The District's work, through a collaborative effort between many organizations, focuses on protecting, preserving and enhancing our waterways for the benefit of citizens and our natural habitat throughout the region for today and future generations. We care about clean and safe waterways, water quality, and enhancing the ability to fish and recreate in our waterways for improved quality of life for all.
Fountain Creek Chronicles
October 2019
2019 Creek Week Summary Coming Soon!
Stay Tuned for Special Edition!

The Future of Fountain Creek:
Frost Ranch Owner Takes the Long View

Here in the Pikes Peak region, many of us play in the Fountain Creek Watershed, whether we’re aware of it or not. We might hike or ride our bikes along Fountain Creek and its tributaries. We might fish or paddle our kayak in the creeks or lakes. But most of us don’t work the land – and we rarely witness Fountain Creek’s tempestuous nature. 
But Jay Frost, third-generation owner of Frost Ranch south of Fountain, Colorado, has endured the creek’s unruly temperament for decades. “I’ve been watching the creek all my life,” he says. “We make a living here. We try to deal with its unpredictable nature.”
Frost Ranch has deep roots in local ranching and farming traditions. The Frost family raises grass-fed and grass-finished lamb and beef in its irrigated meadows. They grow non-certified organic vegetables and grass/alfalfa hay in the irrigated parts of the farm. The Frost family takes pride in growing healthy, sustainable food. The lamb and beef are free of hormones, antibiotics, and corn; fields are never sprayed; and vegetable planting, irrigating, weeding, and harvesting are all done using holistic and traditional methods. 

Fountain Creek’s erosion and sedimentation issues are vexing. How does this impact Frost Ranch? 
Photo by Denise Dethlefsen
“The creek is flashy,” Jay says. “If there’s a little sniffle of rain in Colorado Springs, here comes the water! We can go from a base flow of 60 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 22,000 cfs. When the water calms down, all the sediment drops. The sediment load in Fountain Creek is crazy!”

Simultaneously, the ranch is literally losing property from erosion. “We have a big cut bank – we refer to it as the Great Wall,” Jay notes. “It’s 60 feet deep and at least a quarter of a mile long. It’s sloughing off soil all the time.”

Jay adds that floodwater can wash away fences and irrigation pipes, and sedimentation can damage irrigation infrastructure. The Frost family no longer grazes livestock near the creek due to the invasion of non-native plants. “Parts of the creek are choked with trees and exotic species like salt cedar [tamarisk] and Russian olive trees,” he says. “You can’t fence the dang thing. It’s just gnarly.”

That’s why, nearly three decades ago, Jay helped to form a coalition to begin focusing on the Fountain Creek Watershed – and begin addressing its many issues regarding flooding, erosion, and sedimentation.

This early initiative helped to pave the way for the formation of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control & Greenway District. Soon after the District was formed, Frost Ranch collaborated with District engineers to address a serious erosion issue on the ranch. According to the Project Summary, the lack of vegetation along approximately 400 feet of the creek’s bank allowed soil to be readily removed during high-flow events, resulting in flood damage, bank erosion, and increased downstream sedimentation.

Unfortunately, the repair project didn’t hold – a flooding incident washed it away. But Jay isn’t completely surprised, due to the turbulent nature of the creek. “Fountain Creek is normally a dribble, but it’s prone to flooding,” he says. “It can be wilder than hell when it’s really rolling.”

A Comprehensive Solution is the Best Way Forward
When it comes to Fountain Creek, Jay Frost takes the long view. “I believe we can find a comprehensive solution – a silver bullet – that will address the entire Fountain Creek Watershed,” he says. “A comprehensive solution – an absolutely engineered approach – is always better than just taking a stab at the issues, project by project."

This is one of the benefits of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, which is addressing the watershed comprehensively. In fact, since 2009, the District has planned and/or implemented more than a dozen construction projects to address critical erosion and sedimentation issues throughout the watershed. Various project aspects involve restoring the main channel, realigning the creek, stabilizing steep cut banks, revegetating, protecting wetlands, and restoring riparian habitat. At the end of the day, if Fountain Creek has less erosion, less sedimentation, better quality and accessible water, we all benefit.
I n the conversation with Jay, it was noted that ranchers and farmers are on the front lines of water issues, fighting the good fight. “Yeah,” Jay replies, “but it’s so worth it.”


The City of Colorado Springs is catching up on stormwater improvement projects that were neglected for many years, negatively impacting Fountain Creek. The work the District is doing with its many partners continues to improve the Fountain Creek Watershed Region.
The City of Colorado Springs “Stormwater Enterprise” operates from the revenue of stormwater fees. Its 72 employees maintain the Colorado Springs stormwater infrastructure. Their jobs are many; including oversight of detention ponds, channel stabilization, underground pipe, stormwater sewer systems, drainage from businesses, and construction erosion control programs, to name a few. They also collect tremendous amounts of data on water runoff and quality for the protection of all. 
The Stormwater Enterprise spends money on projects within the confines of Colorado Springs. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens here, doesn’t stay here! The Stormwater Enterprises oversees all stormwater activity within the city of Colorado Springs to assure the integrity of the entire Fountain Creek Watershed Region.
“I see the District as the most important entity in the area. They stitch together all of our cities’ infrastructures. We need to move in the same direction with the whole basin. That’s the benefit of the District. We must work with each community in mind,” said Stormwater Enterprise Manager, Richard Mulledy, P.E. “The District’s role is to set the direction of the basin; open space, stormwater management, recreation so that 20 years from now our area is comprehensively planned.”
Richard is a member of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
3 Types of Streamflow Impact Fountain Creek
(Why Stormwater Management Is Important)

