Las Colonias river park has been blocked off with sandbags

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:50 PM MDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 11:46 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Due to low flows in the Colorado River, the River Park at Las Colonias has been blocked off with sand bags. The park is still open for use but water is more stagnant, creating a different experience for people who come out to enjoy the river.

The sandbags are placed just downstream of the Las Colonias boat ramp. When water levels in the Colorado river drop below 810 cubic feet per second, the River Park channel has to be be cut off from the main channel to protect the critical habitat in our river system. This happens in conditions of extreme drought, so that the water stays in the main channel.

“Our permitting that we needed to be able to build the river park requires us to dam the river to close off that river park channel anytime that the flows in the main stem of the river around the grand valley irrigation canal drop below 810 cfs,” said Grand Junction Parks & Recreation Director Ken Sherbenou. “So basically when the river drops too low, we can no longer divert water from the main stem into the river park channel.”

This is a condition of the city of grand junction’s permits and they need to stay in compliance of that to prevent the river park from being shut down completely.

“The river park is still open, it’s just a very different experience,” said Sherbenou. “You’re no longer able to float in an inner tube or stand up paddleboard or kayak. It’s more floating in the pools of water rather than moving water.”

The sandbags not only help divert the water during this drought, but also helps change the habitat for fish with the water levels being so low.

“The river park, it’s not only a recreational feature, it’s also very much to protect critical fish habitat,” said Sherbenou. “So one of the ways the river park does that is it helps remove the minimize the amount of habitat that’s available for invasive fish species like bass. And it helps protect fish habitat for endangered fish.”

Grand Junction Parks & Rec urges river users to not remove the sandbags. They say they will soon have educational signs around the area in the next two weeks to explain to the public why the sandbags are there. Grand Junction Parks & Rec estimate that the sandbags will be able to be removed next spring once we get some rainfall and the river levels rise.

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