Riparian Restoration and Streambank Stabilization Program
In 2004, through partnerships with the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), the RGHRP was able to complete a cost-share riparian stabilization project with funding from the Colorado Non-Point Source Program (CO NPS). The 2004 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project – Phase 2, involved eighteen private landowners on approximately 8,300 feet of streambank on the Rio Grande in Rio Grande County, Colorado. Matching funds came from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW), Colorado Habitat Improvement Program (CHIP), and the landowners. The RGHRP is working with the Colorado Measurable Results Program (MRP), which is funded through CO NPS and Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), to transition to long-term monitoring of Phase 2.
From Left to Right: Willow transplants, rock barbs, and a rock weir structure.
Phase 4: 2009 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project
In 2012, the RGHRP received grants from Xcel Energy and the Colorado State Forest Service to complete riparian revegetation and noxious weed removal on Phase 3 riparian areas in Alamosa County. In October 2012, a group of 51 volunteers from the Alamosa Boy Scouts planted 50 willow bundles on a river site owned by the City of Alamosa. Additionally, a crew of 9 young adults from the Southwest Conservation Corps was hired to apply compost and reseed areas with low vegetation cover and plant willows on streambanks. The crew spread 38 tons of compost, reseeded 7 acres of riparian areas, and planted 291 willow bundles. These efforts will improve the condition of habitat and vegetation cover on areas where riparian restoration was completed, however, the rate of revegetation has been slow. Noxious weed removal took place in 2013. Matching funds for this Project came from the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District and in-kind contributions came from local, state, and federal partners. The Project is an asset to the local community as it engaged member participation, employed young adults, supported businesses, and improved the condition of the streambanks, riparian vegetation, and wildlife habitat.
2015 Rio Grande Riparian Improvement Project
This riparian improvement project was funded through grants from Xcel Energy, New Belgium Brewing Company, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District. Funding was used to hire a crew of 8 young adults from the Southwest Conservation Corps to complete revegetation efforts on riparian areas just north of Alamosa. In June 2014, the crew made and planted over 1,000 willow bundles on the project site. These willows will sprout roots and grow into bushes along the edge of the water, resulting in increased shade, stabilized streambanks, and improved quality of riparian habitat.
In 2010, the RGHRP was awarded funds from the NRCS Colorado Partnership Program (CPP) to treat five sites totaling 4,500 feet of streambank in Rio Grande County.
The Monitoring Program
Phase 4 completed streambank stabilization and riparian restoration on 7 sites in Alamosa County. Contractors completed construction on the final site in Fall 2014. This project improved the function of the Rio Grande by reducing sediment loading through the restoration and stabilization of 2.3 miles of riverbank, the installation of rock barbs and root wads, and the planting of willow clumps. These efforts will result in improved water quality, reduced erosion, increased sediment transport capacity, higher quality of riparian areas and habitat, and proper functioning floodplains.
In 2009, the RGHRP received a Colorado Non-Point Source Grant to fund the 2009 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project (Phase 4) in Alamosa County. In 2010, the RGHRP was awarded funds from the CO WSRA to serve as non-federal match.
In 2010, the RGHRP was awarded funds from the 2010 Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund to enhance riparian revegetation on riparian restoration and streambank stabilization project sites. A portion of these funds was used to organize two volunteer efforts on three sites in Alamosa and Rio Grande Counties. A large revegetation event was organized with a crew from the Southwest Conservation Corps. This project utilized 80 volunteer hours and 640 SCC crew hours. In total, 1,900 feet of streambanks were revegetated with bare-root shrubs, trees, and willow bundles. Tree revetments were also installed.
2010 Colorado Partnership Program
Before, during, and after the 2009 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project.
For the 2015 riparian improvement project, we partnered with the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust to plant willow bundles and regrade streambank on the 4UR and Rio Oxbow Ranches in the headwaters. Some grant funding was obtained from Xcel Energy, and volunteers from the Southwest Conservation Corps were kind enough to help out with the labor.
Rio Grande Revegetation Project: Cooperative with Southwest Conservation Corps
2013 Rio Grande Riparian Improvement Project
Alamosa County Riparian Revegetation Project
We partner with several other groups to further encourage participation and breadth of projects. In the past, partners have included the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) and the Southern Conservation Corps (SCC). An example project took place on the 4UR Ranch, near Creede, CO in October 2015, with the RGHRP partnering with RiGHT to bring an SCC crew to implement streambank stabilization through willow plantings.
Over 11 miles of stabilized streambanks
Over sixty landowners
$4.8 million in grant funding
Phase 2: 2004 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project
Phase 3: 2008 Rio Grande Riparian Stabilization Project
2009 Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative Project
In 2009, the RGHRP received a grant from the NRCS sponsored by the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) program, which required non-federal funds match. After consideration, it was determined that a portion of the 2009 CO WSRA grant from Phase 3 of the 2008 Rio Grande Stabilization Project could be made available as match to the CO NPS and CCPI grant. The 2009 CCPI Project was completed in Rio Grande County and twelve sites on 10,000 feet of the river were treated.
In 2008, the RGHRP received a CO NPS grant to complete work on five sites, which added up to approximately 9,000 feet of streambank in Alamosa County. In 2009, the RGHRP also received funding from Colorado Water Supply Reserve Account (CO WSRA). Work on all five sites is now complete and monitoring is underway.