Gore Creek Water Quality Improvement
Gore Creek, a headwaters tributary of the Eagle River which flows into the Colorado River (and serves millions below), is at risk. In 2012, Gore Creek was listed on the State of Colorado’s 303(d) List of Impaired Waters – due to low macroinvertebrate (bug) scores. In response, the Town of Vail created the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan to identify top priority restoration areas. Among the identified projects is nearly 800 feet of riparian habitat located in the back lawn of the Sundial Townhomes in East Vail.
This area is one of the largest concentrations of turf grass on private property along the creek. A berm surrounds a centralized wetland and on the south side is a sloping area of grass directly abutting the creek. The natural floodplain has been cut off and the turf grass is on the edge of the water with very little native riparian vegetation. The result is decreased stormwater infiltration, sediment loading, and pollution, as well as stream bank erosion. Restoration of this area will decrease pollution and help return the creek to a more natural hydrologic state.
The main activities of the Sundial project are to:
- Regrade the slope of the lawn to reconnect the floodplain, restoring the system’s natural hydrology and reducing erosion.
- Remove a large area of turf grass, replacing it with native riparian vegetation and creating a filtration buffer zone for stormwater runoff. Willows and other larger vegetation would allow for more stormwater filtration as well as create wildlife habitat. As an added benefit the native vegetation would help to lower stream temperatures – an increasing issue in current low flow trends and climbing climate temperatures.
- Retain or improve the wetland area habitat, while restoring its natural hydrology.
- Improve property values.
Vail’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities draw tourists and is a large contributing factor to the area’s population growth. Because of growing pressure on natural systems it is imperative that riparian restoration and establishment of best management practices begin immediately.
* Project utilizes best management practices to filter and/or reduce pollution inputs into rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands or near-shore marine areas