CAMPERS BECOME SPECIAL AGENTS, CLEAN UP THE RIVER
Campers at SPREE’s Adventures Outside summer day camps have been having fun while learning about the environment. In the first week, campers trained to become SPREE Force Special Agents, helping Chompers defeat evil villains to keep the River safe and clean! Here are a few highlights from the week:
We tested the water quality of the River and came up with ways to conserve water. We made wanted signs and traps for the Trash Monster and Evil Drip Drop. Campers defeated Energy Leech by making light switch covers that remind us to turn off lights (below).
We saw a demo of one of the City’s vacuum trucks, which is used to clean out storm drains (below). Campers did a trash pick-up on site and came up with ways to reuse trash.
This group got creative during story time: And of course, we had fun catching critters in the water!
REMEMBERING THE FLOOD. CELEBRATING THE RIVER
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the flood of 1965, The Greenway Foundation and Urban Drainage and Flood Control District hosted a tour of the South Platte River. The tour looked at the affects of the flood and scope of the destruction. Attendees began the tour at Confluence Park to talk through the reconstruction of Shoemaker Plaza.
Then the group hoped on the bus and moved to Overland Pond Park. There the new drop structure at Florida and South Platte River Drive along with the deepening of the pond was examined.
Next the group traveled to the newly renovated Johnson Habitat Park. Attendees explored this park alongside the SPREE Summer Camp that was taking place in the park as well.
Downstream at Weir Gulch Park the group examined the first of the RVIP projects to be completed. This park is located in the heart of Sun Valley. The project included exposing the gulch, a new playground and safe access down to the River.
Finally the group returned to Confluence Park and My Brother's Bar for refreshments on the River.
Take a look at these projects online!
More photos from the tour.
A RIVER ONCE DESCRIBED AS “A MILE WIDE AND AN INCH DEEP, TOO THIN TO PLOUGH, TOO THICK TO DRINK,” CAUSED DENVER’S LARGEST NATURAL DISASTER.
The week leading up to the Flood had extreme spring weather - hail, funnel clouds, severe thunderstorms and even a few tornadoes. However, at 1:30 pm, the metro area received 14 inches of rain in just 3 hours. The River water began to swell and break forth from its banks.
“Instead of the normal 300 cubic feet of water per second, or the 3,000 that we called exceptionally high…, the raging South Platte hit us with the astonishing flow of 150,000 cubic feet per second” (Shoemaker, 1981).
The River swept out into the city creating the largest natural disaster in Denver’s history. The flood inundated 250,000 acres of land and caused $540 million in damages. A wall of water 20 feet high was described.
The flood claimed 21 lives. 1,720 buildings in the city were destroyed or damaged.It caused $543 million in damages in Denver and $3 billion in the state of Colorado.
“By the time the flood was in the center of the city it had damaged every bridge in its path from the south, and the tide was gathering an increasing load of debris- trees, sides of buildings, entire mobile homes, telephone poles trailing wires, an armada of old and new automobile tires, operable and junked cars, entire lumber yards, fences, tanks loaded with the Lord knew what.” (Shoemaker, 1981)
For nine years the South Platte River continued to lay in waste. The River was ecologically dead, and it was said that you could hear the flow but not see the water through all of the trash. In 1974 Mayor Bill McNichols and State Senator Joe Shoemaker co-founded the Platte River Development Committee (PRDC) with Senator Shoemaker as the Chair. Charged with initializing the revitalization of the South Platte, the PRDC, which two years later became The Greenway Foundation, took on the monumental task of breathing life into a dead urban waterway.
Since then, over $130 million has been invested into the River, its parks and trails, taking the River from a virtually abandoned and forgotten open sewer to the vibrant, healthy, enhanced and engaged urban waterway that it is today. Over 100,000 linear feet of water quality, recreational and flood control improvements, over 100 acres of parks and natural area, and over 100 miles of multi-use recreation trails have been added to the South Platte River Greenway. This investment has created over $13 billion in related economic benefits to the people of Denver.
Today, the River is a destination spot. On any warm day of the summer you will find people cooling their feet in the water, bicyclists zooming along the trail, or fishermen waist deep in water. On June 27th and 28th 2015, over 15,000 people will convene at the Confluence Park, the birthplace of Denver, for the third annual Coors Light South Platte RiverFest. With free paddleboard lessons, kayaking, and live music, this festival is the epitome of the South Platte’s restoration.
The flood of 1965 was Denver’s largest natural disaster; however, from this turmoil blossomed Denver’s greatest natural resource, the South Platte River.
SUMMER DAY CAMPS IN FULL SWING
SPREE’s Adventures Outside Day Camp is in full swing and we are excited to have a talented team of new and returning summer staff.
Pictured above are the educators at the Johnson-Habitat Park location: Rachel, Kait, Amy, Meg, Aisha, Kate, and Ramsey.
Pictured below are the folks spending their summer teaching at the Cherry Creek Train location: Bailey, Bekky, Helen, Rachel, and Maggie (not pictured).
Continue reading for more about our great Summer Environmental Educators.
This is Aisha! This is her second summer working for The Greenway Foundation’s SPREE program and let me tell you, she loves it! She is currently a rising sophomore in college who is studying psychology. Her main goal is to start working with kids and then go back to school to get a Ph.D. She has a passion for helping others and loves working with kids!
Amy grew up hiking and camping around New Mexico. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology. She worked as an Environmental Educator with the North Carolina Aquariums until she moved to Denver and is looking forward to a great summer working with SPREE.
Bailey is a certified art teacher from Wisconsin. She has travelled across the United States and to other countries. Bailey loves exploring and learning about new places and is especially excited about spending the summer with SPREE.
