One of the most important types of habitats on Earth, wetlands provide a home for many species of plants and animals, including insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals. They help clean water by filtering out pollutants and provide flood protection by acting as natural sponges, soaking up excess rainfall and snowmelt.
Before fill was added in the historical past, the small gravel parking lot just south of the Teens Inc. complex - known as Fisherman's Lot - likely once contained an intact, functional wetland ecosystem. Bound by Middle Boulder Creek to the south and North Beaver Creek to the north, Fisherman's Lot is currently an unvegetated dirt parking lot surrounded by upland pasture grasses and weeds.
The idea of creating wetlands at Fisherman's Lot was originally born from a collaboration between the Town of Nederland's Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) and local wetland ecologist, Rea Orthner of Peak Ecological Services LLC. Subsequently, SAB, the Nederland Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Advisory Board (PROSAB), and the Nederland Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to approve the proposed wetlands creation project.
The wetlands will be created by lowering the topography of the main part of the parking lot which is adjacent to both Middle Boulder Creek and Beaver Creek. The parking lot fill will be hauled away, the landscape lowered into zones of seasonally saturated soil, and then the site will be planted and seeded with wetland plants native to the region. The associated Concept Wetlands Mitigation and Monitoring Plan and Grading Plan contains many details on the proposed wetland mitigation.
Earthmoving is scheduled to begin in late May of 2023. The site may take one or two weeks to be fully constructed, and then seeding and planting will take place. Throughout the summer, the site will be visited, shrubs will be watered, noxious weeds pulled, and the site evaluated for any potential programs.
The site will be planted and seeded by Peak Ecological Services LLC along with the Teens Inc. Youth Corps, which will use the area as an outdoor classroom. In the beginning, the site may look like a big muddy hole in the ground. However, by the end of the first season it should be fairly green with the germinating seed mix and wetland planting. Vegetative growth will continue to increase and within a few years will be fully grown in.
Planting and seeding will include a variety of native wetlands graminoids, forbs, and shrubs. Some of these species include river birch (Betula occidentalis), shurbby cinquefoil (Pentaphylloides floribunda), cokecherry (Prunus virginiana), golden current (Ribes aureum), Woods' rose (Rosa woodsii), Drummond willow (Salix drummondiana), mountain willow (Salix monticola), whiplash willow (Salix lasiandra), as well as native sedges, rushes, grasses, and wildflowers.
In a unique and mutually beneficial public/private partnership, funding for the project is being provided by Eldora Mountain Resort. The resort is building a new structure on its own property, which will contain the new headquarters for Ignite Adaptive Sports, a Boulder County-based nonprofit organization with a mission to ignite personal growth, independence, and confidence in people with disabilities on the Front Range, and in surrounding mountain and Northern Colorado communities, by providing caring, safe, and fun adaptive winter snowsports opportunities.
As the new building will disturb existing wetlands at Eldora Mountain Resort, the resort is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Clean water Act to mitigate the disturbance by creating new wetlands of equal or greater acreage. When Rea Orthner of Peak Ecological Services LLC learned that Eldora needed to create wetlands to offset the impact of the new building, she presented the idea of using Fisherman's Lot to Eldora Mountain Resort, and the project came to life.
In preserving and enhancing mountain ecosystems and engaging both Ignite Adaptive Sports and Teens Inc, the Fisherman's Lot wetlands restoration project aligns with Eldora Mountain Resort's Play Forever commitment to sustainability, which includes protecting the environment and supporting the community. For more information on Eldora's Play Forever sustainability commitment, please visit the Play Forever section of Eldora's website.
With the creation of new wetland habitat at Fisherman's Lot, the Town of Nederland hopes to strengthen the ecological integrity of this unique area within its local watershed. For more information, please contact the Town of Nederland SAB, PROSAB, or BOT.