Arkansas River Wetland Management Study
- Client: Central Colorado Conservancy
- Date: September – October, 2022
- Project Type: Wetland Management, Conservation Planning
- Info: Blue Mountain Environmental Consulting conducted a wetland management study for a property in Lake County, Colorado. We identified potential environmental concerns and ultimately created the Arkansas River Community Preserve.
The property is located in the southeastern corner of Lake County, Colorado, south of Leadville along US Highway 24. The process included interviews with the owners and occupants, a site visit, and a review of government records. The properties are downstream of the historical Leadville Mining District and California Gulch Superfund site. Some parcels contained portions of the Arkansas River and flood plain.
The Property is comprised of a shortgrass prairie and sagebrush ecosystem. It includes a stretch of the Arkansas River with associated wetlands and upland communities. Due to heavy mining activity in the region (historical and active), the Arkansas River at its headwaters was considered toxic and lifeless. Through collaborative efforts, the Arkansas River has been turned into a gold-medal fishing destination.
Terrestrial and aquatic habitats on the property are continuous and in excellent condition. The Arkansas River was historically inhabited by greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias), the state fish of Colorado. Cutthroat trout require cold-water rivers such as the Arkansas that are characterized by pools, undercut banks, high river complexity and cover. The portion of the Arkansas River that flows along the property provides abundant microhabitats. These pools accommodate the trout’s selective habitat preference for spawning, foraging and refuge.