The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s Cordillera Valley Club Water Tank site in Edwards, Colorado is a challenging restoration site located on a steep ridgetop at 7,600 feet in elevation. The project encompasses the slopes of the new, buried water tank, as well as the site where the original water tank was removed. This necessitated a two-phased restoration over more than 3 acres, where more than 25% of the site has slopes greater than 2:1.
Prior to founding Birch Ecology, Heather Houston was responsible for developing the Revegetation Plan for this site, and provided close oversight of landscaping crews to ensure the successful implementation. In addition, she monitored the vegetation establishment using quantitative methods, provided recommendations for integrated weed management, and prepared annual reports for submittal to Eagle County in accordance with the terms of the 1041 Permit.
The restoration site has been revegetated to a semidesert shrubland dominated by mountain big sagebrush, bitterbrush, and winterfat, and the restoration success criteria were all achieved within the minimum monitoring period. Our senior ecologist presented the results of this project at the 2017 meeting of the Central Rockies Chapter for the Society for Ecological Restoration.
The processes of topsoil salvage, storage, and replacement were critical to the success of the restoration, and were overseen by Dave Buscher, a certified professional soil scientist. Dave also provided fertilizer specifications based on soil nutrient analysis and worked onsite with earthmoving contractors during topsoil salvage and replacement. Due to careful planning and handling, the soil seed bank was preserved. In addition, hand-collected seed from the adjacent U.S. Forest Service Lands was used to supplement the commercial seed mix, resulting in a high-quality restoration with excellent species diversity.