Fountain Creek drains a 927-square-mile watershed. This watershed starts at 14,115 feet – the top of Pikes Peak – and runs downhill to 4,640 feet (the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River in Pueblo).

Given the elevation change and other pressures, Fountain Creek is not a stable system – it exhibits frequent changes in sediment loads, streamflow rates, and vegetative conditions. According to the Strategic Plan for the Fountain Creek Watershed , the three types of flows impacting the overall conditions of Fountain Creek are base flow, channel forming flow, and flood flow.

Hypothetical numbers illustrate significant differences between Fountain Creek’s three flow rates:
  • Base flow = 30 cubic feet per second (cfs)
  • Channel forming flow = 3,000 cfs
  • Flood flow = 30,000 cfs

The Low-Down on Flow Rates

  1. Base flow – Unfortunately, the base flow of Fountain Creek (and its tributaries) is increasing due to increased urbanization with more asphalt and concrete, runoff from lawn watering, and other factors. Base flow doesn’t move very much sediment, so it isn’t a consistent factor in shaping the creek’s channel. However, as the base flow rate continues to increase, this accelerates day-to-day channel erosion and sediment transport.
  2. Channel forming flow – This flow rate moves the largest percentage of sediment over time, because this type of flow occurs more frequently in response to weather conditions. These events range from a few hundred cfs to a few thousand cfs several times a year.
  3. Major flood events – Floods compound the existing (and serious) sedimentation and erosion problems. As development continues within the Fountain Creek Watershed – and the amount of impervious areas and runoff increases – flood events are expected to increase.

Why is Stormwater Management Important?
Fluctuating flow conditions result in increased erosion and sediment transport. As the creek tries to adjust to the varying flows, it alters its meander pattern. This promotes increased bank erosion, down-cutting of the creek bed, and downstream sedimentation issues.

A comprehensive watershed management approach for the entire Fountain Creek Watershed can:
  • Reduce flood risk, sedimentation and erosion; rehabilitate riparian areas; create off-channel diversion and water storage; and preserve existing wetlands as well as create additional wetlands.
  • Better control flooding and erosion, which directly impacts water quality. Improved water quality is critical for our drinking water, for farmers who irrigate the crops we eat, and for a healthy wildlife habitat. 
Fountain Creek Greenway Trail Gets a Boost
with GOCO Grant
The Fountain Creek Greenway Trail is getting a big boost forward from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) with its September 27 award of a $75,000 planning grant to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. The grant will fund the development of a master plan for the proposed 46-mile greenway trail connecting Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
The trail will be part of the larger Colorado Front Range Trail (CFRT), a continuous trail network along Front Range communities, ultimately running through Colorado from the Wyoming to New Mexico borders. 

CLICK HERE to enlarge map.
Dark Green = Greenway Corridors
Lighter Green = Recreation Corridors
Lightest Green = Riparian Areas.
"Providing public access to the beauty of the Fountain Creek corridor will achieve a major community goal to preserve the corridor by encouraging stewardship of this unique resource. The Greenway Trail Master Plan will enable the District to develop multi-objective projects that include both trail construction and river restoration," said District Executive Director Larry Small.  

The master plan will establish a detailed alignment for the trail, which would begin at the southern city line in Colorado Springs and end at the Arkansas River in Pueblo. The goals include identifying already planned or constructed trail segments, prioritizing segments for future construction, creating cost estimates, and developing a plan for funding and implementation. 
The first step involves forming a Master Plan Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from Colorado Springs, Fountain, Pueblo, other municipalities in the area, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservation District, and the Fountain Creek Watershed Citizens Advisory Group. The District will work with a consultant to guide the planning process. 
To date, GOCO has invested more than $55.5 million in projects in El Paso County and conserved more than 8,100 acres of land in the county. GOCO funding has supported Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region, a​ Generation Wild community;​ renovations at Panorama Park; and Cheyenne Mountain State Park, among other projects. 
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)  ​invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state's parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO's independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit ​ ​ for more information. 
How Well Do You Know Your Watershed

We would like to know how familiar you are with the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. And, what would you like to learn more about in the Fountain Creek Watershed region? If you haven’t taken our survey, please click on the link below. Your input is much appreciated.

Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District Fact Sheets are a quick source of information and will be updated here:
The “Dirt” on Fountain Creek’s Soils
How Do Our Soil Types Impact Erosion? 

