Here are the highlights of the restoration projects our collaborating partners have completed over the years!
FIVE MINES PROJECT
In 2003, four abandoned mine sites and one mill site were selected for clean-up activities, and these five sites were remediated in an ongoing project from 2003-2006. These sites were selected because they were potential sources of non-point loading of metals, acid, and sediments to Willow Creek and/or its tributaries. The WCRC established voluntary cooperation with the owners and agencies involved with these sites. Reclamation was straightforward, and should result in measurable improvement to water quality.
Willow Creek’s aquatic and riparian habitat were improved and restored through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs), reducing pollutant loading from the five sites. The BMPs utilized at the various mine sites included: run-on/run-off controls, soil amendment and revegetation, waste material consolidation and regrading, stream diversion, waste material cementation, and waste material capping.
The different BMPs continue to be monitored for effectiveness and stability, and provide guidance through successful demonstration for future project planning. Read more about the five sites we targeted and the details of the project here.
LOWER WILLOW CREEK RESTORATION PROJECT
The Lower Willow Creek Restoration Project began as a collaborative project between the City of Creede, the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, and Creede Resources Inc. to reclaim the lower Willow Creek floodplain from historic mining activities. It was at this point that two entities formed the Lower Willow Creek Restoration Company (LWCRCo) to jointly oversee the activities of the project and manage and administer the funding for the project. Willow Creek Restoration Committee, in turn, helped to provide the volunteers. In 2011, the LWCRCo entered into a Voluntary Cleanup Plan (VCUP) with the State of Colorado to provide regulatory oversight during cleanup/reclamation activities. In 2012, the LWCRCo completed Phase 1 of the project to construct a new creek channel that would reduce interaction with contaminated soils, improve sediment transport, improve energy dissipation, and improve aquatic, riparian and terrestrial habitat. Read more about the next two phases and our ongoing progress here.
WINDY GULCH CLEANUP
Windy Gulch enters Willow Creek just upstream of the town of Creede. A flood control study funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board found that a metal culvert in Windy Gulch, just upstream of Willow Creek, was undersized and could not convey a 10-year flood. Flooding at the culvert would cause waters to flow into historic downtown Creede and potentially cut off emergency access to the local fire station. A problem was also found in a levee near Windy Gulch. This levee directs Willow Creek into a flume that conveys the water through downtown Creede. The levee did not have the required freeboard allowance to remove downtown from FEMA floodplain maps. From October 2005-November 2006, we worked to remediated these identified issues. The total project cost was $62,730. Read more about that project here.