Top sites of concern to be remediated to reduce sedimentation; proper rec use also encouraged
A grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board supporting the Envision Recreation in Balance program is mapping where growing recreation in Chaffee County could be affecting the environment.
The project focuses on water resources by identifying trouble spots and fixing them, especially at popular campsites along the Arkansas River. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is contributing in-kind work.
Rapid growth in river-related recreation is starting to damage natural resources, especially along County Road 371 near Buena Vista and Highway 50 east of Salida, where people are driving and camping near the river, AHRA Park Manager Rob White said.
You have to protect the resource and maintain the unique qualities that brought people here from day one. If you don’t, the AHRA will lose the natural resource base that makes it so special.”AHRA Park Manager Rob White
Vehicles driven very close to the river beat down the vegetation so much that only bare soil remains along many portions of the banks, making it easy for rain to carry soil into the river. “These areas need to be assessed and managed to protect the community’s boating experiences, the tourism economy and watershed health,” White said.
Sediment entering the river interferes with the ability of insects to multiply, which impacts the Arkansas River Gold Medal fishery by eliminating food for fish.
Top sites of concern will be remediated by planting new trees and shrubs, seeding along denuded banks, and using signs and natural barriers to encourage proper recreation use.
The project will not close popular areas but improve them and discourage future bank erosion by placing barriers so people will camp, drive, park and access the river in appropriate places.