the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation: pioneering new approaches to sustainable watershed management.

An Overview of the Clear Creek Watershed

Looking west toward the Clear Creek watershed from I-70/Genesee exit To say that the Clear Creek Watershed is unique is an understatement. It was home of the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush and is now home to several historic byways and districts with museums, tourist mines and landmarks. With a 14,000 foot mountain range as its western boundary and approximately 60 linear miles of mainstem river water, it hosts a variety of natural habitats and wildlife populations.

The watershed provides water to people for agriculture, industry, energy production and drinking. It offers plentiful year-round recreational opportunities—hiking, biking, skiing, rafting, fishing, climbing, camping, 4-wheeling and more. It also offers spas, shops, restaurants, train rides and casinos.

The world-renowned Henderson Mine, Colorado School of Mines, Coors Brewing Company and National Renewable Energy Laboratory are located here. As a major transportation corridor and Gateway to Western Colorado, Clear Creek Watershed is visited and traveled through by millions of people each year. Many diverse communities—mountain rural to urban to wildlands—call this watershed home.

Acid Mine Drainage in one of the watershed's tributariesA century and a half of human impact—including mining, irrigation, transportation, industrialization and urbanization—has had cumulative, negative impactson the mainstem and tributaries of Clear Creek. 11 of Clear Creek’s 21 segments are designated as water quality impaired by the State of Colorado. While numerous groups, agencies and individuals have been working to improve the quality of Clear Creek since the early 1980s, there is still progress to be made. As shown here, the water from the Aorta Seep is acidic and heavily metals-laden. This is a closed mine adit for which there is no Potentially Responsible Party (PRP).

Because the downward flow of water through a watershed carries with it the effects of nature and human activity, concern for a river’s health must include concern for the health of the entire watershed. The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF) believes that without a more sustainable approach to resource management in the overall watershed, future pressures will cause further degradation. Based on stakeholder input, the most imminent threats to the sustainability of the Clear Creek Watershed are:

  1. proposed Interstate 70 expansion
  2. potential large-scale wildfire
  3. metals loading
  4. sediment loading
  5. nutrient loading
  6. toxic spills/incidents
  7. growth/development
  8. drought

There are ample opportunities to mitigate these threats as part of our sustainable watershed management strategy.


Stream Flow Information

Got Flow? Click here for real-time Clear Creek water flow information

Images of Sustainability

  • Clear Creek as it runs through Clear Creek Canyon
    Clear Creek as it runs through Clear Creek Canyon
  • Maude Monroe/Donna Juanita Mine Site. Photo by Don Allen.
    The Maude Monroe/Donna Juanita Mine Site.
    Photo by Don Allen.
  • Rafting through Clear Creek Canyon. Photo courtesy Clear Creek Rafting
    Rafting through Clear Creek Canyon.
    Photo courtesy Clear Creek Rafting
  • Fishing in one of Clear Creek's Tributaries
    Fishing in Clear Creek
  • Torreys Peak, in the upper Clear Creek Watershed. Photo courtesy of 14ers.com
    Torreys Peak, in the upper Clear Creek Watershed.
    Photo courtesy of 14ers.com
  • The confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River in Denver
    The confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River in Denver
  • Coors Billboard
    Both Companies and People rely on the Clear Creek Watershed
  • Hiking in the Clear Creek Watershed
    Fourth-graders panning for gold.
  • Double-jacking at the Phoenix mine
    Double-jacking at the Phoenix mine

 

 

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