September 19, 2008
Less than two months after volunteers exhausted themselves in a full weekend of planting willows and rose bushes, and less than six months after ERC strategically placed over 650 tons of rock, Buffalo Peaks Ranch is showing some early signs of success.
Sinjin Eberle, project director for the BPR restoration, visited the property on September 18. At 43 cfs, the water looked great – even at this relatively low flow, there was plenty of deeper water for trout, a key design goal in the work performed by ERC. Sinjin reports seeing plenty of 8″-10″ browns and rainbows, plus some heart-racing lunkers in the deep pools.
The willow stakes and bushes are developing exceptionally well. The rose bushes are already going dormant, so we won’t really know if the roots took hold until next spring. The four footbridges look almost brand new! A trail is developing in upper section, which means the ranch is attracting more foot traffic. One of the DOW’s measures of success is the number of “angler fishing days,” so the increased foot traffic is a very encouraging sign.
Some of the increased foot traffic is, no doubt, due to the coverage BPR received in the Denver Post. Links to the Charlie Meyers’ article and blog entry are shown below.
July 28, 2008
“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
- Sam Ewing
Honestly, it was a grueling weekend. I was about to explain in detail just how grueling, but I’m still too tired! Briefly, we got 200 plants in the ground, installed four footbridges and removed a bunch of barbed wire fencing. Thankfully, we had many people of character, the kind that turned up their sleeves! Sinjin and I would like to mention each of them by name:
- Todd Street and Sarah Stinchcomb from ERC, thanks for the expertise! Special mention for Sarah, who battled on even after suffering a fence-inflicted wound to her side.
- Charlie Meyers from the Denver Post, thanks for taking the time to visit and chat; coverage for projects like BPR will make it easier for future stream restoration projects.
- Ed Eberle, thanks for the labor and materials to build the footbridges. Some of us wish they weren’t so darn heavy, but we know they will last a long time. Thanks also for “donating” your raft – it was great while it lasted.
- Bob Schmidt, Ken Neubecker and Kendall Henry. Thanks for working both Saturday and Sunday!
- Last but not least, the other volunteers, in no particular order: Michael Harrington, Bill Honeyfield, Ralph Rhodes, Wes Carey, Bob Gray, Lee Schilling, Jan Dvorak, Neil Dvorak, Don Logelin, Tom Thomas, Fred Rasmussen, Judy Henning, Mike Wehmeyer, Robin Jones, Bill McLaughlin, John Meyer, Kelvin Melton, Gary Rodgers, Phil Beranato, Mike Hobbs, John Aaron, Sam Humpert and Andy Idema. Our sincere apologies if we left someone out – that’s why we had the sign-up sheet!
Thanks also to Mark at CUSP (Coalition for the Upper South Platte) for lending us the shovels. And of course, major kudos to Sinjin Eberle for leading this project! In case you missed it because of the sweat dripping in your eyes, this is an outstanding stretch of river that the public is already enjoying in increasing numbers. Just imagine the trophy fish that will be there in the coming years!
July 24, 2008
That would be a flat out lie, of course, but the only other idea I had for a headline was “Nude Sienna Miller Pics.” That would be a flat out lie too, but it seemed worse.
Now that I’ve got your attention, I just wanted to remind you that this is volunteer weekend at BPR. Sounds like we’ll have 20+ people on Saturday, which is awesome, but we can always use more. And just because a 20 pound rainbow trout at BPR hasn’t actually been seen doesn’t mean it’s not in the river. Come on out and see for yourself!
If you’re interested in volunteering, for Saturday or Sunday or both, send an email to Sinjin Eberle. I’ll be there both days and I look forward to meeting you!
July 17, 2008
You could lay on the couch, drink beer, snack on chips and watch baseball games. Or you could get out to the scenic Buffalo Peaks Ranch site, invigorate yourself by planting shrubs and building temporary foot bridges in the fresh summer air, and fly fish a newly restored section of the South Platte River.
The weekend of July 26 and 27 is the much anticipated volunteer extravaganza and you should be there! Yes, there will be some manual labor, but it’s the kind of labor that is reserved for volunteers – plenty of breaks and camaraderie, interlaced with food and drink, followed by some outstanding fishing.
