At a Glance
An ecology-based approach to restoration and conservation planning is helping to maximize the potential for regeneration along the Cache La Poudre, a centerpiece for the City of Fort Collins.
The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department manages over 1,000 acres of open space along the Cache La Poudre River, including numerous former gravel pits with significant water resources and habitat values. For several years, the City had been performing small planting projects to enhance natural resource values and the visitor experience. In 2008 and again in 2014, Biohabitats was retained to provide on-call professional consulting and construction services to assist with the assessment, planning, design, permitting, and construction of wetland and riparian restoration projects. Overall project objectives vary and include protecting the City’s natural resources, improving water quality, enhancing aquatic and riparian habitat, and restoring wetland and floodplain functions.
Biohabitats performed vegetation assessments, hydrologic evaluations, and geomorphic assessments to support a Conservation Action Planning approach to identify conservation priorities and restoration strategies. Biohabitats prioritized potential restoration projects based on locations where a water source is most predictable and/or controllable; maintaining and expanding previous restoration areas to protect gains; and selecting high visibility locations with partnering or educational opportunities.
To date we have designed, permitted, and constructed three projects within two of the natural areas along the Poudre River. These projects have included the removal of flood-control levees to restore floodplain connection, placement of fill material in abandoned gravel pits to create wetland benches, and removal of an old water diversion dam in the river to provide fish passage. These projects created 10 acres of willow shrubland, wet meadow, and emergent wetland; restored 13 acres of riparian forest including native cottonwood regeneration; and improved 1 mile of the Poudre River.