The Upper Swan River Valley near Breckenridge, Colorado is currently full of dredge rock, a legacy left over from the mining days when man and machine ravaged the landscape in search of gold; but at one point – a river ran through it. A river so amazing, so robust, that it might be tough to imagine. The Upper Swan River Valley is where the three main forks, or tributaries, of the watershed come together. Over 100 years ago, the valley was full of thick willows where beavers and moose made their homes. It included the main stem of the Swan River which provided habitat for native cutthroat trout who freely migrated between the three tributaries.
In some ways the river still does run, but not like it’s supposed to. The water is still there, it’s just buried by thousands of cubic yards of cobble. Imagine a river and its valley basically turned upside down. The river is still being fed by snow covered peaks from the Continental Divide, but the rich and amazing habitat for fish and wildlife is no longer there.
The Swan River Restoration Project is working to restore and reconnect the three main tributaries, over 15 miles of river, which has been disconnected for a century. The project calls to resurface the Swan River so fish can once again freely migrate throughout the 20,000+ acre watershed. The project will focus on rebuilding two miles of river which will include robust fish habitat of pools and riffles; ultimately creating over 30 acres of outstanding riparian habitat and another 60 acres of upland habitat with trails and access for all to enjoy.
This restoration project is a strong collaborative effort that includes a variety of key stakeholders including; the US Forest Service, the Town of Breckenridge, Trout Unlimited, Summit County government, Everest Materials, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, and the Blue River Watershed Council.
With much of the stream design and planning complete the last thing to do is flip the river right-side-up! Help us FLIP THE SWAN and join us in this legacy project by volunteering with SRRP or supporting us with your generous financial contributions.