The Fremont Conservation District received Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) Matching Grant funds in 2019 for the Dinkle Ditch Restoration Project in the amount of $23,750. This project is located in Coaldale, Colorado, and had several natural disaster events that led up to the restoration projects in the area.
The first event was a wildfire that began on July 8, 2016, burning approximately 16,000 acres and affecting the Hayden and Cottonwood creek watersheds. The flooding event on July 13, 2017 created post-fire flooding and debris flows which negatively impacted the watersheds and the Dinkle Ditch. The initial fire and flooding in the area had negative impacts on multiple stream channels, causing significant streambank erosion, channel instability and a disconnected flood plain.
On July 24, 2018, the area had another devastating flood which additionally damaged the Dinkle Ditch and Big Cottonwood Creek. Thirteen landowners along the ditch were impacted by not being able to use their irrigation water or wells efficiently. This flooding event and erosion had negative impacts on water quality by introducing heavy loads of sediments into Hayden and Cottonwood creeks as well as Dinkle Ditch.
There are three different funding sources being used to assist the landowners in the Hayden Pass area in restoration projects. The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funds, CSCB Matching Grant funds and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) EQIP Targeted Conservation Proposal (TCP) funds.
The Hayden Pass EWP (based on the July 13, 2017 event), sponsored by Fremont County, finished construction on that portion of the project on August 18, 2019. This project involved sediment and debris removal, stream bank and channel stabilization and critical area planting to re-establish vegetative cover. The engineering was done by OTAK (based out of Denver) and the construction was contracted to Frontier Environmental Services from Arvada. Construction began in early April 2019 with debris and sediment removal on both Little and Big Cottonwood Creeks. Channel shaping soon began on 500 linear feet of Little Cottonwood which was lined with rock to prevent head cutting and erosion. On the Big Cottonwood, a 1250 linear feet section of channel was armored with rock to include grade control structures to reduce the velocity of the water. The stream banks were laid back and flood plains opened up to provide capacity in the event of another flood event. The total construction cost of the project was $1,275,501.51, which was 90% of the costs and funded through NRCS. Fremont County received funding in the amount of $453,850 from the Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with $250,000 in grant funds from the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative and the Upper Arkansas River Conservancy District, which covered the remaining 10%. Fremont County also had matching in-kind labor for the project. The amount expended on engineering for the project was $290,573.39.
The CSCB Matching Grant funds (based on the July 24, 2018 event) were used to restore the Dinkle Ditch by installing 1826 feet of 8” PVC plastic pipe and 137 feet of 12” ADS HD pipe; one steel inlet structure for the 8” pipe; assisting with labor and material costs for a 14 foot steel diversion structure for the creek; stabilizing the stream bank along Cottonwood Creek and Dinkle Ditch; and, resetting a water measuring device that survived the flooding.
The NRCS TCP EQIP funds (based on the July 24, 2018 event) for this project are in the amount of $133,665.50 for irrigators on the Cottonwood and Hayden Creeks. Of this amount, $73,665.50 is being used specifically toward restoration on the Dinkle Ditch. These funds will be used to supplement additional materials not covered by the Matching Grant; contractor labor; re-seeding along the ditch and pond areas and re-establishing the augmentation pond for the ditch. The TCP funds will also be used to purchase gated pipe for individual landowner fields for better distribution and water efficiency. When this project is completed, the landowners along the Dinkle Ditch will be able to use their irrigation water efficiently beginning in Spring 2020.
Rob Fontaine, NRCS Engineer Technician, surveyed and planned the installation of all the irrigation pipe and structures. Brittany Pierce, District Conservation Technician for Fremont Conservation District, assisted Jeremy Buss, NRCS Soil Conservationist, in contacting and signing up landowners for the TCP EQIP applications, as well as planning any additional conservation work needed for this project. Mia Cory (who has since replaced Brittany) will also be working with Rob Fontaine and Jeremy Buss on this project through its completion, assisting with landowners and surveying for irrigation pipe.
The total grant funds expended for this entire project were $2,136,767.01, with $290,573.39 expended for engineering costs on the EWP project. Fremont County also had matching in-kind labor for the EWP project. Fourteen volunteers also assisted on the CSCB grant project for a total of 641.75 hours for a total in-kind dollar amount of $16,319.70.