Work begins at 9a both days. Lunches, snacks and drinks will be provided. Port-o-let on site. We’ll provide the tools. You should bring work gloves, hat, long sleeve shirt, sunscreen and your fishing gear. If you would like to volunteer for both days, you might want to stay in one of the local hotels below:
- Western Inn, www.thewesterninn.com, 877-306-3037, rooms are $69-$79
- Hand Hotel, www.handhotel.com, 719-836-3595, rooms are $59-$95
- Riverside Inn, www.bestwesternfairplay.com, 719-836-0600, rooms are $119
- Fairplay Hotel, www.fairplayhotel.us, 877-836-2501, rates unknown
Directions to BPR are in the navigation bar above. If you would like to volunteer for one or both days, please contact Sinjin Eberle asap. Thanks!
June 3, 2008
As if you didn’t already have plenty to do this summer, we’d like to add another activity to your calendar. The Volunteer Weekend Camping Extravaganza will be July 26 and 27. I know, we’ve set dates for this no less than three times before, but this time we’re sure. Absolutely. Positively.
Unless something comes up. Like the water level. Or bad weather. Or some other unpredictable act of Mother Nature!
Volunteers can expect the work to be mildly strenuous. We’ll be planting willows, creating seeding and netting areas, and removing old fences. Plan on bringing a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, work gloves and perhaps a change of clothes. More details as we get closer.
We’re going to have some fun too! Mainly, we’ll reserve some time for fishing, but we’d also like to know if people are interested in staying over on Saturday night – camping at BPR or lodging in Fairplay. This would allow us to incorporate a volunteer dinner. Of course, volunteers should feel free to give whatever time they can spare on either day.
If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Sinjin or me through this website. Thanks.
May 22, 2008
Even as our good friends at Ecological Resource Consulting drove the last of the heavy machinery out of the river, the water levels were rising due to melting snow. The flow was below 50cfs for most of the construction phase. In the 10 days since then, the flow has more than tripled.
Interested in monitoring flows yourself? Use this link from the Colorado Division of Water Resources. I haven’t visited the ranch when the flows are this high – 172cfs today – but would guess that it is more or less unfishable above 100cfs.
While the in-stream work is done, there is still plenty of work remaining on the banks. Planting crews have been on-site since Monday. They started by harvesting several of the willows in the area. This is a process where stalks are cut from an existing plant and soaked in water until the roots are regenerating. The stalk is then re-planted on a stream bank to help strengthen it.
In addition, crews are seeding, laying fabric and installing new fencing. A truck load of potted, five gallon shrubs was delivered. All of the shrubs should be planted by early next week. Work is progressing well!
May 12, 2008
In spite of a two week delay in getting started due to snow conditions, Ecological Resource Consultants (ERC) completed the heavy construction work a few weeks ahead of schedule!
Over 650 tons of boulders and riprap were delivered to the stream and strategically placed to create prime habitat for trout and prevent erosion of the banks. This first photo shows the trackhoe placing large boulders to create slack water in one of the bend pools. The pools are very deep to allow fish to survive the low flows typical of winter at the ranch.
This second photo shows a stretch of bank reinforcement near the downstream end of the BPR property. Erosion was a big issue the river was cutting into the hillside and causing severe erosion problems. Sections of the hillside were literally sliding down into the river. ERC reinforced the bank and placed medium-sized boulders in a long line to gently redirect the river’s current away from the bank.
The construction work was just completed and the weather wasn’t very good, but I grabbed my 5-weight and drove out to the ranch on May 10th. The new structure looked fantastic and I was sure there were several large trout in each hole. But after several hours without so much as a strike (I refuse to count the one that tried to eat my indicator), I had to conclude that it was just too soon for the fish to have come back.
It was disappointing, but it won’t be for long. Any fisherman with eyes can spend five minutes on BPR and see that it has the structure to be an outstanding fishery. The guys at ERC – Troy and Dave in particular – are to be commended. Stay tuned for a posting regarding volunteer days, most likely in July!