it almost always is with any significant flood mitigation plan, some parts are going to rub some people the wrong way.
Count many of those living at or near Scott Ponds in the Carriage Hills subdivision on the upper reaches of Fish Creek as suitably rubbed.
When they found out that the current draft of the Fish Creek Resiliency (Master) Plan included a recommendation to remove the two dams (and related ponds) south of Scott Avenue and restore the area to historic beaver ponds, they quickly spoke out.
“I chose this (home) because of the location,” said Joe Holtzman, 1130 Scott Avenue. His home overlooks the northernmost of the Scott Ponds, the one whose dam failed and contributed greatly to a surge during the September 2013 flood.
“I’m a 50-year flyfisherman. I love it here. I have had over 250 elk go through by backyard. I’ve had numerous deer and a plethora of birds. I have seen osprey plucking fish out of those ponds. I’ve even seen bald eagles here.”
Now, he fears, he may lose all that if the Scott Ponds are removed.
Holtzman said he wasn’t aware of the recommendation to remove the ponds – one of five high priority projects recommended – until November when there was an open house presented by a representative of Walsh Environmental, the firm that has been tasked to oversee and complete the Fish Creek Master Plan.
Once completed, the Fish Creek Resiliency Plan will provide recommendations for numerous projects that may be undertaken when funding is available. If funding becomes available, for each project there will be another opportunity for public participation during the design process, town officials say.
They also point out that the master plan is just a draft and not complete yet.
“The Fish Creek master plan is still being reviewed, and even the final document will be just a recommendation from a resiliency standpoint,” said Estes Park Public Information Officer Kate Rusch. “There will be more public involvement before anything happens at Scott Ponds.”[…]
Although town officials are on record saying they would like to repair the dam as part of flood restoration work, they won’t be allowed to restore it to its former state. The state now requires that repairs and designs of dam replacements must meet current state regulations. And, that means a lot more money.
Holtzman believes that a better idea would be to reduce the size and depth of the ponds which would require a smaller dam.
He and his neighbors will get a chance to voice that opinion on Jan. 26, when the town holds a public meeting to discuss the Fish Creek Resiliency (Master) Plan. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Estes Park Event Center, 1125 Rooftop Way, at the Fairgrounds at Stanley Park…
Shafer did praise the formation of the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition, which was formed from residents in the Fall River and Fish Creek areas. The coalition, which has two voting members from the Fall River area, two from the Fish Creek area, two from the Black Canyon area, and two from the Big Thompson River area, and three at-large members will seek grants and other funding once the Fish Creek Resiliency (Master) Plan has been adopted.
Shafer said the coalition, working as a non-profit under the umbrella of the Estes Valley Land Trust, should be able to secure the needed funding to implement the plan.
Among the many funding sources available for the coalition are the Colorado Water Conservation Board; Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund; Colorado Watershed Restoration Grant; Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA); Colorado Drought and Flood Response Fund; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Colorado Watershed Assembly; Basin Roundtables; and the El Pomar Foundation.
For more information on the draft plan, visit online at http://www.fishcreekcoalition.com/master-plan.