From The Sterling Journal-Advocate via The Fort Morgan Times:
Ducks Unlimited completed a three-year project on the Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area in December, and officials are waiting to see whether the new concept works in the coming year.
Jason Roudebush, a water resource specialist with DU, briefed members of the South Platte Basin Roundtable on the project during the roundtable’s April meeting in Longmont on Tuesday.
Roudebush said DU installed a water-control structure on a marsh below the reservoir’s dam in 2016.
Last summer DU installed a series of terraces near the inlet to the reservoir. The terraces will allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers to control water levels and create more open water in the marsh, improving spring habitat conditions and hunting opportunities.
Jim Yahn, manager of the Prewitt, said after the presentation that the project doesn’t necessarily enhance the irrigation benefit of the reservoir, but it definitely improves the value as a recreation area. He said the Prewitt is now in a 25-year lease to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife as a state recreation area.
“Any enhancement that we can make to make it a better recreation area, that makes it more valuable to Prewitt water users in the future,” he said. “And if we can get those improvements at no cost (to the reservoir company) then it makes it just that much more valuable for recreation and hunting.”
Yahn said the building of terraces in the reservoir is a new concept and it will take a season of irrigating to make sure the concept works.
“They’re underwater now, so we’ll see how they hold together after we start irrigating,” he said. “It seems like it will work, but it’s still new. If it works, it could be done in other places. It might not work everywhere, but it could be incorporated into any new reservoir that’s built.”
The project is in an area of the reservoir open to public hunting. According to Roudebush, the goal of the Prewitt project is to enhance more than 450 acres of habitat, including cattail-choked marshes below the reservoir’s dam and wetlands near its shore.
On the Ducks Unlimited web site, DU regional biologist Matt Reddy said the terracing helps put water where it’s most useful to wildlife.
“If you think of the reservoir as a big bath tub, you have to fill the bottom of the tub before the water can get up to the top where the best duck habitat is,” Reddy said. “We are putting the terraces in at the top of the reservoir so we don’t have to add as much water to flood habitat where wildlife can use it.”
The project is part of DU’s Prewitt Reservoir Partnership with a goal to restore all of the waterfowl habitats in reach of the reservoir. To date, the partnership has spent more than $1 million conserving nearly 5,000 acres of habitat associated with Prewitt. Partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North American Wetlands Council, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Open Lands and the Prewitt Reservoir Company.