Volunteers plant willows on floodplain

Annual run set for June 9

By Lyndsie Ferrell
CREEDE— The Headwater Alliance and Willow Creek Reclamation Committee (WCRC) worked with local volunteers on April 27, to plant several willow trees in the floodplain located below Creede. The planting has been an ongoing project for several years. By utilizing willow plants, the organization enhances the natural ability the plant has to filter water through the root system and ultimately releases cleaner water into the creek.
According to Willow Creek Reclamation Committee Engagement Coordinator Laurel Smerch, on Saturday, April 21, in a partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, volunteers with the Headwaters Alliance and the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee came and harvested several willows. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be expanding a boat ramp on the Rio Grande at the south end of Airport Road in Creede and allowed volunteers to come and collect parts of willows from the ramp location. The organization soaked the shoots for a week, developing root systems before placing them in the floodplain on Friday.
“The cool thing about willows is that if you cut part of it and put it in water for enough time, it will start to develop roots. Willows are also good at filtering water, making them especially useful in mine reclamation. We left these willows soaking in water for a week. On Friday, April 27, some volunteers came out and planted these willows on the floodplain, were they will do the important work of making the creek cleaner,” said Smerch.
The organization is also planning a highway cleanup day on May 21 and a creek cleanup day in June. Both efforts depend on the participation of local volunteers; the organization will welcome anyone wanting to help.

Annual run
Also coming up in June is the annual Run Off Run Off marathon. Participants will meet at the ball park located south of Creede and those participating in the 25-mile marathon will be bused out to Road Canyon Reservoir located to the north for the start of the race around 8 a.m. The long route takes participants through a weaving river valley and down through the remnants of the West Fork Complex Fire, which adds to the ambiance of the race and the importance of water conservation.
The purpose of the race is to raise awareness and educate people on the headwaters of the Rio Grande and the importance of protecting the quality of life and water in the area.
The event also offers participants a half marathon that will begin later in the morning at a hal-way point from the reservoir and a 6K run through the floodplain. Recent work completed by the WCRC has included capping projects which have utilized dirt from other area projects to cover some of the problem areas in the tailing piles from Creede’s mining past.
After the end of all races, there will be an awards ceremony at the ball park beginning at 2 p.m. and followed by live music, great local brews and delicious barbeque. For more information or to sign up for the marathon, please visit www.runoffrunoff.com or contact Smerch at  847-239-0106 or [email protected]

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