Alamosa river restoration plans

Photo courtesy RGHRP. Alamosa: The Rio Grande in Alamosa is the site of improvements planned by the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. Increased recreational aspects of the plan include a river put-in to facilitate access.

ALAMOSA — The Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP) is making progress with plans to invigorate the riparian corridor of the Rio Grande in Alamosa. The plan includes recreational opportunities along the river at Cole Park, improving aging and hazardous agricultural diversion infrastructure, and improving aquatic habitat.

The RGHRP is a non-profit based in Alamosa with the mission of restoring the Rio Grande for all users, recreational, agricultural, and wildlife.

According to Cassandra McCuen, Project Manager with the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, "We have $310,000 of funding for planning and design for the project this includes community outreach/engagement events, near-final designs, and permitting. Final construction costs will be determined based on the final designs."

Funders for the planning and design phase include Colorado Health Foundation, Trinchera Blanca Foundation, Colorado Water Conservation Board, City of Alamosa. Partners include the City of Alamosa, SLV GO, Rio Grande Farm Park, Alamosa County, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, and Westside Ditch water users.

McCuen said Jub Engineering and RiverRestoration have been hired to work with the community during the planning and design process. RiverRestoration has worked on a portfolio of aquatic projects in both restoration and recreation. The firm was retained by the Bend (Oregon) Parks and Recreation Department in 2010 to replace a hazardous dam on the Deschutes River and transform the area into a recreational paradise. The firm was also hired by the Town of Vail to improve the performance of the Vail Whitewater Park. Both of these sites are tourist destinations.

The plan will increase community access to river-based recreation including a put-in. The improvements will be similar to the work RGHRP did along the Rio in Del Norte to increase recreational opportunities there.

Included in the project are improvements to the aging infrastructure for the Westside Ditch, just east of HWY 160.

Aquatic and riparian habitats will benefit from the construction of a low-flow channel, fish habitat structures, and the removal of invasive species.

Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman told the Valley Courier, "This is an exciting planning process and we are grateful for the community partnerships that make this project possible. The 2017 Comprehensive Plan lists the activation of the Rio Grande as the number one community priority, so this project helps us move that effort forward."

The Valley Courier will have news of the public meetings regarding the restoration project along the Rio Grande when they become available.