At a Glance
Stability, habitat, ecological function, and resilience are restored to a treasured natural resource in a flood-damaged, mountain community.
In September 2013, three days of heavy rain caused catastrophic flooding along the Colorado Front Range. One impacted community was Big Elk Meadows, which suffered the destruction of five in-line lakes that served as important natural and recreational resources--and the community’s water supply. The flood flows destroyed the lake dams and scoured out the lake beds and shorelines.
Fortunately, the Big Elk Meadows Association received a Community Development Block Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to implement the restoration of flood-damaged riparian and wetland areas along the lakes. The project included assessment and design of grading and planting activities to improve riparian and wetland areas and enhance the lakes’ aquatic habitat and water quality. As part of the grading design, Biohabitats used surface models from drone surveys taken before and after the work to ensure that the lakes provided the storage decreed by the communities’ water rights.
Since part of the project was located in Boulder County, Biohabitats also helped obtain a county Limited Impact Special Use and Stream Restoration Permit, which included a “no-rise” certification that the restoration would not increase flood height. In addition, Biohabitats provided construction oversight of grading activities and created a planting plan for the re-graded lake edges. The planting plan will help the community to order plant material and oversee planting work implemented by local volunteers.