North Fork at Drake

Project Description

This project is located at the confluence of the North Fork and main stem of the Big Thompson River near the Town of Drake. The 2013 flood event produced large deposits of sediment and debris which completely blocked the US 34 bridge, and damaged private and public infrastructure from roadways to hotels, homes, and campgrounds. Restoring immediate access to this confluence of roads and waterways was a top priority after the flood, but emergency measures executed without a holistic vision left the reach severely degraded and in need of significant additional investment to repair. The North Fork Project consisted of sediment and debris removal to improve capacity of the river to accommodate higher flows; streambank stabilization and sediment redirection using innovative bioengineering techniques (engineering with rock and logs) along riverbanks, beds, and floodplain; and river habitat enhancement through native plant revegetation and habitat complexity installation. This project was completed in 2017 after an expedited construction timeline of just 87 days!

Fun Fact

Such a large amount of sediment was deposited near the confluence of the North Fork and the Big Thompson River during the flood that a truck was nearly buried and some buildings were filled with sediment. Although this area was heavily impacted by the flood, it was used as a critical helicopter evacuation site for Drake communities.

Project Photos

North Fork Post-Flood

Before (winter 2013)

North Fork of the Big Thompson river just after the 2013 flood event show large deposits of sediment and debris carried from downstream and deposited on the bank shores of this site.

After (Summer 2017)

Post-construction photo of the same vantage point show successful growth of vegetation to the water’s edge with new river bed and bank contours that provide bank stability, reduce erosion, and sustain diverse aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat.

North Fork Today

North Fork

Project Accomplishments

project length: 2,100 linear feet

1,150 linear feet of overflow channels and berms

5 in-stream structures

2,500 linear feet of bioengineered streambanks

3,636 willow and cottonwood live stakes planted

899 container plants

3,000 cubic yards of sediment removed