U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Denver Projects Advance!

By Marjorie Price & David Howlett, Capitol Representatives

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Platte River and Tributaries, Adams and Denver Counties, Colorado Project (Denver SPRT), and the Southern Platte Valley Sec. 113  Continuing Authorities Project (Denver SPV1135) continue to make significant progress!

      The 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020, successfully ending a 14-month effort to obtain congressional authorization of the Denver SPRT. The Denver SPRT has been authorized as a dual flood risk management and ecosystem restoration project at a total estimated cost of $550,273,000, including the federal share of $344,076,000 and the non-federal local share of $206,197,000. 

      The authorization was the first significant next step forward for the Denver SPRT towards the longstanding goal involving the actual implementation of this equally significant project. The next step involves The Greenway Foundation team (TGF) continuing to work with the City and County of Denver (City) and the USACE to obtain initial funding for Pre-Construction Engineering and Design (PED) of the Denver SPRT. The shared goal between all of the involved parties is to have funding for the Denver SPRT included in the recently signed Omnibus Appropriations legislation.

The Denver SPRT Project includes three project elements:


  • 6.5-mile project reach from West 6th Avenue to West 58th Avenue

  • Weir Gulch from the South Platte River and Weir Gulch confluence to just west of South Sheridan Boulevard

  • Harvard Gulch from the South Platte River and Harvard Gulch confluence to South Colorado Boulevard

     The second USACE project, the Denver SPV1135 Project, is located along the South Platte River (SPR) in Denver between West Yale Avenue, downstream 2+miles to West Mississippi Avenue - an ecosystem restoration project with an estimated total cost of $12,397,000. The Project received funding in federal Fiscal Year 2020 that, with local match, fully funds the design phase of this project. At least one subproject could be ready for construction as soon as late 2021.

     Federal requests for construction funding are already gaining USACE and Colorado congressional delegation support. The Denver SPV1135 Project will provide both river channel improvements as well as enhancements to the west bank of the SPR throughout the reach of the project area.

    TGF is excited to continue this longstanding and partnered effort to bring, yet again, additional environmental and flood protection opportunities for our River and its tributaries!

Construction of Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project Completed

By Marjorie Price & David Howlett, Capitol Representatives

    USACE’s statement sums up the changes to Chatfield State Park very well:  Modifications to state park amenities include the floating marina, boat ramps, the swim beach, bike trails, parking lots, tree thinning, and forest floor clean up on walking trails. Onsite environmental mitigation included restoring Plum Creek and the South Platte River, two of the reservoir’s primary tributaries, to control erosion and improve habitat. The Project also includes a dedicated “environmental pool”, which will provide stream flow through the metro reach of the South Platte River, during historically drier times of the year.

    All funding for the improvements was provided by the water user agencies who will use the additional water storage capacity in wet years. 

    The new facilities at Chatfield State Park were a big hit in 2020. More than 2.29 million visitors entered the park according to the Park’s Manager, Kris Wahlers, by the end of November, 2020.

    The successful completion and final approvals of the construction of recreational modification and environmental mitigation projects came about through the support of a strong coalition of federal, state, and local partners. The unwavering support of Colorado’s congressional delegation, the State of Colorado, Douglas County, the Chatfield Reallocation Mitigation Company (CRMC) water providers, and nonprofit organizations, including, obviously, The Greenway Foundation, was integral to reaching full project implementation. CRMC also recognized all the contractors, engineers, consultants, and technical advisors whose expertise and extraordinary dedication ensured all project requirements were achieved in 2020.

For additional information on the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project, please visit Chatfield State Park’s website.

    The Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project received final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2020. It was announced on May 13, 2020 and grants the project participants the right to store water in the new 20,600-acre-foot reallocation pool. The USACE has determined that “all recreation modifications, compensatory mitigation features, real estate interests, and ‘other modifications’ to the project . . . have been satisfactorily completed.”

New South Platte River Planning Initiative Underway in Adams County

By Marjorie Price & David Howlett, Capitol Representatives

    Thanks to the vision and leadership of the Mile High Flood District, Adams County and the cities of Brighton, Commerce City and Thornton, along with the engagement of The Greenway Foundation, a new initiative, known as the Adams County South Platte River Vision and Implementation Plan (Implementation Plan), is underway to update the 1997 Adams County South Platte River Heritage Plan (Heritage Plan).    

    The 2020-21 Implementation Plan will be a once-in-a-generation collaborative effort, involving all of the stakeholders listed above, to initiate a fully-implementable vision for the 17 miles of the South Platte River (River) running through Adams County, resulting in a cohesive and interconnected open space system and bicycle transportation network throughout this remarkable section of the River.  

    Each and every one of the partners in this exciting endeavor, including The Greenway Foundation, is fully committed to improving the overall ecosystem restoration, mitigate flood hazards, and advancing recreational and accessibility-based opportunities for the River, thereby also maximizing adjacent economic opportunities alongside this priceless waterway.  The Implementation Plan will allow the River to become more accessible to the public and, as such, will improve the quality of life for all adjacent residents and communities.

