Re-Greening Efforts Along the Platteby
Ken A. MacKenzie
Engineering Inspector, South Platte River Program
The last phase of a typical restoration project is the revegetation of the disturbed area. Three factors greatly influence the success of this effort:
For the most part, all three factors came together in 1997 for a year of very successful project revegetation.
One such success was the revegetation project upstream of 88th Ave. The east bank from 78th Ave. to 88th Ave. was the site of an early 1990s flood control project constructed in partnership with the City of Thornton. The previous revegetation efforts for most of this project were only marginally successful, and in 1997 we returned to the site in an attempt to establish a more diverse and better vegetative cover. With MDG, Inc. as the revegetation consultant, and Western States Reclamation as the contractor, we had great success in re-establishing native grasses, sandbar willows, rabbitbrush, and cottonwoods along this bank. A large effort was also put into the establishment of wildflower beds, however, the success of this effort may not be known for 3-4 years.
Other success stories include the west bank restoration project at 160th Ave., and the Rogers Co-op project on the west bank at 168th Ave. (Baseline Rd.). We enjoyed tremendous first year success at both locations with the sandbar willow stakings, and the native grass/wildflower mix. Also, at these locations we tried an experimental tree/shrub planting technique of grouping riparian species (plains cottonwoods, narrow leaf cottonwoods, hawthorns, etc.) and dryland species (sage, rabbitbrush, chokecherries, etc.) into planting "pods". This method proved very successful with the riparian species, and moderately successful with the dryland species.
As a follow-up to the 1996 sanitary sewer buttressing project downstream of C-470 in Littleton, we worked with the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District to plant over 100 native trees and shrubs along the west bank in the immediate area of that project, which is inside South Platte Park. This was a barren area that now has the beginnings of a new riparian cover in this beautiful stretch of the river.