Kait Bashford is a Colorado native who enjoys riding bikes, hiking with her two dogs and listening to music. She graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with Bachelor’s Degrees in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Kait can’t wait to spend her first summer with SPREE!
Maggie loves working with children and has been doing it one way or another since she stopped being a child herself. She is from Denver but attended Beloit College in Wisconsin where she studied Anthropology. During the school year she works with elementary students at the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School. This is her second summer working for SPREE.
Meg Mahoney graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Communication. She is excited to work with SPREE this summer and looks forward to catching crawdads with the students. Her favorite animals are otters, bats, and elephants.
Rachel is excited to be back at SPREE for her second summer! Originally from Pennsylvania, Rachel is happy to be spending her second Colorado summer on the river. She loves the outdoors, elephants, and candy!
We're all looking forward to a great summer ahead, hope you are too!
THE GREENWAY FOUNDATION AND DENVER TROUT UNLIMITED RECEIVE $50,000 GRANT FROM WELLS FARGO-NFWF TO SUPPORT THEIR SUSTAINABLE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER
The Greenway Foundation and Denver Trout Unlimited today received a $50,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program, funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), to support their Sustainable South Platte River Initiative.
Established in 2012, the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities five-year grant program has awarded $12 million to 207 grantees and funded 247 projects to date that promote conservation and environmental sustainability.
“Denver Trout Unlimited and the Greenway Foundation will work to transform current water use patterns along the South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir into a model for cooperative water use”, stated Jeff Shoemaker, Executive Director of The Greenway Foundation and Todd Fehr, Former President of Denver Trout Unlimited. “One of the direct benefits of this collaboratively based endeavor will be the ability to provide added urban ecological restoration of this section of the River within the Denver Metro Area. Without Wells Fargo’s support, this opportunity would not be able to move forward in this manner at this time”
“This environmental grant today is an investment in our local community and will provide much-needed funding aimed at protecting the environment for our local residents,” said Ashley Grosh, Vice President, Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs “We’re proud to collaborate with The Greenway Foundation and Denver Trout Unlimited to use our financial resources, as well as the expertise of our team members, to protect and preserve a more sustainable environment for communities we serve.”
As part of Wells Fargo’s $100 million philanthropy commitment to nonprofits and universities by 2020, a $15 million, five-year relationship with NFWF was created and launched in 2012 to promote environmental stewardship across the country. The goal of the Wells Fargo-NFWF grant partnership and program is to provide grants for highly impactful projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment. The program will fund proposals in select cities/regions (see website for full list) in the following areas:
The Greenway Foundation and Denver Trout Unlimited were selected from among more than 450 requests submitted by local team members and nonprofits Wells Fargo identified as being in need of extra help with green revitalization projects. In April 2012, Wells Fargo released a set of environmental commitments to be achieved by 2020; including reducing the company’s environmental impact, financing the transition to a greener economy and encouraging stronger and more sustainable communities. Part of this goal includes a $100 million environmental grants commitment by 2020 to create a “greener” future for the communities they serve.
Details of the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program and a link to the 2016 application (available in September 2015) can be found at the NFWF application website: www.nfwf.org/environmentalsolutions. Projects benefiting underserved communities and encouraging volunteerism are given priority consideration. The Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation to promote environmental stewardship across the country.
About Denver Trout Unlimited
The Denver Chapter of Trout Unlimited draws it support from the city's downtown and northern suburbs. We have a membership that is young and diverse in interests. DTU espouses and promotes the mission of Trout Unlimited to preserve, protect and restore North America's cold water fisheries and their watersheds.
This is Denver, Colorado and a river runs through it. DTU has adopted a long term goal to turn the Denver South Platte River into an asset for the city of Denver and its citizens. The objective is to restore aquatic and riparian habitat thus making the South Platte river in Denver a recreational fishing destination for residents and visitors and a refuge for fish and wildlife. The focus is on the river below the water line, the aquatic insects, the quality and quantity of water, the structures and bottom of the river and, of course the fish and other life forms in the water ecosystem
One of the current goals is to work on the mechanisms that can bring a minimum flow to the Denver South Platte so that the improved aquatic environments we helped create at Carson Nature Center, Grant Frontier/ Overland Park, and soon River Run Park in Sheridan are preserved during periods of low flow stress.
The world famous Denver Trout Unlimited Pro/Am Fly Fishing Carp Slam is our major fund raising event. Proceeds are used for improving the aquatic habitat of the Denver South Platte and sponsoring Trout-in-the-Classroom sites that connect youth to our river.
Please visit www.DenverTU.org for more information about the chapter’s work and upcoming events.
About Wells Fargo & Company
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.7 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,700 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 266,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2015 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.
IT'S OPEN! COME ON DOWN TO JOHNSON HABITAT PARK
As a former landfill dump site, Johnson Habitat Park has been born again. On June 1, 2015, Denver Parks and Recreation and The Greenway Foundation celebrated the renovation of Johnson Habitat Park, the first environmental education-focused park in Denver.
The celebration was lucky enough to have Mayor Michael B Hancock, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with students from Valverde Elementary and the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School (DDES) in attendance.
Johnson Habitat Park is a premier environmental education and play experience that includes an outdoor classroom, climbing platforms, rock sculptures, sand play and supervised camping for youth-focused programs through The Greenway Foundation. Today’s ceremony marks the completion of the second of five projects in the River Vision Implementation Plan (RVIP), encompassing over $25 million in planning, design or construction phases along the entire 10-mile area of the South Platte River.
Denver, in partnership with The Greenway Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is helping remake Grant Frontier, Overland, Vanderbilt and Johnson Habitat Park into wilderness-in-the city spaces. There will also be improvements made to three miles of the South Platte trail between and extending past the parks.
See more photos here!
Click here for a map to the park!