The Five Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a Durango-based river conservation group, recently completed a one-year project to rehabilitate and protect a stretch of Hermosa Creek in the San Juan National Forest.
Five Rivers members, working in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, did extensive bank rehabilitation, shrub and grass planting, trout habitat construction, erosion control and other work on a stretch of severely eroded creek. Members contributed 152 hours of volunteer labor to the project.
The project began in October 2011 when Five Rivers applied for a grant from the national Trout Unlimited organization under its Embrace-A-Stream program. In early 2012, the national organization awarded Five Rivers $2,000 for the project, a budget augmented with a $300 contribution from the local chapter.
In addition to many willow shoots cut and put in the ground, alders and twin berries planted and grass seed raked in, Five Rivers members installed four massive root wads into river banks to provide cover for trout. They also placed tons of stone and anchored numerous logs along banks to stabilize key riparian areas.
The Hermosa Creek project is part of an effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reintroduce the native Colorado River cutthroat trout to Hermosa Creek and other watersheds in this valley a few miles west of Durango Mountain Resort.
The project site is just south of where Forest Road 578 fords Hermosa Creek. Additional projects in the watershed are slated for 2013 and beyond.