Special to the MDP

Earlier this month, the Colorado Water Conservation Board approved the City of Montrose’s grant request of $60,000 from the State Basin Fund and $40,000 from the Gunnison Basin Roundtable through the Water Supply Reserve Fund.

The Gunnison Basin Roundtable had previously recommended the request be funded at their July 15 meeting in Montrose.

With the funding announcement, the CWCB will provide a total of $500,000 between the Water Supply Reserve Fund and the Colorado Watershed Restoration Programs.

In January the city was selected to receive $400,000 from CWCB through the Colorado Watershed Restoration Program for improvements on the Uncompahgre River.

Grant funds will be used to begin Phase 1 of river restoration improvements on 0.65 miles (3,400 feet) of the Uncompahgre River, traversing through the Colorado Outdoors Project, now slated to begin in fall 2020.

The project will include reestablishing a resilient channel, connecting the river to its floodplain, creating a stable riparian zone, improving fish and other aquatic habitats, stabilizing the river banks, and providing river access to the public.

A variety of land-use practices, flow modifications, and encroachment have impacted the Uncompahgre River and resulted in an overly wide channel, bank stabilization issues, and lack of aquatic and riparian habitat.

Within the project area, approximately two-thirds of the river contains what would be considered marginal fish habitat; the remainder is generally devoid of any suitable fish habitat. Aerial imagery indicates the river’s channel has moved approximately 400 feet over the past 50 years.

“The City of Montrose is appreciative of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Gunnison Basin Roundtable for their support of the Uncompahgre River Improvements Project," said Grant Coordinator Kendall Cramer.

The project complements the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) development and the soon-to-be-open Great Outdoors Colorado Connect Initiative Recreation Trail.

The City of Montrose has a long-standing record of work to preserve, protect, and enhance the Uncompahgre River corridor, beginning with the acquisition of land along the river to build Riverbottom Park in the early 1970s.

"Investment in the river promises to provide environmental, recreational, and economic benefits to the City of Montrose," Cramer said. "The project will complement the soon-to-be dedicated GOCO Connect Trail and continued investment in the Colorado Outdoors development."

The city anticipates construction to begin in winter 2020-2021. Due to river flows, work must be completed within a four-month timeframe from November to February when the river is at its lowest.

The project will be implemented by a stream-restoration contractor selected through the city’s competitive bidding process.

Information provided by city news release.

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