Pikes Peak Erosion Control and Restoration Research Projects

The goal of our research on Pikes Peak is to assess the effectiveness of erosion control structures and restoration techniques implemented to mitigate environmental damage to streams and wetlands adjacent to the Pikes Peak Highway that have been impacted by decades of uncontrolled stormwater runoff.
Surveying water level in Severy basin

Erosion control and restoration projects were initiated by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) after the Sierra Club successfully settled a lawsuit against the City of Colorado Springs and the USDA Forest Service alleging violations of the Clean Water Act under Section 401 in the year 2000. Since that time, the City of Colorado Springs has been diligently working to address the stormwater runoff by paving the highway and constructing erosion control structures to reduce sediment and attenuate  storm water flow. Paving of the entire highway and placement of all erosion control structures were completed in 2012.

Since 2005, RMFI has completed six major projects within the North Crystal Creek, Ski Creek, Glen Cove Creek, and West Fork of Beaver Creek basins. The projects have resulted in over a mile and a half of stream channel restoration and stabilization and over 6.5 acres of restored forest lands.  Effectiveness monitoring is being completed on each project. Depending on the project type, the effectiveness monitoring is designed to meet the following objectives:

  • Assess the effectiveness of rock cross vane structures to provide grade control in high gradient, ephemeral first order streams.
  • Assess the effectiveness of vegetation treatments to restore degraded areas found in zones from the montane to the alpine.
  • Assess the effectiveness of restoration techniques to restore degraded wetland areas.

In addition to the effectiveness monitoring of projects, RMFI is also examining gully development and changes to gully morphology within the Severy Creek Basin to better inform our restoration practices within other basins on Pikes Peak.