October 15, 2014

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado–The State of Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety recently honored construction materials supply and services company United Companies as an honorable mention winner for the prestigious Jack Starner Memorial Reclamation Award. The company’s innovative reclamation efforts along the Colorado River created a more stable river bank that is also a viable habitat for aquatic life.

Undue flooding in 2011 caused a former gravel pit to become centered into the main channel of the Colorado River. The excessive volumes of gravel caused the river to be braided with extreme channel migrations that posed threats to homes and businesses near the river.

The simplest solution was to remove the excess gravel from the river and find a common sense approach that benefits both the industry and environment, says Pete Siegmund, United Companies environmental vice president.We implemented stream restoration techniques to repair damage caused by the floods and to protect existing stream banks and property.

United Companies removed over 100,000 tons of excess gravel from the main river channel to achieve a channel capable of transporting water and the sediment load. The company installed rock structures to roll the water flow away from the river bank and created a wall of wood to stabilize the banks and create an environment ideal for fish habitat. Soil, trees and sod mats were placed on top of the wall of wood.

Results of the reclamation process show that the reconstructed river bank is stable with the main channel capable of handling the water flow. The former gravel pit is now a back water area. According to Rick Kruger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the back water area provides valuable aquatic habitat especially for small fish to grow and develop. Consideration should be given to using gravel pits along the river to enhance aquatic life.

The Jack Starner Memorial Reclamation award is presented annually to honor the best reclamation efforts in the state that enhance the habitat of aggregate/construction materials operations and further the industry’s knowledge about successful reclamation techniques.