Fountain Creek flows 75 miles through three counties, including Pueblo County. Its watershed covers 927- square miles. The watershed has suffered significant damage from two forest fires that left burn scars that result in rapid stormwater runoff and resultant pollution. Yet “The Creek” provides irrigation water to farms and ranches in rural areas between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, is used as a recreation and fishing site, and provides habitat (although of decreased quality) for Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Red-winged & Brewer’s Blackbirds, Canada Geese, waterfowl (resident & in migration), Great Blue Heron, Common Grackle, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture, swallows, flycatchers, Little Brown & Brazilian Free-tail Bats, and others. It is an important cultural and recreational resource for the East Side of Pueblo, an identified environmental justice community based on low income and Hispanic/Latin ethnicity. The Creek suffers from neglect of maintenance, invasive species, soil erosion, and decreased habitat quality for birds and other wildlife, resulting in decreased value to its natural and human users.
The grant will focus on ¼ mile of the Fountain Creek Trail for cleanup, trail restoration, habitat restoration with native trees and plants for pollinators, and water quality monitoring. The grant partners will install a fishing line recycling bin on this stretch of trail along The Creek.
The partners will engage the East Side community in these activities, by involving elementary school children/parents/teachers from schools near The Creek to do basic water quality monitoring under the supervision of certified water samplers; as well as, the broader Pueblo community of birders and other nature lovers.