South Platte River project about to start

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Tentative plans call for equipment to begin moving into place later this month so work can begin on improving a section of the South Platte River south of the Carson Nature Center.

“We finally have the long-awaited approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for this project so I expect, weather permitting, for work to begin before the end of January,” Debbie Brinkman, Littleton mayor and chair of the South Platte Working Group II, said during the Jan. 10 Tri Cities meeting. “Equipment will move in to deepen the channel, create ripple pools and calming ponds for the fish and clean up the silt choking off Red Tail Lake from the river.”

The upcoming river improvements will be the latest in projects that have been spearheaded by the South Platte Working Group.

Susan Beckman, then Arapahoe County Commissioner, was the moving force behind forming the group in 2006. The group planned to work on improving recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat along the South Platte River through Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan.

In about five years, the group secured $25 million in grants, including a $5 million Legacy Grant from Great Outdoor Colorado, and used the money to complete more than 20 projects. The projects included everything from building five bike/pedestrian bridges across the river to enhance connection with existing hiking and biking trails to acquiring about 40 acres of land to preserve green space along the banks of the river.

In late 2012, with the grant money spent and planned projects improving parks and recreational amenities along the river completed, South Platte Working Group I “retired.”

But, almost immediately, the South Platte Working Group II was established. Brinkman, who was a member of the original group, helped get the second group going. It has received a $5 million Arapahoe County Open Space grant to continue to make improvements and enhancements to areas in and around the river.

As with the original group, the membership of South Platte Working Group 2 is made up of representatives including Littleton, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Sheridan, South Suburban Parks and Recreation and utilities like Urban Drainage and Control District. They work together to plan projects and pool resources to make the projects happen.

Tentative plans are to continue to improve the riverbanks and channel as well as river access north from South Platte Park through Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan.

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