Welcome to the Swan River Restoration website! We are excited to launch this website as the central source for information related to the Swan River Restoration project. From here, you can learn more about the project, who is involved, and the collective vision for a restored Swan River.
The Swan River valley has a rich history, going as far back as 7,000 years when the Ute Indians hunted and fished the valleys throughout what is now Summit County. The first small groups of European settlers arrived to the area in the early 1800’s; mainly fur trappers in search of pelts and hides. However, it was the discovery of gold and silver in 1859 in Breckenridge that gave Summit County worldwide attention and created its early economic growth. By the beginning of World War II, mining activities essentially came to a standstill and Summit County’s population and economy dwindled. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Summit County’s economy surged again with the development of ski resorts that drew visitors from around the globe. Today, millions of people visit the area to enjoy the natural environment and a multitude of recreation activities. It was the gold rush that put Summit County on the worldwide map, but it is the recreational tourism boon that keeps it there.
With the recreation boom sustaining the Summit County of today, there is now demand to restore the natural environment mining destroyed. Over the last 15+ years, many damaged stretches of stream throughout Summit County have been restored to a more natural condition in order to meet recreational demand for activities like angling and boating. The Four Mile Bridge stretch of the Upper Blue River in Breckenridge was buried under tons of dredge gravels just over a decade ago. Today, after being restored to a more natural condition, this same stretch of river is one of the most productive trout fisheries on the entire Blue River and a very popular location for anglers. We hope to replicate this success on the Swan River.
Formal plans to restore the Swan River have been in the works for over five years. The coalition of partners listed on the project website has collaborated closely to establish restoration goals and raise the funds necessary to undertake this massive restoration effort. Earlier this year, Summit County was awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and Colorado Basin Table roundtable to support the project. This was the largest grant ever awarded by these organizations for this type of project and provided the funding necessary to move from the planning phase into final design and construction.
As we work towards the goal of commencing construction on Phase 1 of the Swan River Restoration in 2016, we hope you will follow along. You can also get involved by volunteering, donating, or simply contacting us to ask questions.
Summit County Open Space and Trails
Fourmile Bridge section of the Blue River prior to restoration.
Fourmile Bridge section of the Blue River two growing seasons after restoration activities were completed.