This is made evident by the thousands of volunteer hours offered by our community of scientists, outdoors-lovers, artists, and visionaries who feel bone-deep ownership and care for the watershed. There was profound grief, frustration, and even anger in response to the 2019 runoff event that so significantly impacted the lower floodplain. It is in the aftermath that we ask ourselves, how could we have prepared better? How much worse could it have been?
Given how the flooding impacted the entire reach of the lower Willow Creek floodplain, Headwaters Alliance (HWA) sought a new strategy. In March 2020, HWA was awarded funding from Colorado Water Conservation Board, and many others, for the Comprehensive Willow Creek Watershed Planning Project.
The Comprehensive Willow Creek Watershed Plan has the following measurable goals intended to meet immediate needs in the watershed while also creating rich opportunities for you, our community to share insight, inspiration and vision into how these goals are met, as well as lay the foundation for future land and water use planning.
Central to the Watershed Plan is the goal of sharing key information and criteria among partners and stakeholders to ensure future projects have the benefit of current data. We hope this will facilitate integrated designs and projects, maximize resources in our rural location, support land and water use planning and enliven smart, incremental growth over time and benefit our community, economy and the pristine San Juan Mountains and Rio Grande we call home.
Willow Creek Inventory & Library
Even though A LOT of work has been completed, much remains, including addressing some potent risks — think fire, flood, human-use. The Inventory will enable easy reference to the 20-plus years of reports, data and projects, as well as updated risk identification and mitigation planning. This will ensure future projects benefit from integrated planning — simply put, the left hand will know what the right hand is doing, and the past can inform the future. Please visit the Inventory page and the Library page for more information.
Water Quality Sampling Program
Willow Creek Water & Soil Quality Databank
Willow Creek is data rich, and yet this data, collected by WCRC, HWA and others, has never been integrated into a single, usable platform. We are on track for completion by September 2021, and then will move immediately into high level analysis and modeling — something that has never been done before for Willow Creek. The Willow Creek Water & Soil Quality Databank will enable real-time online query-based searches as well as support future research and remedy for improving water quality in Willow Creek.
The North Creede reach has taken a beating since the late 1890’s. Whether from legacy mining impacts or the awesome power of water moving large cobbles downstream, this reach will benefit from improvements to channel stability and design, updating wooden flood control structures, a designated emergency plan for high water events, as well as thoughtful vegetation and recreational improvements — think trail system, hockey ponds, parking and more.
The flume is a perfect example of our mining history intersecting with modern need. Built in 1950’s by the US Corps of Engineers, the flume received much needed maintenance in 2018. Current plans include completing the resurfacing and possibly a hydroelectric system. Working with both the City and You — The-Creative-Minds-of-Creede — we will create a conceptual design for beautification, public access and safety, as well as incorporating functional infrastructure needs.
Lower Willow Creek Floodplain
Central to the Watershed Plan is the objective of sharing key information and criteria among partners and stakeholders to ensure future projects have the benefit of all known data. We are fortunate to have the support of the following partners: