The Cedar Cove reach of the Big Thompson River lies in a canyon pocket, where the steep, narrow upstream canyon walls open up and the valley flattens before constricting once again. During large flood events, such as in 1976 and more recently in 2013, this section of the river deposits and stores sediment and debris carried down from upstream, creating unpredictable changes to the river’s profile and water flow. During the 2013 flood, Cedar Cove experienced river avulsion and significant sediment deposition. The flood cut off access roads and severely damaged several homes in the reach. After the flood, the pre-flood channel was excavated to restore residential access and protect Highway 34. While these emergency repairs offered some short-term relief, they provided little long-term security and left the channel and floodplain in a degraded state. To increase resilience and further restore this section of river, this project rehabilitated 3,600 linear feet of the River corridor through a combination of channel grading, in-channel and bank stabilization features, and revegetation. The project was completed in 2017.
One of BTWC’s first Board members, Sharlynn Wamsley has been a long time resident of Cedar Cove. Sharlynn compiled a collection of stories told by survivors of the 1976 flood called Reflection on the River: The Big Thompson Canyon Flood.
During ConstructionPost-flood emergency repairs at Cedar Cove created a rock-lined, uniform channel that was isolated from its floodplain. This allows little opportunity for natural water absorption in future flood events as well as poor wildlife habitat.
project length: 3,600 linear feet of river enhanced
14 landowners participated
43 in-stream structures installed
830 linear feet of bioengineered banks
3160 willow and cottonwood plants installed
1512 native container plants installed
4.5 acres seeded with native plant mixes
This simulation, produced by Stantec, was created to help community members and the project technical team and partners visualize and plan for another 100 year flood event in the Cedar Cove area. This visualization shows a section of river that was restored by the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition, after the 2013 flood that caused major damage to the area’s ecology, infrastructure (including homes, roadways, and bridges), and communities.