Happy Fall and Winter everyone!
I wanted to post something about some GREAT work that was accomplished on the Dolores River this past Wednesday by volunteers with Greater Dolores Action (GDA). This is the small, grass roots organization that puts on the Dolores River Festival annually in June, the proceeds from which go back into projects that benefit the Dolores River.
If you have ever floated the upper D you might be familiar with the stretch we call Car Body Alley. This section runs from the State Wildlife Area diversion dam (aka Little Niagara) down about 3.5 miles. The State Wildlife Area is just past mile marker 16 on Hwy 145, below Stapleton Bridge. Back in the 1950s old car bodies were used as rip rap to stabilize the river bank, and were also placed in the river channel. Now we have major hazards along this stretch due to the eroding and protruding metal. The worst area is about 8/10th of a mile from the diversion dam down to the end of the American Legion park.
After three years of planning, coordinating with the US Army Corp of Engineers, Division of Wildlife, and mapping the hazards GDA volunteers, with the heavy equipment help of Wagoner Construction removed 25,040 pounds or 12.5 tons of metal from the river this past Wednesday 11/11/2009. It was quite a sight to see massive rusted car bodies dating from the 1930s being chained up and pulled out of the river. In addidition to the rusty cars, these volunteers also removed concrete with embedded rebar that have ripped open more than one boat, metal grates and massive metal cables that were holding the cars in place. My favorite quote of the day "Hmm... We just extracted a disintegrated whole car complete with chrome trim and a flat top V8, and that other chrome bumper next to it hasn't moved yet...". Literally, as one known and mapped car was removed another car not known of prior was located...they were stacked in the river and on the banks like fire wood. While there is still more metal hazard to be removed, the worst offenders are now at Belt Salvage in Cortez! Rafters, kayakers, tubers, fishermen, fish and river lovers are all a bit safer and happier due to this GDA project!!
GDA is hoping to continue partnership with DOW to assist with fish habitat improvements in this stretch. Other projects that GDA has accomplished included in-stream fish habitat improvements and assisitng the building of the Town of Dolores river trail with Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO) grant funding. GDA also partially funds the riverflow gauge at Slickrock with Dolores River Festival dollars, as part of a cost-share program with the US Geological Survey, the Dolores Water Conservation District and San Juan Citizens Alliance.
Future projects that GDA is working towards (with the help of money raised at the Dolores River Festival) include safer river launch sites on the Upper Dolores. They are working with land owners on the West Fork and as far up river as Bear Creek to accomplish this. They are also hoping to collaborate on a play wave at Stampede Run. The land owners in these areas have always been generous to allow boaters access via their land, and GDA is working to preserves these partnerships.
I am really proud of these folks, all friends, neighbors and community members for their time and dedication to the river that ties us together. This is a small group of dedicated volunteers that are really making a difference. Specifically I send a shout out to Scott Clow the GDA Board Chair, Mike Gibson, Andy Hutchinson, Kate Thompson, Kevin Cook, Chris "Topher" Roberts, Shaine Gans and Rosie, all the partner agencies, and Wagoner Construction.
If you would like more information or would like to join GDA you can call Scott Clow at 970-882-4780. The Dolores River Festival web site is Dolores River Festival
Thanks everyone, you rock the river!!!!
Tracy aka Doloresgirl