Courtesy of the Eagle River Watershed Council
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May 11, 2009 — A Colorado Department of Transportation project that cleaned years of sediment and sand from the Black Gore Creek watershed on the west side of Vail Pass along I-70 has received three recent honors.
The first award occurred in Denver on Feb. 24 when the project received the 2009 CDOT Environmental Process Award. The second, presented in Avon on March 20, was the Max Rollefson Award of Merit from the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
The third award, also presented in Avon on March 20, included a water fountain and a plaque of appreciation from the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee, comprised of local governmental representatives, nonprofit organizations, and regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
The project, conducted in the fall of 2008 in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, cleaned out and reconstructed the catchment basin originally constructed in the 1970s when I-70 was built over Vail Pass. Project photos show that the reconstruction achieved remarkable results in returning the “Basin of Last Resort,” as the catchment basin is known, to a more original condition.
Approximately 2,400 truckloads of sediment were removed from the area. Project personnel began noting fish activity soon after water flows were restored.
The removed sediment was then used by CDOT and the Town of Vail to construct a berm to protect area neighbors from noise and light associated with an adjacent commercial vehicle chainup station.
Following are comments about the Black Gore Creek project :
● “CDOT needs to be commended for funding and building this project when there are many competing priorities and needs for their construction and maintenance dollars. This was the first time CDOT has funded a sediment cleanup project beyond the immediate area of the highway.” - Brian Healy, East Zone Fisheries Biologist, White River National Forest
● “There are many people who contributed to the success of the project, from the Colorado Transportation Commission approving the funds to the project engineers tackling the unique construction challenges. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of local government in Vail and Eagle County, the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee, the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.” - Martha Miller, CDOT Resident Engineer at Eagle, Region 3
● “This was a solution that was more than any one group of stakeholders could have accomplished alone.” - Peter Kozinski, CDOT I-70 Mountain Corridor Management Team.
● “This was really extraordinary of CDOT, and so important for our rivers.” - Jon Stavney, Eagle County Commissioner
● “This was an outstanding effort on the part of CDOT. We are grateful for the perseverance, creativity, hard work, and dedication of the CDOT team in making this project a success.” - Dick Cleveland, Mayor of Vail.
Cleveland acknowledged the importance of roadway sanding to help keep motorists safe in the winter, and he cited the Black Gore Creek Project as a “way to balance that need with environmental protection.”
In the years since construction of I-70, more than 50 smaller catchment basins have been installed by CDOT in the upper Black Gore Creek watershed to trap sand and before it reaches the Basin of Last Resort.
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