The Town of Telluride Open Space San Miguel River Valley Floor Property had been heavily impacted by past land use practices. Historic mining contaminated the river and the construction of a rail line through the valley caused the once meandering stream to be channelized to run parallel to the railroad and cut off from its floodplain. ERC was selected by the Town to restore the river which required creating a new alignment for approximately 0.8 miles. In addition to the stream realignment, adjacent wetland areas and the riparian floodplain were restored. Design work required detailed geomorphologic evaluations to define an appropriate planform and geometry that replicate natural conditions and create equilibrium with flows and sediment loads. A riffle/pool bedform was found to be appropriate given the valley type and slope. Plans created a natural system that provided the function of an unimpacted stream while incorporating current day constraints of the valley including two conflicting sewer line crossings, heavy recreational uses, the need to preserve historic and cultural features, and the requirement that the project be created with no-rise to the regulatory floodplain. ERC/Tezak completed the project as a design/build contract. The new river was built, the old river alignment was filled and all revegetation occurred within a three-month window.

 

Telluride Arial View

Before & After

Photos provide an overview of pre project conditions of the stream channel alignment

Telluride Valley Floor Before

Telluride Valley Floor Before

 

Telluride Valley Floor After

Telluride Valley Floor After

 

Construction

 

Telluride Valley Floor Construction

Telluride Valley Floor Construction

 

Telluride Valley Floor Construction

Telluride Valley Floor Construction

 

Telluride Valley Floor

Telluride Valley Floor

 

Telluride Valley Floor

Telluride Valley Floor

 

 

Improvements

Objectives achieved by the restoration include:

  • Re-establishing the natural, meandering channel form
  • Reconnecting the stream to its floodplain
  • Creation of instream habitat
  • Balancing sediment transport
  • Reclaiming of riparian and upland habitat
  • Mitigating historic mining impacts
  • Improving active and passive recreational opportunities