Thornton Big Dry Creek project update

Screen shot from the City of Thornton Big Dry Creek Recreation & Floodplain Restoration Master Plan (Click image to read the report)

From The Westminster Window (Scott Taylor):

An effort to convert a portion of the Big Dry Creek from a steep canal through Thornton’s open space into a meandering stream should wrap up this winter.

“The intent is to improve wildlife habitat and make it more of a sustainable creek during large runoff event,” said Paula Schulte, Thornton’s parks and open space project manager. “The water will be able to spread into the flood plain, versus going like a roller coaster down that chute.”

Work reshaping the creek’s path through Thornton’s open space between E-470 and 152nd Parkway and west of York Street should be completed before the year’s end, Schulte said. Landscaping and planting along the creek’s banks should wrap up in May…

The Big Dry Creek is a tributary that covers about 110 square-miles between Golden’s Coal Creek Canyon and Fort Lupton in Weld County, where it meets up with the South Platte River…

Water treatment plants in Westminster and Broomfield feed the stream, too.

“So, now there’s water in it all the time,” she said. “And when you get a storm event on top of everything, it just digs down.”


The project is costing about $1.5 million, paid for by grants from Great Outdoors Colorado and Adams County Open Space…

Over the next few months, crews from Mile High Flood District will be cutting the stream’s sides, creating tiers and steps down to the water. They shouldn’t change the path of the stream much, but some change will be inevitable.

“In order to spread the creek out, it will change things a little bit,” Schulte said. “The Army Corps of Engineers gave it a permit but that’s just because we needed to room to do it.”

Once the channel is set, crews will begin planting native plants along the area, removing plants like the Russian Olive Trees, a non-native plant that’s considered invasive.

“These are wetland, riparian trees and shrubs — and this according to the Army Corps of Engineer’s permit,” she said. “The goal is to make it all more gorgeous and healthy, with more habitat and much more plant material. Right now, it’s so steep not much can grow there.”

Both the flood district and the Army Corps of Engineers will monitor the area for five years.

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