Arkansas River

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

A lot of dirt needs to get moved to repair the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo, and plans for the repairs are changing so that dirt can be put to use on other projects. Those changes may affect efforts to preserve historic sections of the murals painted on the levee.
 

Originally plans called for reducing the height of the levee by 12 feet in phases, but now other projects can use the dirt quicker than first thought. Pueblo Conservancy District consulting engineer Kim Kock said that means they need to keep moving forward.

Work on the first phase of rebuilding the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is complete, and the conservancy district that oversees the levee is starting to at potential recreational opportunities as they plan the rest of the repairs.
 

In addition to a new pedestrian walkway on the top of the levee, the district is considering adding footbridges across the river, more access points and redoing the kayak park. Corrine Koehler leads district’s recreation committee. She says they want to be sure that ideas for recreation aren’t just coming from the engineers.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Repair work on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is destroying the world’s largest mural. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports on the discussion about repainting it.

The Pueblo Conservancy District board oversees the levee. It’s preparing guidelines to cover design, approval, and maintenance for new artwork. They got mixed comments from the couple of dozen people at a public meeting last night.

Initial work to rebuild the aging Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is winding down. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports that structural issues discovered during this phase will likely mean the project will cost more than originally projected.

Work began late last year to lower the height and replace the concrete facing on the levee in order to meet FEMA flood control requirements. The bottom of the 90-year-old structure is about nine feet deeper than expected, according to Rick Kidd, the administrator for the Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the levee.

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

Browns Canyon in Chaffee County will be designated a National Monument by President Obama on Thursday. 
 

Conservationists, community leaders and businesses are praising the move, which comes after years of work to secure the designation.  It covers a 22,000-acre stretch of public land along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida known for recreational opportunities. 

Keith Baker heads the non-profit group Friends of Browns Canyon.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Demolition work has begun to remove the top 12 feet of a section of the Arkansas River Levee in Pueblo. It’s part of the first phase of a project to repair the aging structure and meet FEMA flood control guidelines.
 

Heavy equipment moves dirt and concrete as the contractors build a ramp to access the top of the levee. Part of the pedestrian path near the work area has been closed for safety reasons. 

Consulting engineer Kim Kock says they expect the first critical section to be complete by mid February, despite the delay in beginning work.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The start of a massive repair project on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is being delayed until December due to historic preservation concerns and some delays in the funding.
 

The project’s consulting engineer Kim Kock says the state historic preservation officer has said the levee could be deemed historic because it was constructed in response to the deadly 1921 floods and used methods of that time period.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, or AHRA, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary today. The region spans 152 miles of the Arkansas River and saw over 711,000 visitors last year.

AHRA program assistant Rose Bayless says in its 25 years, the area has provided an outlet for outdoor recreation that the public didn’t have before, including boating and fishing.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

 
The Pueblo Conservancy District awarded the contract for phase one of the project to repair the aging Arkansas River levee. The estimated cost for this initial phase is $3.6 million and is expected to begin in November and end in March.  KRCC’s Shanna Lewis reports.

The full repair project is likely to span three or four winters and will destroy the collection of murals painted on the levee by hundreds of artists since the 1970s. It’s the largest outdoor mural in the world.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The mural that covers most of the 2.8 mile long Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is facing its demise. Hundreds of huge images painted over the last forty years by at least a thousand artists combine to make this artwork. It’s so massive, it’s listed by Guinness World Records as the largest outdoor mural on the planet. But it’ll be destroyed during the forthcoming repair project.
 

Pueblo Conservancy District

The levee that protects much of downtown Pueblo from potential floodwaters in the Arkansas River is about to get a major facelift. After levees failed in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA made a push for levee certification. And for Pueblo’s aging Arkansas River levee this means an estimated 15 million dollar repair project and the destruction of its famous mural. The alternative is downtown properties would have to buy flood insurance. The process has brought to the forefront structural deficiencies.
 

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the Arkansas River levee, took action Wednesday to find a qualified contractor to repair the aging structure. The estimated $14 million project will involve cutting the height of the levee, resurfacing it and other work to improve structural stability and safety.
 

The levee was built following the deadly 1921 flood that killed hundreds and devastated downtown Pueblo. Now the levee needs to be brought into the 21st century in order to meet new FEMA requirements.

This year has seen a spike in Colorado waterway fatalities. But, as KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports, those in the rafting industry continue to predict a good season overall.

Four deaths have occurred during commercial rafting trips in Colorado this year, including two on the Arkansas River. This comes after several years without incident.           

David Costlow, director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, says it’s still unclear whether there are any trends among the fatalities.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida has reopened to boaters.  It closed at the beginning of June due high waters that caused a hazard at a recently constructed boat chute.  The portage trail used to bypass the chute had also become impassable.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida continues to remain restricted due to dangerous conditions. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Recent high waters and a new diversion structure in the river have raised safety concerns near Silver Bullet Boat Chute near Johnson Village. The diversion structure is creating unusually strong currents, and the reentry point on the portage trail that’s used to allow boaters to go around the chute is currently impassable due to high water levels. The area is restricted to only whitewater kayaks and canoes.

Friends of Browns Canyon

Senator Mark Udall is expected in Chaffee County today to unveil new proposed legislation that looks to declare Browns Canyon a national monument and wilderness area. KRCC’s Maggie Spencer has more.
 

The Arkansas River runs through Browns Canyon, and if passed, the bill would declare 22,000 acres of land from Nathrop to Salida a national monument and an additional 10,500 acres as protected wilderness.

A flood warning is in effect for the Arkansas River at La Junta after days of continuous rainfall along the valley and in the Pikes Peak region. KRCC's Maggie Spencer has more.

The river is expected to exceed its 11-foot flood stage tonight, and crest just over 12-feet by midmorning Tuesday. The National Weather Service says flood stage means some agricultural flooding. Officials there say residents should stay away from flowing water and riverbanks. The warning came this morning and expires Wednesday.

Christo Continues Pursuit of 'Over the River'

Sep 9, 2013
Over the River

World-renowned artist Christo still hopes to do an ambitious art installation in Central Colorado. Well known for The Gates, a New York City Central Park installation in 2005, he’s currently pursuing a project called Over the River. In it, fabric panels would be suspended over sections of the Arkansas River. Christo’s work is often controversial, so it’s no surprise the proposal has met stiff opposition here.  Christo recently spoke in Snowmass Village. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher was there, and has this report.