Sunshine Creek Restoration

Sunshine Creek is an ephemeral stream and tributary of Boulder Creek that was severely impacted by a 100-year flood in September 2013.  Birch Ecology worked with private landowners in the City of Boulder to restore and enhance this urbanized reach following the flood.

Birch Ecology assembled and managed a team of professionals to complete the restoration, including Steve Belz of Black Creek Hydrology who developed the geomorphic design for the stream channel and oversaw its construction.  In addition, our ecologists delineated the wetlands and obtained wetland permits from the City of Boulder and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; developed and implemented the revegetation plan; provided construction oversight; and managed the process of obtaining the floodplain permit and retaining wall permits.

Today, the project reach is a mosaic of boulders inter-planted with a diverse native riparian and wetland plant community. Large, natural river boulders embedded in the banks provide the aesthetic of an eroded alluvial fan. Trees, shrubs, and grasses help to stabilize the banks, and wildflowers bring seasonal washes of yellow and purple blossoms that attract native pollinators. Runoff from surrounding pavement seeps between boulders and into planting pockets where roots and soils filter and take up the water. The layering of native plant life provides for wildlife habitat, and creates an opportunity for the residents and passerby to connect with the ecology of the region.  In addition to the design and implementation of the restoration project, Birch Ecology continues to provide monitoring and stewardship of the restored stream corridor and is partnering with the adjacent landowners to expand the restoration.

Sunshine Creek Restoration Stream Channel
Restored channel of Sunshine Creek.
Sunshine Creek Planting Pockets 2
Planting pockets are overflowing with native riparian and wetland vegetation.
Sunshine Creek Restoration Channel with wetlands
Wetlands line the restored stream channel.
Sunshine Creek Planting Pockets 1
Diverse vegetation provides seasonal color and habitat for pollinators.
Shunshine Creek Restoration 3
Elevations are verified during construction to ensure compliance with the Floodplain Permit.
Shunshine Creek Restoration 1
Construction is underway with oversight from Steve Belz of Black Creek Hydrology.
Sunshine Creek 5
View upstream. Construction was completed by CAP Excavating from Lyons, Colorado.
Sunshine Creek Rock Work
Completed rock work along the lower part of the project reach. The terraced planting beds are ready for soil.
Sunshine Creek 4
Site preparation before rock work begins. August 2018.
Sunshine Creek 1
The channel was severely damaged during the 2013 flood.
Sunshine Creek 2
Pre-project condition in February 2016.
Sunshine Creek 3
Steep, undercut bank before restoration in April 2016.