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Riparian Restoration

2 students exploring the Poudre River.

Poudre Learning Center Completes 60% Design Plan for Onsite Riparian Restoration

Poudre Learning Center

8313 West F Street

Greeley, Colorado 80631

Larry Rogstad, Land Manager



Poudre Learning Center Completes 

60% Design Plan for 

Onsite Riparian Restoration


Working with partners and interested community members, the Poudre Learning Center recently finished a detailed 60% design plan for riparian restoration of the Cache la Poudre floodplain. Intended to guide future reclamation efforts on the Poudre Learning Center (PLC), in west Greeley. Owned and operated by Greeley-Evans School District 6, the PLC is an InSTEM facility focused on leading students outdoors to share, learn and appreciate what nature has to offer. In operation for over 25 years, the Poudre Learning Center’s goal is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship in K-12 students through natural resources based educational activities.  An essential component in meeting PLC goals, is to skillfully manage our lands and water using best management practices to properly steward habitat!  The 60% plan is intended to guide PLC Foundation members and staff in making informed management decisions on future projects that improve function for the stream and riparian floodplain habitat at the PLC. While natural resources education is the PLC’s focus, as land managers for the 200+ acre campus, the PLC faces an enormous challenge in stewarding its riparian corridor and adjacent uplands using current science and best management practices.  Concomitantly PLC can achieve its primary educational goal by using our restoration projects as a teaching model for students and others who come to the PLC.


Through the years PLC and neighboring lands have experienced significant change, including: river channelization, intensive irrigated farming, petroleum production, and open pit gravel mining. Essentially the riparian system of pre-settlement days has been completely altered. As the Learning Center moves forward, land management goals should honor current science and be based on the highest and best use for long-term ecological sustainability. According to Larry Rogstad, the PLC Foundation’s Land Manager, “we can never return the land to what it once was. So, for our little piece of the Cache la Poudre Watershed stewardship and restoration of riparian and transitional habitat must be implemented to recover and improve stream function and riparian habitat quality, re-establishing the best potential function, stability and diversity under today’s existing environment. As we move forward in stewardship it is incumbent upon us to focus on natural resources education, using sound fundamental concepts of ecological reclamation and restorative agriculture as teaching tools for increasing student knowledge, and providing learning opportunities that may encourage students to find future career pathways in resource stewardship, and hopefully a fascinating and rewarding career in their futures.”  


Like other Eastern Plains Watersheds, the riparian corridor associated with the Lower Cache la Poudre is an excellent example of low-elevation cottonwood-willow riparian floodplains which are the most important habitat in the Southwestern United States in terms of wildlife diversity and abundance. Through the years, changing land uses along our plains rivers has significantly altered stream and riparian habitat, sediment transport, and stream function, adversely impacting habitat quality and ecological processes. To be effective in restoring habitat quality, land and stream management practices must follow nature’s needs. We’ve learned through many mistakes that time and again efforts “to harness the land” often fail, complicating and further damaging productivity, rather than resolving resource issues. Good stewardship seeks to understand natural limitations and constraints, guiding managers to work within science in applying best management practices in natural resources. Incorporating elements of this 60% Stream Plan in implementing future large and small projects on the Poudre Learning Center campus will help restore stream function including flows, sediment transport, stabilizing peak and low flow channels, and will help create a "broader shoulder” for the river during peak flows: reducing flood damage risk and ecological issues on the PLC and neighboring lands. Developed with the assistance of lead contractor, AloTerra Ecological Services, completion of the design to the 60% level affords flexibility to incorporate best management techniques as future projects on the PLC are taken on.   


Completing detailed design plans for resource stewardship is costly and time intensive. Development of the 60% riparian restoration design occurred in a charrette seeking input and alternatives from many sources. Several public meetings and work sessions were conducted, seeking input from the PLC Foundation, staff, partners and PLC supporters during a three-year effort as information was gathered, processed, and analyzed, leading to two alternative design concepts. From the two alternatives, a preferred plan was selected and polished until the final design was completed and adopted. The total cost of the project, including in-kind services, came in at approximately $200,000. On this project the PLC has been privileged to work with two strong funding partners, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and The Poudre Heritage Alliance, that provided financial and other resources to help complete the 60% Design.  


Within the State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s mission is to conserve, develop, protect, and manage Colorado’s water for current and future generations. Known as the CWCB, it is the State Agency charged with Implementation of the Colorado Water Plan, a comprehensive guidebook for managing, protecting and enhancing Colorado’s precious water resources. Among its many strategies, the Plan encourages development and use of best management practices in protecting and enhancing riparian habitat and promoting public education using current science-based water utilization as an essential element in protecting Colorado's future in water resources. Recognizing that the best decisions generally occur at the local level, the CWCB manages funding mechanisms to support and encourage local decision making and project implementation in resolving local water issues as a major Plan implementation goal. 


Working with the United States National Park Service, the Poudre Heritage Alliance formed in 2009 in concert with the Federal designation of the Cache la Poudre River as a National Heritage Area. With strong community support, the goal of the Poudre Heritage Alliance is working with local media and supporting educational and interpretation efforts to build a deeper understanding of the Poudre River’s national significance, including water development, water law and water management throughout the Watershed. Since its founding the Poudre Heritage Alliance and the PLC have worked closely in bringing the rich history of the watershed to our community and leading in habitat stewardship as a shared legacy. According to PLC Interim Director, Greg Cocking, “the Poudre Learning Center deeply appreciates the assistance of the Poudre Heritage Alliance, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the many private citizens that worked in harmony in bringing Poudre Learning Center’s 60% Riparian Design to completion! Now that the design is finished, we look forward to rolling up our PLC sleeves to steward and educate others in restoring the beauty of these lands and waters so essential to our community and beyond.” 



For further information contact:

Larry Rogstad, Land Manager

Poudre Learning Center

Phone: 970-666-0484


Poudre Heritage Alliance

4705 E Prospect Suite 205

Fort Collins, Co 80525

Phone 970-295-4851


Colorado Water Conservation Board

1313 Sherman Street, Room 78

Denver, Co. 80203

Phone: 303-866-3441


The Colorado Water Plan:

Under Colorado Department of Natural Resources,

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Query Search: Colorado Water Plan