Extraction complete at Swan River Restoration Project, site moves to restoration phase
*Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information about the waterways involved in the Swan River Restoration Project.
The Swan River Restoration Project is closing out on its extraction phase and moving into the restoration phase, which is expected to be completed next year. Some neighbors of the project site will be glad to hear that the mining piece of the project is done.
Jason Lederer of Summit County Open Space & Trails explained that gravel crushing activities have been completed by the county’s gravel removal contractor, Schofield Excavation, and all that’s left to do in the way of gravel is to finish removing it. This will involve hauling the stockpiles from the site with loading trucks, so there will still be some heavy machinery operating around the site until the gravel is fully removed.
“That big effort is wrapped up for the most part except for that residual material out there,” Lederer said.
The gravel material that has been mined has gone toward local highway and construction projects. Levi Schofield, president of Schofield Excavation, said the project has provided material for roads in Silverthorne’s Smith Ranch neighborhood, the Ski Hill Road project in Breckenridge, both phases of the CDOT road project that went from Dillon to Breckenridge, and numerous houses and smaller subdivisions.
Now, Lederer said the design team is planning the restoration to be completed during the next building season. The project includes two reaches and is meant to restore the Swan River main stem from past dredge mining operations and reconnect the three main tributaries of the Upper Swan River Valley. It will eventually restore 12,200 lineal feet of the stream channel.
The site will remain closed to the public as the stream channel is reconstructed, similar to what happened during the restoration of Reach A. Reach A was open to the public this year for fishing, hiking, mountain biking and other uses. Lederer said a floodplain and wetland sites will be built during this restoration phase of Reach B. A fair amount of planting will also be done, bringing in vegetation like willows and shrubs.
Lederer said he doesn’t anticipate the restoration work to be too disruptive to the public, aside from potential temporary road closures on Rock Island Road as a temporary construction bridge, repurposed from the Fremont Pass Recreational Pathway project, is being put in.
Residents near the project may have noticed some murkiness in the stream in recent years. Lederer said this will likely continue during restoration, but isn’t cause for alarm.
“Because we actually had to dig down and find that stream, and then we’re eventually going to connect to the downstream reach, there will be turbidity in the water next year. It’s really just a discoloration visual,” Lederer said. “The water quality is excellent down there. We’ve been monitoring it for years. We monitored it during construction last time and there’s no indication that there’s any impact on water quality or aquatic habitat.”
Both Schofield and Lederer acknowledged that the project has impacted surrounding residents and thanked people for being patient with nuisances like truck traffic. Lederer said that while the project has been a long haul, it’s hopefully at its tail end and people will soon be able to enjoy the restored piece of open space.
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