© 2024 Aspen Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Emergency Funding For Watershed Protection Headed To Glenwood Canyon

Alex Hager
Aspen Public Radio
Glenwood Springs is receiving federal emergency funding to help protect water infrastructure within the Grizzly Creek burn area, where charred hillsides could lead to rock falls and mudslides near vital parts of the watershed.

More than a million federal dollars could be sent to Glenwood Springs for emergency builds around watershed infrastructure. The National Resources Conservation Service approved the first batch of $5 million in Emergency Watershed Protection funds last week, with funding headed to Garfield, Mesa, Larimer and Grand Counties. 

Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said water infrastructure within the Grizzly Creek Fire burn area is at risk of damage from debris slides or rock falls, and this funding will be used to install emergency protections in that area. 

“The City of Glenwood Springs gets the far majority of its water year-round from the Grizzly Creek and No Name watersheds,” she said. “So being able to protect those watersheds is of the utmost importance to the city.”

Figueroa said that infrastructure, which is set back “a little over three and a half miles up the mountain” was not damaged by the fire, but needs to be protected from future damage in the burn area. 

Glenwood Springs estimates emergency repairs will cost $10-15 million, and the federal assistance will help offset some engineering and construction costs. The city asked for $1.15 million from this first installment of federal emergency funding, which will have to be matched at either 10% or 25% by the city.

Figueroa said the city will also apply for other grants, including an emergency loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. 

That board’s director, Rebecca Mitchell, said in a news release that staff is working now to monitor and study the effects on watersheds because of the Grizzly Creek Fire, as well as additional concerns about flood risk. 

“As the wildfire's ash and soot continue to flow downstream,” Mitchell said, “we estimate that it will take up to seven years for affected watersheds to fully recover, and our team will be part of this recovery process for years to come."

Alex is KUNC's reporter covering the Colorado River Basin. He spent two years at Aspen Public Radio, mainly reporting on the resort economy, the environment and the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, he covered the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery for KDLG in Dillingham, Alaska.
Related Content