PPCTU volunteers began our now annual "Willow Planting" project to improve the habitat on the Dream Stream in May 2016.
Since then, PPCTU volunteers have harvested and planted nearly 30,000 willow cuttings along the Dream Stream portion of the South Platte River below Spinney Reservoir.
The Colorado Park and Wildlife department has been engineering a river habitat design to improve the way the South Platte River flows at the Dream Stream. As a young artificial tailwaters, the stream flowed out of Spinney at the dam in an uninterrupted straight chute. This created a wide, shallow channel with a uniform flow, which resulted in warmer water and little habitat for the trout to hide, reside or hunt. Willows provide many benefits to the stream environment. One of the benefits of the willow is the growth of a dense root system which aids in the stabilizing the soil along the stream edge. Willows also provide shade and natural foliage for aquatic insects.
CPW built structural obstacles along the river in this vicinity to deepen the artificial channel and and oxygenate the water. They built deep undercuts on the inside of bends and stabilized the banks with logs and submerged tree-root balls. The logs are suspended above the ground to provide an under banked lair for trout. The logs and trees are covered with mats of "slash" (wood chip debris), which is later covered with sod. The sod is then stabilized by planting willows. Over time, the river current will scour the bottom under these logs and maintain and improve the habitat.
Some of the trout captured by CPW for studies have shown the talon marks of raptors in the area. So, as trout move up and down this part of the South Platte River, the willows will also provide protecting from aerial predators.
See the photos below of our success!
If you would like to join us when we plant willows, we usually do this the 1st and 2nd weekend of May. Email Don Logelin at firstname.lastname@example.org.