Abstract: Session E  4:45 pm (Back to Session E)
From Gold Mining to Gold Medal Fishery: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Large-Scale Stream Restoration on the Upper Arkansas River

Eric Richer
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Fort Collins, CO

Authors:  Eric Richer, Will Clements, Brian Wolff, Matt Kondratieff, Greg Policky, Chris Lamson, Michael Atwood, Emily Gates, Madison Myers, and Dan Baker

Metals pollution and channel disturbance associated with historic mining, land use, and water development degraded aquatic and riparian habitat along the Upper Arkansas River near Leadville, Colorado. Following water quality remediation, habitat restoration was conducted for an eleven-mile reach characterized as an over-wide channel that lacked velocity refuge and deep pools for over-winter habitat. The primary goals of restoration were to increase trout population density and biomass including improvement in body condition and fish health. Secondary goals were to improve age and size class structure by increasing spawning areas and providing refuge for juvenile trout. To achieve these goals, the project design focused on channel narrowing to improve sediment transport, stabilizing stream banks to reduce erosion and downstream sedimentation, developing diverse stream morphology to enhance aquatic habitat, and creating overhead cover for trout. Restoration effectiveness was evaluated with a combination of biological and physical monitoring. Primary monitoring targets included instream habitat structures, riparian vegetation, fish populations, benthic macroinvertebrates, and habitat quality. This presentation will provide an overview of the long-term monitoring program, including a summary of the restoration project and results from five years of post-restoration monitoring. Monitoring results will focus on changes in fish populations, benthic macroinvertebrates, and riparian vegetation. Results from this study will be used to inform adaptive management, as well as the design of future restoration projects and monitoring programs.