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Trust Our Land: Miller Ranch River Restoration Project

by Bergen Tjossem

The Miller Ranch River Restoration project last Thursday was a huge success. There was such a great turnout, in fact, that only one day was needed to complete the work. Thank you to the 28 amazing volunteers who came out to help protect and restore Miller Ranch Open Space!

The Issue:

Miller Ranch Open Space is a beautiful and easily accessible riverside area with a great trail system and river access. In recent years use has dramatically increased, resulting in damage to  a significant portion of the sensitive riparian area. Riparian habitat, a scientific term to describe riverside habitat, is critically important to local wildlife, for protection of the Eagle River system, and as well as maintaining clean drinking water. The social trails that have developed allow unfiltered runoff containing excess nutrients and sediment to enter the Eagle River, threatening the ecosystem’s ecological balance.

Eagle County Open Space, Eagle Valley Land Trust, and Eagle River Watershed Council teamed up on a river restoration project on August 23. Miller Ranch Open Space is protected through an important partnership between Eagle Valley Land Trust and Eagle County Open Space. Eagle County owns and manages the property, while Eagle Valley Land Trust holds a conservation easement for the property. A conservation easement is a legal document protecting the conservation values of a place forever. Eagle River Watershed Council brought their river restoration expertise to the project, which was a terrific example of collaboration in our community with each organization bringing their expertise and energy to the project.

The Project:

  1. Meadow and Wetland Preservation and Protection: We built wildlife-friendly fencing to protect sensitive habitat.
  2. Consolidate River Access and Restore River Banks: We identified appropriate, sustainable river access points and clearly marking them with signage. Additionally, we restored riverbanks with native vegetation and signage restricting access.

What Can I Do To Help?

Do you love Miller Ranch Open Space? Now is your chance to help preserve and protect this important place.

  1. Please lookout for new signage and fencing resulting from this project. Use the appropriate river access marked by signage and honor restoration areas. There will be signs clearly marking river access and signs marking restoration areas off-limits to people and dogs. Restoration is especially difficult in these hot dry conditions, so please give nature a chance to restore itself by staying out of restricted areas.
  2. If your dog joins you in Miller Ranch Open Space, please pick up after them. Not only does dog feces decrease the enjoyment of others in the Open Space, but bacteria from dog feces runs into the Eagle River causing water pollution and decline in fish populations and health. Additionally, please make sure your dog is obeying trail signage and staying out of closed areas.

If you have questions about this project, please reach out to Phil Kirkman with Eagle County Open Space (970) 328-8698 phillip.kirkman@eaglecounty.us, Jessica Foulis with Eagle Valley Land Trust (970) 748-7654 jfoulis@evlt.org, or Kate Isaacson with Eagle River Watershed Council (970) 827-5406 isaacson@erwc.org

Eagle Valley Land Trust conserves forever the lands we love, building a permanent legacy for future generations. Founded in 1981, the Land Trust is a nonprofit organization accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance. Conserved lands include Hardscrabble Ranch in Eagle, the West Avon Preserve in Avon and the East Vail waterfall in Vail

Categories: Trust Our Land,