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Water: 5 Star Wetland Restoration & Grants

Five-Star Restoration Program Descriptions_EPA Region 8


Bolam Pass Wetlands Project
Southwest Colorado Youth Conservation Corps, Durango and Dolores, Colorado
EPA Region 8

Sixteen members of the Southwest Colorado Youth Conservation Corps (SCYCC) put the "wet" back in wetlands at a high mountain location near Durango during a one-week Five Star Restoration Partners Initiative project in August, 1998. Working in partnership with the USDA Forest Service's hydrologist team on the San Juan/Rio Grande National Forests and the San Juan Mountains Association (a national forest support group), the SCYCC repaired 1.5 acres of wetlands on Bolam Pass that faced a severe threat of drying out. The actual acreage treated protected a further 100 acres of wetlands surrounding a mountain lake.

Bolam Pass straddles the watershed divide between the Dolores and Animas Rivers at a 9,000 foot elevation. It is an area of high public use and interest. The flatter terrain in and adjacent to the Pass is a unique high-elevation wetland complex of bogs, open-water potholes, and channels interspersed with spruce forest and alpine shrublands. Water from the wetlands drains to the East Fork of the Dolores River where it provides habitat for a variety of fish species.

The Hermosa Park Road bisects the wetland. In several areas, the improper placement of culverts under this road has altered the drainage pattern through or between wetlands resulting in gullying, headcutting, and overly rapid drawdown of water. These conditions have seriously compromised the biological integrity of the affected wetlands.

Youth corps crews recruited from Dolores and Durango "spiked out" (camped) at the Pass for the week and fixed the drainage problem by building check dams along the water channels to slow the flow of water. The crews built check dams by digging perpendicular trenches through the channel, placing a 10-foot piece of filter cloth in the channel, and then filling the cloth with dirt and rocks. Corpsmembers then replaced dirt and grass on top of each filter cloth "burrito-style" check dam. This type of check dams mimics natural processes in the wetland.

Other partners included The Training Advantage (a nonprofit organization specializing in training for disadvantaged youth and adults), the Dolores School District/Town of Dolores, Durango School District 9-R, and the Native Plant Society. Matching funds came from the Berger Foundation through a grant from the Colorado Environmental Youth Corps Initiative.

EPA Grant Amount: $8,000
Matching Funds: $13,828
Contact: Andy Dey
Southwest Colorado Environmental Youth Conservation Corps
PO Box 2704
Durango, CO 81302
Ph: 970/259-1086 x.12
Fx: 970/259-2037

Laurie Gruell
San Juan Mountains Association
PO Box 2261
Durango, CO 81302
Ph: 970-385-1210
Fax: 970-385-1243

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