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Kerber Creek Project makes a difference

When stream banks are cut, and the stream is running a few feet below the rest of the land, problems occur. The stream is not able to connect to its floodplain, and the land around the stream starts to dry out. For those who graze cattle on the land, their livelihoods are also at stake because of this.

When a stream is wide and shallow, fish are no longer able to survive in the warm, slow moving, and thus oxygen deprived waters. High upstream cattle (or other animals) will graze, adding all sorts of undesirable things to the water, thus impairing its potability.

The dedicated efforts of a few individuals can really make a difference, however, such as those involved in the Kerber Creek Restoration Project located in Saguache.

Brady and Jane Farrell, who have been on the project since the beginning and continue to be involved, share the following:

“Today, walking along our section of Kerber Creek is a completely different experience. The eroding banks have been reinforced with large rocks and stabilized by plantings. There are fish for the grand-kids to catch and release because the water is deeper. The aspens we planted along the creek are catching hold. The J hooks and weirs and other structures have created deep pockets for the fish to survive in, and the overall depth is increased as a result of re-channeling parts of the creek. Formerly by late summer the whole creek was so shallow you could walk across it without hardly getting your shoes wet, and there was little growth along the banks.

“Aesthetically, the whole environment along the creek is so different. A healthy creek is certainly much more attractive in every way. We love sitting by it or walking along it, enjoying the growing plants along the banks and cascading water along the creek that was formerly shallow, with banks falling into the water and little growth along the course of the stream. What a change has occurred over these past few years. And it will only get better in the coming years as the plantings mature and fish get bigger.”

The Kerber Creek Restoration Project is an award winning collaboration of 16 federal, state, and local agencies, non-profit groups and more than 20 local landowners dedicated to the restoration of the Kerber Creek watershed from historic mining impacts. From 2007 to the present, the Bonanza Stakeholders Group has raised over $2 million towards restoration efforts and contributed over 13,000 volunteer hours on the Restoration Project.

These efforts have enabled the restoration of over 50 acres of degraded lands and 6 miles of stream improvements.

For more information on Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin, please visit www.rgwcei.org or www.water2012.org. This weekend, don’t miss the Congreso de Acequias, the first gathering of acequia farmers in Colorado.  The Congreso will take place primarily Saturday, October 20th and Sunday, October 21st, with a welcome reception the evening of Friday, October 19.  For more information on this event and to register, please visit www.sangreacequias.org.

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