Fountain Creek Watershed Vision & Implementation Plan

By Chris Leiber

    The Greenway Foundation and NES Inc. are pleased to announce the initiation of an Implementable Action Plan for significant and needed enhancements for the Fountain Creek Watershed in Downtown Colorado Springs. The effort is made possible by a grant from Lyda Hill Philanthropies


    The current redevelopment in downtown Colorado Springs, the decommissioning of the Drake Power Plant, the need for investments for stormwater, and the numerous recreational and environmental benefits that can be brought to this urban waterway, collectively serve as catalysts for the increased health benefits and economic development opportunities for the Colorado Springs community.  All these changes support the establishment of the Fountain Creek Watershed Vision and Implementation Plan (FCWVIP) for 2021. The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities will be the recipients of the plan and engaged with its development along with other entities.  The plan will be available publicly. Plan implementation will include the City, Utilities, and other entities depending on projects identified and funding requirements. 

    In founding Colorado Springs 150 years ago at the confluence of Fountain Creek and Monument Creek and the gifting of Monument Valley Park to the City in 1907, General William Jackson Palmer recognized the importance of this invaluable watershed as a resource for the community.  The FCWVIP will build upon General Palmer’s legacy with a comprehensive vision for future investments and stewardship with specific focus on segments of Monument and Fountain Creeks adjacent to Downtown Colorado Springs and the Legacy Loop.  


    A primary goal of the FCWVIP will be the creation of a Plan that respects the Colorado Springs community’s values and history, responds to infrastructure needs, improves the health of riparian ecosystems, enhances parks, trails and open spaces, and leverages economic development opportunities.  Over the past several decades, numerous plans and individual projects have been identified along the watershed by local agencies and organizations who are vested in the future of the watershed.  The FCWVIP will build upon these past planning efforts and identify specific priority projects for actual implementation.

   The creation of the FCWVIP will be co-led by Jeff Shoemaker with The Greenway Foundation (TGF) and Chris Lieber with N.E.S. Inc.  As Executive Director at TGF since 1982, under Shoemaker’s leadership, TGF has been involved in the creation of over $500 million of environmental and recreational enhancements to the South Platte River watershed in the metro Denver area, just one aspect of TGF’s 47-year mission to “Revitalize Rivers and Reconnect Communities”.

   As Principal at N.E.S. Inc. and former Manager of the City’s Trails, Open Space and Parks Program, Lieber brings 29 years of local experience leading high-profile public and private projects across the Colorado Springs community resulting in great places to live, work, and play.  Additional team consultants with extensive watershed experience include Wenk Associates, Capitol Representatives, ECI Site Construction Management, and Windflower Design.  Overall project direction will be provided by the Project Management Team of Dolly Wong Kast, Jan Martin, and Pam Shockley-Zalabak, representing Lyda Hill Philanthropies.  


The planning process is anticipated to span 12 months and will engage key stakeholders within the Colorado Springs community.  Opportunities for public participation and comment will occur in late spring and summer. 


The Fountain Creek Watershed Vision and Implementation Plan is funded privately by Lyda Hill Philanthropies. 

Heron Pond/Carpio-Sanguinette Master Plan

By Cinceré Eades, Parks Resiliency Principal Planner, Denver Parks & Recreation

    Denver Parks and Recreation completed the Heron Pond/Carpio-Sanguinette Master Plan in 2017 and quickly began developing the park design. The park improvements encompass the full 80-acre open space, including the South Platte River. A regional water quality basin is seamlessly integrated in the park design to not only improve water quality but create new riparian habitat . Additional park amenities include a pollinator inspired regional playground, walking trails, river access, nature overlooks, and environmental education nodes. 


    With the design phase near completion, the first phase of construction will begin early 2021. Partnerships groups include Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Adams County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Arkins Park & Promenade

By Gordon Robertson, Denver Parks and Recreation

   This past August, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, city officials, and community partners celebrated the opening of Arkins Park and the groundbreaking of phase one of the Promenade.


   The new 3.5-acre park, located along the South Platte River on Arkins Court between 35th Street and 33rd Street, is the first green space in an area that historically has been occupied by warehouses, rail, and manufacturing industries. The park will be a recreational focal point for the community, create an amenity throughout the area, and a key entry point to the South Platte River. 

   The new park includes seating, performance areas, flexible event space, creative play areas, public art, and stormwater gardens. It also features two buildings that are being repurposed and activated by the River North Art District to provide engaging art programming where the community can gather for culture and entertainment.  In addition, Festival Street was constructed with the park project and provides parallel parking for park use. Festival St. will connect to future 33rd St. and Brighton Blvd. by the adjacent developer in the future.

   The Promenade, which is anticipated to be completed in 2021, will run between 29th and 38th Streets and will serve as a linear park providing a place for leisure, outdoor recreation, connection to the river, and flexible festival space that will complement the park. 

Phase one of the Promenade will convert Arkins Court, from 35th to 38th Avenues, into a new linear park that provides enhanced access to South Platte River. Improvements will include park amenities such as a pavilion and an elevated walkway along the river, enhanced paving, public art, a small play area, seating areas, shade and landscaping. 

    DPR, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a $1 million lottery grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), purchased the property as a key component of the River Vision Improvement Plan led by DPR and the Greenway Foundation to expand parkland to a developing area of Denver that was lacking public open space. DPR and the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative (NDCC) advocated for funds to design and build the park and engaged the community to provide a vision for their neighborhood park.


   Community involvement reflected the desire to retain and repurpose the existing buildings into plazas and collaborative work spaces and provide innovative programs within the Denver Parks system. DPR entered into a partnership with RiNo Art District to support programming and to help manage the buildings. Current program plans call for an artist maker space, artist-in-residence spaces, library, restaurant, and coffee shop. Construction simultaneously started for River North Park, Festival Street and Phase One Building Renovation in spring 2019 totaling over $6 million in improvements.