The Basalt River Restoration has been given an award by the Colorado Chapter of the American Society for Landscape Architects as a model project that enhances human interaction and connection to a riparian corridor. The Roaring Fork River bisects the mountain Town of Basalt, creating both opportunities and challenges for this Western Slope community. Working closely with in-house ecologists and an engineering consultant, DHM collaborated to bring stability to the river, allow for natural flood processes, repair the riparian habitat, and restore water systems.

“It’s great to see people playing, fishing and interacting with the river,” said DHM Design Principal, Laura Kirk. “Once heavily degraded, the site is now an amazing natural amenity that contributes to the overall health of the community and environment.”

In collaboration with the hydrologist (Matrix Design Group) , the team restored the riverbank and surrounding wetland areas with strategies that not only control flooding and erosion, but help to reestablish the ecological value of the riverine system. DHM worked closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to secure permits to remove the outdated levee, to adjust the river’s hydrology to prevent further erosion and to accommodate fluctuating levels of water and intermittent flooding.

A series of river edge cross-sections for various locations and slopes strike a balance between protection and a natural appearance, while satisfying federal and national regulations.
BEFORE & AFTER | Erosion Mitigation
The sheer energy of the water being driven into the banks was redirected by a series of jetties along the riverbank while allowing planting to the river's edge.

Native plantings stabilize the banks and return the river to a balanced ecological system.

In order to remove a section of the site from the floodplain, a number of wetlands were impacted. The Army Corps of Engineers assigned a high mitigation ratio for every acre of wetlands impacted.

It was a challenge to create the new wetlands within the project site, but this ultimately led to the creation of beautiful natural areas that provide educational opportunities

A series of accessible boardwalks link the Town core and adjacent developed parcels back to the river corridor.

“Walking along the river today, it feels like a piece of nature was given back to itself,” says Laura Kirk. “We were thrilled to be a part of this project that sets a course for better interaction between the Town and the river. This would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the Town of Basalt and the consultant team.”

DHM Design is an employee-owned planning and landscape architecture firm that provides a range of services, including landscape architecture, land planning, graphic design and environmental planning to clients nationwide. With a comprehensive ecological services division, they approach each new project with a grounded, site-based, and locally-focused perspective. With offices in Denver, Carbondale, Durango, CO and Bozeman, MT, they are able to draw on each other’s talents and skills to offer integrated, place-based design.

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