Here in the Fountain Creek Watershed, the word EROSION is practically a 4-letter word. Why? Because unchecked erosion plays havoc with the health of our creeks. In fact, a key goal of The Fountain Creek Corridor Restoration Master Plan is improving watershed health – and water quality – by reducing erosion, sedimentation, and flooding, and leading to more opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of our waterways.

A few of the master plan’s strategies include:
  • Increasing the number of curves in the creek, effectively lengthening the creek to slow it down and reduce erosion.
  • Stabilizing eroding creek banks that contribute large quantities of sediment downstream.
  • Adding sustainable riparian vegetation to help stabilize the creek.

Our Geology and Landforms Set the Stage for Significant Erosion
Between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Fountain Creek flows through an erosional valley. Surface deposits in this valley consist of sediment (sands and gravels) eroded from the Rocky Mountains. This sediment was deposited within the valley as floodplains and terraces over an older layer of shale. As a result, the creek’s channel bed and banks consist of sands and gravels. Exposed bedrock is shale.
A 2006 report notes that soils in the Fountain Creek corridor exhibit severe erosion potential. Case in point, some vertical cut banks tower up to 30 feet tall where the channel has eroded a high terrace. Recently, the Fountain Creek Watershed District completed a stabilization project on the Masciantonio Trust property, which had previously lost 28 acres of productive farmland due to excessive bank erosion! (Read about this project: )

The Fountain Creek Corridor Restoration Master Plan notes that highly erodible soils and terrace cut banks are particularly important considerations when planning restoration projects along the Fountain Creek corridor. Eroding terraces can contribute enormous amounts of sediment downstream. Sedimentation can degrade water quality, damage infrastructure, and overwhelm critical riparian and wetland ecosystems.

Restoration Soils to the Rescue
Future restoration projects in the Fountain Creek corridor may be able to take advantage of two types of silty/clay soils located on terraces and the higher portions of floodplains. The restoration plan notes that these soils are generally located close to the riparian corridor and are easily accessible. 

How does this impact those of us who live, work, and play in the Fountain Creek Watershed? Less erosion and sedimentation will lead to more opportunities for everyone to access and enjoy the recreational opportunities of Fountain Creek and our other waterways.
"I once read a quote that 'future generations will judge us not by what we say, but what we do.' The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District is the personification of this mindset and we should all be proud of the work they do.  I've had the opportunity to be involved with the District since its inception and I can't think of a more dedicated group with such a strong focus on protecting our watershed for our citizens today and for future generations."
Gabriel P. Ortega, Mayor of the City of Fountain
The Fountain Creek Brewshed® Alliance  

The Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance is the “Featured O rganization” at the Phantom Canyon Brewery from October – December

Each time a guest purchases the featured beer or appetizer, Phantom Canyon will donate $1 to the Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance, a program of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. The goal of the Alliance is to engage citizens in conversations and actions that will lead to water protection and enhancement. The group consists of water resource and craft brewing industry professionals connecting our communities to the shared values of healthy watersheds and locally made beer through education and events.
The featured beer and appetizer include:
  • Beer - “Nikola Petite Saison”
  • Appetizer - Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Bacon Bits, Bleu Cheese Crumbles, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette $9!
“We are partnering with the Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance because we have worked with the organization before and believe in the hard work that goes into water conservation. As members of the community and as brewers, we understand the implications of protecting this invaluable resource,” said Phantom Canyon Head Brewer, Charles McManus.
The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company is located at 2 East Pikes Peak Avenue in Colorado Springs.
There are several opportunities to meet with Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District Committees each month. The public is welcome to attend . All meetings take place at the Fountain City Hall, 116 South Main Street in Fountain.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meets at 1 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month. (TAC - technical experts appointed by the District Board to provide recommendations regarding public policy or expenditure of funds for the benefit of the watershed and to carry on technical and other investigations of all kinds.) 

The Citizen’s Advisory Group (CAG) meets at 9:30 a.m., the second Friday of each month. 
(CAG - citizens who are appointed by the District Board to represent interests identified within the watershed and to consult with and offer advice to the Board on managing the watershed.) )

The District Board meets at 2 p.m., the fourth Friday of each month.
The District Board consists of representatives from pueblo County, El Paso County, City of Pueblo, City of Colorado Springs, City of Fountain, and others as defined by statute

A Monetary Mitigation Fund meeting to discuss and prioritize mitigation projects by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District takes place 10 a.m. -noon, the third Tuesday of the month at Public Works, 33601 East United Avenue in Pueblo.
The District is governed by nine Directors who serve two-year terms on the Board of Directors.
  • Board Chair, Longinos Gonzalez Jr., El Paso County Commissioner
  • Terry Hart, Pueblo County Commissioner
  • Greg Lauer, City Council Member-at- Large, City of Fountain 
  • Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Fortuin, City of Manitou Springs Ward 2 representing Small Municipalities 
  • Richard Skorman, City Council President, City of Colorado Spring
  • Larry Atencio, City Council District 2 City of Pueblo
  • Leroy Mauch, Lower Arkansas Valley Conservancy District 
  • Jane Rhodes, Pueblo County Citizen-at-large 
  • Irene Kornelly, District Citizens Advisory Group