L.A. Confidential: Ogden River Restoration Project

This post is “The best of times and the worst of times” for me.

How can you not be happy as a fly fisherman to see the city of Ogden and various players have come together to rebuild this urban river? On the other hand, even with the leverage and political will gaining for our river everyday, we have many, many miles to go before we sleep. To wit:

I want to LEGALLY fly fish our river.

I want to LEGALLY kayak in our river.

I want to LEGALLY walk along its banks.

If you know of other restoration projects that readers of this blog would enjoy, please e-mail me. And thanks to Fly Fishing Frenzy for getting the word out on this wonderful restoration project. Watch the video on the site below.

Below is the article taken from the Connect2utah.com site

The Ogden River runs right through the middle of the city. This river has had over 100 years of abuse and neglect and now the city and a host of others are doing something about it.

Andy Dufford of Chevo Studios has been chosen to create a public art piece in conjunction with the river restoration project. His proposal “Water Cycle” is a public plaza with seating and interactive sculptural elements located along the banks of the river. (Courtesy Ogden City Arts)

It was one year ago that Ogden City announced their plans for the Ogden River Restoration Project. The river from Gibson Avenue to Washington Boulevard was not a place you would find many fisherman, let alone families. Abandoned houses, litter and industrial waste kept most people from enjoying this river. But since last January a lot has changed.

“We found trash dated back to the 1870′s,” said engineer Crystal Young, Ogden River Restoration Project. “This is a good example of how the river has been filled by urban development in past practices. And so you can see all of this concrete and cars and trash has filled this native bank and buried these trees and built these banks up to where I’m standing now. All of this is going to be excavated down to the tree level and pulled back as you can see upstream in sections we’ve completed.”

The river bank and the riparian zone has been restored to its more natural state. Thousands of tons of debris has been removed.

They’ve taken out five to seven whole cars, about 14,000 tons of concrete, several car parts, thousands of tons of scrap metal, lots and lots of tires, about 250 cubic yards of shattered glass.

“Up near the brewery, it was a layer about six feet deep,” said Clint Ormond.

But this project is much more than just removing the garbage. Over four thousand tons of boulders have been placed on the river edge to stabilize the banks and put into the river to create habitat for fish. 40 thousand new plants will be planted and these storm water returns have been built to filter the cities storm drains.

“As the storm water drains in here, the plants and the pond itself will capture the garbage and the sediment from the streets. Keep a lot of the salt and oils captured in these ponds and keep it out of the river,” Clint said.

“We’ve tried to make aspects all along this project for everybody. We’ve got some great backdrops here. We’d like to see people playing in the river, fishing, taking pictures. We want to give a little piece of nature right in downtown,” Justin Anderson, Ogden City Engineer.

Fishermen say the restoration project is making a world of difference.

Lee Salazar has been fishing the Ogden river since he was a boy, “Not too bad. Shoot I’ll take them home and fillet them. My wife has been telling me go get me some fish.”

Lee says he’s seen rapid improvements.

“Two months ago, there was beat up houses that people had burned and it looks beautiful now. Compared to the way it used to look, I love it.”

The Ogden River has a good population of brown trout. But last fall, the DWR stocked this portion of the river with thousands of 10 to 12 inch rainbow trout and just last December.

The DWR released an additional 600 18-22 inch rainbow trout some pushing five pounds.

“We have been stocking for a number of years the upper reach of the Ogden River where there is better habitat than there was down here historically. But ever since Ogden City and the other partners have implemented this large scale restoration project there’s actually habitat here in the lower reaches,” said Ben Nadolski, DWR Aquatics Biologist.

“The difference is transformational Adam, it’s a night and day difference. It’s actually transforming a river back into a river,” Nadolski said.

“And those fish is what we want to promote. Hopefully someday we can even call this a Blue Ribbon Fisher. That would be a goal somewhere in the future where we can sustain that growth. We love this river and we are setting it up, it’s expensive, it’s costing a lot of money,” said Bob Geier, Ogden City River Coordinator.

Funding for the $5 million restoration project has come from, Ogden city, the DWR, the Utah Water Quality Board, Trout Unlimited and others. But they still need $1.5 million to complete the project and you can help. To donate, contact the United Way of Northern Utah and designate your donation to the Ogden River Restoration Project.

“The community deserves a place that they can connect with nature again and have a place where they can come and recreate in the outdoors,” said Crystal. “I just think it’s going to be the greatest community asset to Ogden.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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