LONGMONT - Significant progress has been made since the city of Longmont began Phase 1 of the Resilient St. Vrain Project in February.
Crews are in the process of widening the 8-mile stretch of St. Vrain Creek that runs through Longmont and changing its path to mitigate the potential for flooding, city officials said.
However, the project may be putting something else the city values at risk: trees.
Some trees are literally standing in the way of flood prevention, says David Bell, the Natural Resources Manager with the city of Longmont.
"Every tree left in the creek slows down water and has the potential to cause snags during a flood event," Bell said.
According to the city, $200,000 worth of trees were removed from the construction area so far. Officials did not know the number of trees removed but say the number will go up as the project continues to move upstream. By the end of the project, Longmont expect to remove $1.2 million worth of trees along St. Vrain.
For every tree removed, officials hope to plant another in a different part of the city. The scenery surrounding St. Vrain Creek may look different by the time the project is complete but the city hopes to maintain its tree count.
While the number of trees being removed is unknown, the city says it has identified 40 trees in the construction area of Phase 1 that will not be removed. Some of those trees are in the future location of the Dickens Park Nature Area off Ken Pratt Boulevard & Martin Street. Planning for the nature area began before 2013.
Resilient St. Vrain is Longmont's extensive, multi-year project to fully restore the St. Vrain Greenway trails and improve the St. Vrain Creek channel to protect people and property from future flooding. The project developed after Longmont experienced catastrophic flooding in September 2013.
Phase 1 began with the replacing of the Main Street Bridge. Creek work in the Dickens Farm Nature Area off Ken Pratt Boulevard and Martin Street is expected to be completed by spring of 2018, city officials said.
The entirety of Resilient St. Vrain is expected to cost between $120 to $140 million dollars, the project's website says.
The city is still seeking funding for the final portion of the project which involves mitigation work from Sunset Street to Airport Road.
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