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Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Rocky Mountain National Park will conduct two public meetings to develop alternatives for the Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Project on Oct 12, and 14, 2010. The first meeting will be held at the Grand Lake Fire Station 1, 201 West Portal Road in Grand Lake on Tuesday, October 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The second meeting will be held in Fort Collins at the Café Columbine Conference Room, 802 West Drake Road on Thursday, October 14, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
On May 30, 2003, the Grand Ditch, a trans-basin, water-diversion canal in the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park breached its bank. The breach saturated an adjacent hillslope which gave way, sending a massive mud- and rock-slide down into Lulu Creek and the headwaters of the Colorado River. The slide damaged upland, stream, riparian and wetland habitat over a 1.5-mile distance and 22-acre area. The breach sent an estimated 100 cubic feet per second flow down a steep hillside, creating a flood that sent an estimated 47,600 cubic yards of boulders, trees and sediment cascading down into Lulu Creek. The damage included over 20,000 destroyed trees and impacts to approximately 50 different plant species.
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the National Park Service, filed a civil lawsuit against the Water Storage and Supply Company (WSSC), owners of the Grand Ditch under the terms of the Park System Resource Protection Act (PSRPA), which provides for the payment of compensation by private parties for damages to park resources. A settlement was reached in 2008.
Rocky Mountain National Park is involved in a multi-year process to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to guide the restoration of the breach-impacted area. The purpose of the restoration project is to restore the hydrological processes, ecological services and wilderness character impacted by the 2003 Grand Ditch Breach. Input was gathered from park staff, other agencies, and the public to develop a draft set of alternatives for restoration of the breach-impacted area that would meet the purpose of the project.
Five draft alternatives have been developed including a no action alternative, and four action alternatives that apply a variety of restoration methods to achieve the goals of the project. Restoration options include combinations of the following: allowing native vegetation to recover on its own; restoring native plants with appropriate, locally gathered plant materials; removing dead timber from the impacted area and/or using it in the restoration process; use of temporary fencing to protect native plant restoration areas; removing deposited sediment and redistributing it through the impacted area or elsewhere; regrading and recontouring areas to restore appropriate hydrologic processes; stabilizing steep, unstable slopes with an engineered solution. Some options may include the use of motorized equipment such as chainsaws, heavy lift helicopters, and earthmoving equipment.
Issues to be addressed in the EIS process include short-and-long-term potential impacts to: wilderness character; geological resources; geological hazards; soundscapes; surface and groundwater hydrology; stream channel, floodplain and wetland morphology and function; water quality; riparian and wetland communities; species of special concern (plants and animals); wildlife habitat; aquatic habitat; visitor experience; long-term resource productivity; archeological and historical sites.
A newsletter has been prepared that details the draft alternatives. Copies of that information may be obtained from Rocky Mountain National Park's Information Office, 1000 US Highway 36, Estes Park, Colorado 80517-8397, (970) 586-1206. Information will be available for public review online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo.
If you wish to comment on the draft alternatives or on any other issues associated with the EIS, you may submit your comments by any one of several methods. You may mail comments to: Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Plan, Rocky Mountain National Park, 1000 US Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517-8397. You may email comments to e-mail us or comment via the Internet at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo. Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to: Superintendent, Rocky Mountain National Park, at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
Comments to the website or by mail are encouraged to be submitted by November 1, 2010.