12 months in the Meadow Creek wetlands, Frisco, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY — I live on Lagoon Drive in Frisco, Colorado, right along the banks of Meadow Creek, one of the smaller local tributaries that flows down out of the Eagles Nest Wilderness. If you’ve ever hiked the Lily Pad Lake trail, then you’ve seen the little stream as it wends through quiet aspen groves and tumbles down over boulders in the dense lodgepole pine stands on the lower flanks of the Gore Range. Meadow Creek may be small, but it’s more or less an intact stream, with no major diversions that I’ve able to find. There are definitely some historic agricultural diversions, though they seem to be inactive most of the year. I’m pretty sure there may be a diversion that leads over to the Giberson Ranch, but most of the water ends up flowing through Frisco and into the pond that’s part of the Lagoon townhome complex before it nourishes a broad swath of wetlands along the shore of Dillon Reservoir.
What has always amazed me is how well the stream functions, despite the fact that it’s almost completely channelized along it’s passage through town. The channelization starts quite near the Lily Pad Lake trailhead, where it flows into a pipe to go beneath I-70. Then it spreads out again to irrigate the big patch of willows behind Safeway and Wal-Mart before it’s captured again to create park area around Meadow Creek Pond (right behind Wal-mart). From there, it flows through a series of aqueducts through (or beneath) the commercial/light industrial zone along Ten Mile Boulevard, near Meadow Creek Tires and Alpine Bank before it finally flows out on to Denver Water land just below the Lagoon neighborhood, filling several acres of marshes and ponds that provide rich habitat for birds, small mammals and young fish. View the slideshow after the break to see the wetlands change throughout the year.
Meadow Creek wetlands – slideshow