History

Eagle River Watershed Council owes its existence to the mining area around and below the present day ghost town of Gilman and because the Eagle River flows down the canyon just feet away from the mine site. Not surprisingly, the Eagle became contaminated with soluble heavy metals and the area was declared a Superfund site in 1985 which led to a massive clean-up effort.

1870

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Gold and silver is discovered in the Gilman-Belden area, about 3 miles northwest of Red Cliff and 6 miles southwest of Minturn on US-24. Mining begins.

1905

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Mining focus shifts to primarily lead and zinc.

1984

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Mining operations close and are abandoned. With the electricity shut off, the pumps that kept the mine clear of water are no longer operating and the mine floods. Acidic mine water, containing dissolved zinc, copper, cadmium and other heavy metals run into the Eagle River.

1986

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The 235-acre Eagle Mine site is placed on the list of Superfund sites.

1988

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A citizens’ group, called Eagle River Environmental Business Alliance (EREBA), is formed to monitor the cleanup. The clean-up project encounters problems, causing the Eagle River to turn orange and making it inhabitable to fish for miles downstream.

1995

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EPA studies identify that further remedial action is required and modifications to the original clean-up plan are implemented.

1996

The Eagle River Watershed Plan is adopted by Eagle County after a three-year public process with over 100 local citizens working with municipal and county staff. The Eagle River Watershed Plan recommends that a citizen’s group be formally established to implement and monitor the Plan.

1996

A number of groups, including EREBA, the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee, the Eagle River Clean Up, the Community Pride Highway Cleanup, the 2008 Water Quality Plan, the White River National Forest Association and many of the individuals active in the development of the Eagle River Watershed Plan are in existence. All these groups form the basic starting committee system from which Eagle River Watershed Council emerges.

1998

The Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment Program (WQMAP) is created to help stakeholders and the community understand the overall health of streams in our watershed. WQMAP continues to operate and provides a foundation for science-based decision-making.

2000

Funds are raised to hire the first staff person for Eagle River Watershed Council – effectively a consultant role.

2002

The Sediment Control Action Plan for Black Gore Creek is released

2004

Eagle River Watershed Council works with Colorado Department of Transportation, United States Forest Service, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Town of Vail, Eagle County, Colorado Department of Public Environmental Health, RiverRestoration.org and interested citizens to develop and implement strategies to restore stream health with the goal of removing Black Gore Creek from the 303(d) list of impaired streams.

2004

Eagle River Watershed Council works with Colorado Department of Transportation, United States Forest Service, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Town of Vail, Eagle County, Colorado Department of Public Environmental Health, RiverRestoration.org and interested citizens to develop and implement strategies to restore stream health with the goal of removing Black Gore Creek from the 303(d) list of impaired streams.

2005

Eagle River Inventory and Assessment is completed. [should we link to it?]

2006

The organization’s largest project to-date, the Edwards Eagle River Restoration [Link? See 2015], is undertaken to narrow and deepen the Eagle River upstream of the Hillcrest Drive Bridge in Edwards, in an effort to reduce rising stream temperatures.

2008

Eagle River Watershed Council starts a RiverWatch team to monitor water quality monthly in 3 locations downstream from the Eagle Mine.

2010

Local stakeholders form the Urban Runoff Group and initiate work on the Gore Creek Water Quality Improvement Plan

2011

Gore Creek is placed on the 303(d) list of impaired streams, due to impaired aquatic life. Later studies discover the impairments stem from many causes- many of which are related to increased human development.

2013

The Eagle River Watershed Plan is updated.

2013

Staff expands to two full-time salaried employees with the hiring of an education and outreach coordinator.

2013

Biannual sediment source monitoring begins on Black Gore Creek to evaluate if current practices are effective at maintaining or restoring desired conditions for sediment to support beneficial uses.

2014

The Colorado River Inventory & Assessment [LINK], commissioned by Eagle River Watershed Council, is completed by Colorado State University.

2014

A projects coordinator is hired, expanding staff to three full-time employees.

2015

The $4 million+ Edwards Eagle River Restoration Project is completed. [Link to this video about the project

2017

The first bilingual Community Float is held and 35 participants enjoya day on the river with Spanish-speaking raft guides.

2019

The Abrams Creek Cutthrout Project is completed through a unique and historic partnership with Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and Eagle River Watershed Council. This project protects the only known indigenous trout population in the Eagle River Valley.

2019

The inauguralEagle River Water Festival is held with 350 of the county’s 5th-graders spending the day learning about water, rivers and our watershed.

2019

Staff grows to four with the addition of a development and communications coordinator.