Spring is in the air! Can you smell it? There is so much to be grateful for, and excited about at the start of spring. Shy flora is starting to come out of their shells. Maybe you’ve seen some bugs and creatures crawling across the sidewalk, or some dogs playing in parks. But one thing we should all be grateful for as spring starts to come, is the systems and facilities that allow the city of Denver’s Department of Transportation (DOTI) to manage the stormwater that falls in the South Platte River Watershed.
In Denver, our spring tends to be full of snowstorms or precipitation events with a fast melt time, leaving high volumes of water stuck on our urban impermeable surfaces, and unless properly managed, sub-urban flooding and highly polluted water can threaten our cities and neighborhoods. Stormwater management is crucial in urban environments like the city of Denver because precipitation cannot naturally filter through soil systems like they would in natural environments. These impermeable surfaces create an environment in which precipitation accumulates pollutants that can adversely impact societal, ecological and city health/well-being. Furthermore, since stormwater goes directly back into the nearest body of water, the health of our rivers and streams can be negatively impacted by improperly managed stormwater. Therefore, the main purpose of stormwater management is to separate the pollutants from the water before reintroducing that water back into the natural systems (rivers, streams, etc.), while also controlling the direction and flow of stormwater - to prevent flooding or detrimental erosion events.
In urban areas, stormwater is most likely going to be contaminated by bacterial pollutants like E. Coli, which is caused by fecal matter entering waterways. As E.Coli levels have risen in the South Platte River in recent years, proper/effective stormwater management becomes even more crucial in order to conserve and restore the South Platte River, and all the species and urban/ecological systems that rely on the health of our River. However, fecal matter is not the only pollutant to be concerned with when it comes to stormwater contamination.
As stormwater flows across the surface, it can pick up and carry with it pollutants that could end up in our waterways - unless properly managed. This can be composed of fecal matter, as well as pesticides/insecticides/fertilizers, debris, sediments, and other things that can cause damage to environments. The city and county of Denver utilizes stormwater management techniques that are naturally inspired; like retention ponds, grassy swalls, and other types of buffers. As water quality and environmental sustainability becomes more of a necessity, Denver aims to utilize green infrastructure (GI) in the stormwater management plans moving forward.
In 2020, the city of Denver set forth 24 sustainability goals in 12 related areas, one of those areas being water quality. The goal is to make all rivers, lakes, and streams swimmable and fishable. In order to achieve this goal, stormwater management must continue to innovate and create sustainable ways of managing stormwater and all weather events. However, it is not all on DOTI to manage stormwater and improve water quality and health of our rivers and streams. Everyday actions and making environmentally conscious choices can help reduce the amount of pollution and debris that stormwater can collect throughout our city. Check out these infographics below to see other ways to support proper stormwater management and protect the beautiful South Platte River!
To kick off our 2022 winter sports events, our High School Greenway Leadership Corps started off by heading to Downtown Denver to go ice skating at Skyline Park. Everyone was wobbly at first, but we collectively decided that we‘d all at least try to skate. After many laps of holding onto the railing, Duilio (River Ranger intern) was skating around the rink like a pro! After a couple hours of fun, we decided to give back to our local parks (Fishback and Confluence park) by cleaning up trash while we headed back towards our vehicles.
Our February event was Snowboarding with Denver Parks and Rec at Ruby Hill Park. We started the day by getting all the necessary gear to have a successful snowboarding day. After getting all buckled into our boards, we slowly but surely made it down the hill, learning the basics from our DPR instructor. For those who wanted to up their skills a bit, our instructor took them up to a higher hill to practice more while the others continued practicing on the smaller hill.
Lastly, our March GLC was Snowshoeing with Denver Parks and Rec at Echo Lake Park! Once we got the chance to learn how to put on our snowshoes, we headed out to walk on and around the frozen lake. Because all of us were beginners at both snowshoeing and walking on frozen lakes.. our DPR instructors showed us exactly how safe it was by having us JUMP on the lake and look at the layers of ice underneath us. Afterwards, we hiked and raced each other in the snow! We got to experience some breathtaking views and even got to enjoy a nice warm cup of hot chocolate! It was a beautiful Colorado day, and we’re so thankful to DPR for providing us such awesome winter experiences!
The outdoor equity grant program (OEGP) is an exciting new opportunity for organizations that strive to increase the accessibility of the outdoors to underserved youth and communities, made possible by House Bill 21-1318, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), and the Colorado Lottery.
This grant is funded by the Colorado Lottery in hopes to protect our natural lands and create generations of environmental stewards. Check out the slide show below with more information, about the grant cycle!
If your interested in applying, or wanting to learn more about this exciting opportunity, check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife's OEGP page here, or connect with Lauren Truitt or Jared from Conservation Colorado with questions or requests for additional details. Applications are due April 8th! Lets support organizations that work to make Colorado outdoor spaces more equitable for all!
The SPREE team is so excited to announce our new staff of SPREE environmental educators for the year 2022!! Chompers, our beaver boss, worked hard the past few months to find and train our new educators, Jack, Jillian, Lexi, Sam, and Kim. The SPREE educators spent a week training with Chompers, learning all about our beautiful South Platte River, and studying the curriculum so we can teach young students of Denver about the river that connects us all. Here's some fun facts about our new educators and why they are excited to be a part of SPREE, but you can also find more information in their bio's on our staff page.