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Jackass Gulch restoration project wraps up

Erosion control to help protect nearby houses

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The first of what may prove to be several erosion control projects is wrapping up along Jackass Gulch in southwest Littleton, in an effort to keep collapsing creek banks from encroaching on nearby homes.

Jackass Gulch rises just northwest of where Mineral Avenue intersects the High Line Canal, and flows into the South Platte River about a mile west. Homes, mostly of mid-1990s vintage, now flank much of its length, and recent years have seen the gulch deepen, with its crumbling banks creeping toward the houses on the hill above.

The City of Littleton partnered with the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District — a special district that works on projects along the Denver metro area's waterways — to carve away at the banks and install a wide saddle composed of large boulders just south of where Jamison Way turns north.

The saddle consists of boulders grouted together, and incorporates small waterfall-like spillways. The site is on private property, and is not open to the public, though it does run adjacent to a spur of the High Line Canal Trail

The project kicked off in 2014 and cost around $800,000, split half-and-half between Littleton and the UDFCD, which is funded through property taxes. Construction started last November, with the final heavy work wrapping up in mid-April. Crews still have work to do planting trees — mostly native cottonwoods and willows, which can take advantage of subterranean water along the gulch.

Residents can expect similar projects in coming years, said Carolyn Roan, the city's water resources manager.

“This is an initial phase in a large multiphase effort because the gulch is still eroding,” Roan said. “There are a lot of sections, mostly upstream, wearing away. It's hard to say where we'll go next because in any year a really big flow event could change priorities.”

The timing of the construction worked out nicely for revegetating the area, said Richard Borchardt, a project manager with UDFCD who helped oversee the project.

“The revegetation crew will be out there until May,” Borchardt said. “We'll be putting in erosion control blankets and reseed the hillside. We're glad to do the work now because we can take best advantage of the growing season.”

Overall, the project was a success, said Jeron Siegert, a project manager with ECI Site Construction, which was contracted to do much of the work.

“Hey, we were on time and in budget, so I'm happy,” Siegert said.

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