BTRRC would like to welcome Ayres and Associates as the multi-disciplinary team helping to create a river restoration master plan for the Big Thompson River. They will also be working to identify pre-spring emergency projects that are not being addressed by other agencies but that are a high priority based on risk. The longer-term master planning efforts will include the main stem of the Big Thompson River from the Olympus Dam near Estes Park, CO to the confluence with the South Platte River, including the North Fork of the Big Thompson River (from its mouth to the border with Rocky Mountain National Park). Public meetings to provide input for the master plan will begin later this winter. If you haven’t become a stakeholder yet, please do so soon, so that your input can be provided into the master plan that will shape your river.
The phase one (exigent) plan is anticipated to be completed by the end of March, with the long-term restoration plan (phase two) being completed by late summer. The coalition looks forward to working with Ayres and Associates and the public throughout this master planning process!
Flood Recovery Open House:
Check out this link for an upcoming Larmier County Flood Recovery Open House on March 8th.
Update on CDOT Reseeding:
CDOT will be hydroseeding the areas within the right-of-way that have been substantially disturbed (including the area near Brown Trout Lane).
A native, dryland seed mix will be used. The plan is to do this work after the spring thaw, if possible. If this isn’t possible, it will be done during a suitable weather window before March 31.
The NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) has identified initial sites along the Big Thompson Canyon, Glen Haven, and Fish Creek, that are expected to be at risk during spring runoff. In a joint effort between the NRCS and the County, they will determine which sites in unincorporated Larimer County should be pursued for exigency work. It is important to know that just because a property is on the list does not mean it will receive repairs/treatments. There have only been conceptual costs put to each of the approximate 50 sites identified by the NRCS Damage Assessment Crew, and those costs may change as the County and NRCS move into the design phase. If the costs come in higher than the funds available, NRCS and Larimer County will have to prioritize what does or doesn’t get done. Additionally, the NRCS and Larimer County will look closely at identified properties to determine if repair costs are greater than the value of the property. If this is the case, it may be decided that repairing the property is not the best fiscal choice with limited funds available. The locations have been identified by GPS coordinates and now the county is matching that data up with the parcel maps and will notify landowners shortly. Joe Temple, one of the Larimer County project engineers will serve as the project manager for the county and will work with Todd Boldt and his team at the NRCS.
UPDATE FROM NRCS ON EXIGENCY FUNDS FOR FLOOD-IMPACTED PRIVATE LANDS
In October, NRCS Field Offices in Colorado that were affected by the flood were tasked by our State Conservationist to assess exigent sites. Exigent being defined as imminent threat to life. In Larimer County we completed our task at the end of October. We sent the information to our Lakewood State Office where they compiled the information from the 17 counties. In mid-November NRCS requested money from NHQ in the amount of $100,000,000 USD. Shortly after that NRCS-NHQ allocated 10 million dollars of construction funds to Colorado-NRCS to deal with exigent sites. Through this EWP process, NRCS Colorado has established a relationship with the State of Colorado OEM. The OEM will act as a pass through of the money to a local sponsor. Out of our office the local sponsors right now are Estes Park and Larimer County. The OEM will throw in 12.5 on top of NRCS 75% for eligible recovery practices. Thus the local sponsor has to come up with 12.5%. Recovery practices must address potential future erosion and flooding issues. NRCS is in negotiations right now with Larimer County and Estes Park to finalize sponsorship agreements which will define each partner’s role and responsibilities. In Larimer County we have close to 50 exigent sites with a rough estimate of repair at 4 million dollars. As of January 6th, NRCS Colorado detailed 5 engineers to the Fort Collins FO to work in Boulder and Larimer County. On January 13th, 3 engineers from Oklahoma will show up. Their task is to design needed treatment on the exigent sites in boulder and Larimer County. Out of my office we plan to have the designs done by January 31. With the final construction to be done no later than April 15.
Sometime in the middle of November, FEMA authorized the use of retired USACOE engineers to assist NRCS assessment teams. The first step in that junction was to revisit the exigent sites. The second step or Phase 2 was to task the COE team to assess non exigent sites. They have completed the Upper Buckhorn, Little Buckhorn and Little Thompson River. When they return this week they will begin more assessments in fish creek, fall river, glen haven and the big Thompson river. I have until January 31st to compile that information, forward to the NRCS state office, which will then forward the request to NHQ. NHQ then will have to go Congress and request additional funding. When Congress funds it is anyone’s guess. The other question with phase 2 is will OEM add the 12.5 for the non-exigent sites. The COE team is looking at debris removal, bank reconstruction and streambank stabilization and estimating volumes, NRCS will determine the costs of those three items in conjunction with the local sponsor.