Your Watershed / Lincoln Creek / 2022 Lincoln Creek Study

2022 Lincoln Creek Study

Lincoln Creek, in the upper Roaring Fork Watershed, faces numerous water quality and quantity challenges. The headwaters of the creek contain historic mining areas, including Ruby Mine, which are on the state list of abandoned mines. Ruby Mine historically produced silver, lead, zinc, copper, and manganese. Further downstream sits Grizzly Reservoir, where water diverted from the upper Roaring Fork River, Lincoln Creek, and numerous other tributaries, is collected and sent through a transmountain diversion to the Arkansas River Watershed.

In late summer 2021, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) documented a fish kill in Grizzly Reservoir and implemented follow-up water quality monitoring and fish surveys. Results showed numerous water quality impacts, particularly elevated dissolved copper concentrations. This, along with other observations, has caused concern that something has changed at Ruby Mine, potentially impacting Lincoln Creek and affecting aquatic life.

In response, a large collaborative formed to evaluate water quality conditions more thoroughly. The collaborative grew to include numerous government agencies and two non-profit organizations, with every partner providing their own area of expertise throughout the planning and monitoring process. Partners include:

  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety¬†
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Pitkin County Environmental Health
  • Roaring Fork Conservancy
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Geological Survey
  • United States Forest Service

In 2022, two intensive water quality and quantity surveys were conducted by the collaborative. Staff from nearly every agency worked together to conduct monitoring activities along Lincoln Creek from above Ruby Mine down to the confluence with, and including, the Roaring Fork River. A significant number of water quality constituents, flow measurements, and even soil samples were collected/measured during the field work. Automated samplers were also installed to continue documenting water quality conditions throughout  the winter.

The outcome of all this work is a huge array of data, which was released in a report from the Environmental Protection Agency in fall of 2023.

This partnership between multiple government agencies and RFC, highlights how the collaborative process can be implemented to successfully respond to stream health concerns, with the whole truly being greater than the sum of its parts.

Contact Us

Roaring Fork Conservancy

PHONE: (970) 927-1290

PO Box 3349
Basalt, CO 81621

22800 Two Rivers Road
Basalt, CO 81621

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