Went down to the Las Colonias River Park this afternoon. They have made wonderful progress rejuvenating this once neglected riparian area. The City of Grand Junction has really done a great job. In their plans they excavated and expanded the Watson Island channel to add 1.77 acres of new open water. Let me tell you it shows, the channel looks gorgeous!
Let me show you.
First, they expanded the inlet and reinforced the entrance to allow for greater flows throughout the year. You can see the reinforced entry and expansion. The city site says that the channel will flow at 810 cfs and higher. Today the river was running at 1550 cfs. If we subtract 800 from that then we can get an estimate of what the flow in the channel was. You wouldn’t have guess by just looking but the water in the channel was really flowing, 750 cfs by my calculations. This doesn’t seem like much when you look at the pictures of the channel but when the Colorado is pumping at 15k this channel will look a lot different. The engineering looks like they took into account higher flow by overbuilding the channel. Very exciting!
You can see they built the channel right next to the Las Colonias Boat Ramp.
And the reinforced entrance
As you look down river at low levels this is a wonderful meandering riparian area. It’s beautiful now but at higher water I can imagine those boulders having strong eddies and even becoming big features at really high water. The fish are going to love it.
Just an eddy for now but when the flows are up this will become a nice pour over or hole.
I love how they have laid out the rocks here leading up to the amphitheater. Some great habitat for fish and birds and some fun eddy hopping for boaters.
The efforts being made by the city to restore this riparian zone are evident. Their efforts to rejuvenate this natural area to a healthy state is evident with the planting of new trees and the revegetation they have planned to sprout for the spring. You can see signs of revegetation all along the walk beside the channel.
You can really see the water moving. Like I said before this should be about 750 cfs in the channel. I could be wrong. maybe we should get a gauge placed at the inlet...
I love seeing these rock formations. Two big jutting rock ridges! As the flows grow so will these features. But unlike the rocks in the river which could turn into some wild holes and pour overs these ridges will steadily grow proportionally with the flow. Eddies, nice strong ones. There is even stair access right behind one of the ridges. This channel is very recreationalist friendly.
Again, more beautiful rock features and eddy hoping above the main event.
The drop line on the major feature along the canal. You can see the water drop off and some spray rising behind it.
This main feature is huge and built for the low and high flows.Some fun seating to watch the wildlife and river go by. Creating a gentle breaking wave with large eddies on either side at low water, I am sure fish will enjoy jumping up and swimming through this great ecological feature. At higher water I expect this to grow and get rather rowdy.
Below the main event, the middle pool is nice and large with boulders for eddies and stairs for access. There are actually two ways down into the pool for the public to admire the river right behind the Las Colonias Amphitheater.
The lower feature looks as if it is designed to be a standing wave generator. At higher water we should see the standing waves behind it grow in height with some breaking or even crashing. But a wave train for sure. Not built as aggressive as the main event I think it is meant to be more washed out and not as daunting as huge crashing wave at high water. This feature will be neat to see at higher water. What will it become? There are definitely big eddies on either side of it.
The pool below is big an open with more stair access to the river’s edge.
It’s really wonderful to see how all the city’s hard work has panned out so far. The riparian rejuvenation that is happening is great for this section of the river. Not only are the fish going to benefit from the natural features built into the channel but, I am sure that the birds and animals will appreciate the new vegetation growing up alongside its edges. These ecological features are already pleasing because they are a change for the better. I am sure over time their austere beauty will grow as the plants establish themselves along the banks.
I think the city has really done a great job with this project. It looks like it’s built for the future to come and not just the here and now. Great work!
I encourage you to take a stroll along the Las Colonias River Park and see for yourself the wonderful riparian restoration the city has done.