Wetlands are being expanded at the Carpenter Natural Area thanks to a partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the city of Cortez.
As part of CDOT’s wetlands mitigation requirements for road work on U.S. Highway 491, more wetland habitat will be installed on the west end of the Carpenter Natural Area.
“As a result, we get wetland mitigation credit for future work planned in the Geer Natural Area,” said Cortez recreation director Dean Palmquist.
When a new trail is installed around the lake in nearby Geer Park, some wetlands will be disturbed, and the CDOT wetland expansion in Carpenter will count for mitigation, he said.
The work is expected to continue into October. Trail users will notice construction equipment and minor trail detours.
The lower Revolution mountain bike trail will be temporarily closed during construction. Alternate access is available via the upper hiking trail off the paved Carpenter path. The Carpenter Trail will remain open during construction.
CDOT contractors are grading two separate areas adjacent to existing wetlands — one on the south side of the west end of the Carpenter trailhead, and another toward the north of the trailhead.
Topsoil will be added, and the area will be planted with willow shrubs and seeded with native plants. Erosion control will be done, and non-native vegetation will be removed.
Construction fencing will be installed to protect the area and aid in plant establishment. The new wetland areas will be monitored maintained over the next several years until established. The environmental improvement project is being funded by CDOT.
“The project will enhance the aesthetics of the area and add to the wildlife sanctuary of the Carpenter area,” Palmquist said.