Spruce Creek rekindles its connection with wetlands in Summit County
What do you call a wetland without water? We’re trying not to find out!
In September 2022, Spruce Creek, a small perennial stream in Summit County managed within the Kremmling Field Office was reconnected to its floodplain and began to rehydrate over 22 acres of wetland habitat. Spruce Creek and nearby wetlands provide many benefits to the ecosystem, such as prime locations for moose, elk, beavers and habitat for genetically pure Colorado River Cutthroat Trout. Not only do wetlands provide habitat, but they naturally improve water quality, provide drought resiliency and well... they’re just beautiful!
In 2014, a case of tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever”, wiped out the beavers in this area and the unmaintained dams began to fail. Since beaver dams enhance wetlands and elevate the water table, when they began to deteriorate, the wetlands also began to deteriorate. By 2019, there were only a few small pools of water left in the wetlands and most of the area was disconnected from Spruce Creek.
The BLM began to work with our partners in 2020 to restore the wetlands. The BLM and Blue Valley Ranch replaced a culvert with a bottomless arch culvert, improving stream connectivity below the wetland complex. The ranch also moved their irrigation diversion downstream, improving flows in occupied habitat for the Cutthroat Trout. Beaver Dam Analogs, manmade structures to mimic natural beaver dams and attract beavers, were proposed to improve pool habitat. To maximize the benefits of the dams, the BLM worked with private landowners to build structures on both BLM and private lands. With help from Partners for Fish and Wildlife, EcoMetrics, Colorado Open Lands, Friends of the Lower Blue River, Upper Colorado River Watershed Group, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps interns, we were able to construct 75 dam structures over a two-week period.
This restoration work has allowed Spruce Creek to reconnect with wetlands and the future looks promising for this ecosystem! Not only are we proud to support the environment on your public lands, but we are grateful to have wonderful local partners who understand the importance of our mission and providing the best public land experience possible.
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