From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jane Kyle):
A report released by the city of Fort Collins could help define the Poudre River’s ecological future.
The Poudre River Ecological Response Model (ERM), which was created to understand possible future scenarios for the river, covers a 13-mile stretch of river through Fort Collins, from Overland Trail to Interstate 25.
A panel of river ecology experts will present the project to the public Thursday. Natural Areas Department Director John Stokes said the report identifies some challenges the urban river faces, as well as possible solutions.
“I think as a community we need to have a discussion about how much change is acceptable and what we can do to help this river feel like a river,” he said. “That’s going to be challenging because there are a lot of demands on the Poudre River.”
Stokes said the Poudre River in Fort Collins is “very much entrenched,” which has limited the river’s ability to function naturally.
“We’ve put the river in its place and it stays there,” he said. “If we can let the river move around or do some over-bank flooding where it’s safe, that gets back some of the ecological function we’ve lost over the last 100 years.”
The ERM offers 27 responses for four indicators of the river’s condition: physical setting, aquatic life, fish and riparian habitats. The report was a collaborative effort featuring nine team members from Colorado State University, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Geological Survey and city of Fort Collins.
Research began in 2011 and was finalized late last year. Stokes said the ERM will serve “as a guide post and decision support tool” for future conservation and river health efforts.
“It doesn’t tell us exactly what to do,” he said. “But it helps us understand the river.”
•Learn more about the Poudre River Ecological Response Model in a panel presentation from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday at Colorado State University’s Lory Student Center.
•See the report at http://fcgov.com/naturalareas/eco-response.php.
More Cache la Poudre River coverage here.