By Mike Dunn 

Stantec collects river data for restoration project


Mike Dunn

David Bidelspach, of Stantec, Inc. records river features Monday. Bidelspach was part of the team that floated the Upper North Platte River Monday from Treasure Island to the town of Saratoga public access. Bidelspach was looking for features that will impact the flow downstream.

Representatives of Stantec Inc., along with other Upper North Platte River interested parties, were on the river Monday to examine how the river upstream may effect Upper North Platte River Restoration project in Saratoga.

"We just want to get an idea of the sediment flow upstream that will be headed to Saratoga," Stantec engineer David Bidelspach said. "We also want to figure out the width of the channels upstream."

Bidelspach said he was looking for specific features upstream which will impact flow downstream. Some of these features include head-gates that provide irrigation using the river's water.

"When a head-gate is open, that means there is less water in that part of the river," Bidelspach said. "Sometimes the location puts the river at risk."

Other features include looking at sediment build up upstream and how that sediment gets pushed downstream.

"When you have these islands with large build up ... what it does, is that it pushes towards the opposite bank and causes erosion," Bidelspach said.

One of the issues Bidelspach said his company will have to take into account are rip-rap used to prevent flooding.

"The problem with those are that it prevents flooding in that one area, but water can still go around it," he said. Bidelspach added "abrupt changes" in the river's structure can cause other issues.

According to Bidelspach, the project is in the preliminary design stage. However, they are planning to collect more data and have a more complete plan at a later date.

The plan for the restoration project is to create a long-term solution to help mitigate flooding.

"Some think that you need to design the project for those '100-year floods'," Dave Rosgen of Wildlife Hydrology said. "We want to design it for the droughts and floods too."

Yet Stantec was not the only group with an interest in Monday's float trip. Christina Barrineau, an aquatic habitat with the Wyoming Game and Fish said her objective for the float trip was just being able to collaborate with others on the project.

"Mainly, my goal for (the float trip) was just to hear from the experts," she said.

Both Sally and Bill Patton, who are homeowners alongside the river, said they are thrilled to have some of the leaders in river restorations working on the river.

"I want to learn as much as I can from these people, so I can share it with others around town," Sally said.

Project manager for Trout Unlimited Jeff Streeter said there will be a meeting on May 14 to inform the public on the basics of river restoration.

"We are going to start defining some terms," Streeter said. "There will be no dumb questions."

Rosgen said the important thing to do now is to insure the public is aware of the project, and that the town and the contractors are all on the same page.

"What's important is that we come together and agree on an objective," he said. "It's important that we centralize our values and how we relate to objectives."


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