Blue River restoration project to begin today |

Blue River restoration project to begin today

SILVERTHORNE – Fishing might not be its best in the Lower Blue River in Silverthorne next week as work begins Monday on the Blue River Restoration Project.

Work, which is scheduled to last about six weeks, will include narrowing the streambed and building pools, eddies and riffles to improve trout habitat in the Gold Medal waters. The work will also result in muddy waters downstream, which often detracts from the fishing experience.

The project will create eight riffle and pool sequences that mimic natural stream conditions and provide a greater variety of habitat below the dam. The riffle and pool sections will be linked by glide sections with habitat structures to encourage trout spawning. Other work will include reinforcing banks, planting vegetation to reduce erosion and reconfigure the channel to accommodate the lower flows Denver Water anticipates it will release from the dam above.

According to Troy Thompson of Ecological Resource Consultants, this is the best time to do the work because rainbow trout have finished spawning, and brown trout will begin in the fall. It’s also a time of the year when weather is more predictable, and flow releases from Dillon Reservoir are typically low.

The project is a multijurisdictional effort among the town of Silverthorne, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Ecological Resource Consultants, Summit and Grand counties, the Bureau of Land Management, Denver Water, Gore Range Trout Unlimited and the state Division of Wildlife.

The project is designed to maintain and enhance the Gold Medal fishing status of the Blue River. The Blue River is one of 12 Gold Medal streams in the state – meaning the fish are big and there are a lot of them, said Andy Gentry, president for the local Trout Unlimited chapter.

In past years, high water flows in the river provided natural habitat for the large trout that live there. But more recently, low flows released from the reservoir have resulted in a shapeless, shallow river that’s not conducive to trout habitat.

The town completed a similar project in 2000. It ran from Denny’s restaurant to 6th Street and has resulted in a more “fish-friendly” stretch of river.

Funds raised will be used to match a $94,750 National Forest Foundation grant – the largest and one of only eight the organization doled out this year. The Blue River Restoration Partnership has raised $80,878 toward a matching National Forest Foundation grant of $94,750.

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