An Improved River Runs Through It; Morad Park Restoration Nearly Done
The North Platte River doesn't run through Casper like it did earlier this year.
“Because we moved the river about 80 feet to the west and corrected some bank erosion issues, we have new riverbank in this stretch with a gravel pathway and five new wetlands," said Jolene Martinez, director for the Platte River Revival in-river construction project.
Construction on the project has ended for the year and will resume in the spring when additional vegetation will be planted and the boat ramp in Morad Park will be built, Martinez said in a prepared statement.
“We consider the work on these 1.2 miles of river to be an outstanding accomplishment,” said Jolene Martinez, project coordinator.
This work at Morad Park, along Wyoming Boulevard, and near the water treatment plant mark the first three of seven sites identified in the 2012 North Platte River Environmental Restoration Master Plan for in-river construction, Martinez said. “We plan to construct the rest of the sites by 2020.”
The construction included rock structures built in the river to direct water to the middle of the channel, woody debris structures built into the river banks to decrease erosion, and wetlands built to filter polluted storm water from storm drains, Martinez said.
The construction will abate bank erosion, improve water quality and habitat, and enhance development opportunities, she said. “Improving the river corridor ecosystem makes it more aesthetically pleasing, and more hospitable to birds, fish, wildlife, and people.”
The change requires time and patience.
“It will take about two growing seasons for all the vegetation to properly grow, she said. "We ask that people using the area respect the disturbed soil areas and avoid heavy use.”
Signs have been posted reminding people to not walk on the re-seeded areas. The boat ramp area will be fenced.
The change, however, already bears fruit with restored native plant diversity after the the removal of Russian olives and the possibility that one of the best fisheries in the world may extend from Grey Reef through the city's center, Martinez said.
The Platte River Revival is a collaboration of 21 private companies and organizations, nine government agencies, and thousands of volunteers. Lead by the City of Casper, it is focused on restoring or reviving nearly six of the 13.5 miles of the river flowing through the city.
The Revival's Volunteer Day occurs every September, and it is the largest National Public Lands Day event in the country.