An original plan to restore 50 acres into wetlands has now been expanded by 15 acres
An expansion to the wetlands in Animas Valley, north of Durango, Colo., has been approved.
The Zink family, who owns the property that will be expanded, has been working to restore a portion of their 150-acre ranch back to wetlands for years, according to The Durango Herald.
At first, the family told the Durango Herald that the plan was to restore just 50 acres, but while those acres were being worked on, the family began looking at other areas of their property that could be converted.
Now, the family has gained approval from various government agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and La Plata County Government, to expand the original wetlands project by 15 acres, the Durango Herald reported.
The Zink family expects the project to take five years, but once completed, almost half of the ranch will be wetlands, which serve as a natural water filter and provide diverse habitats for various wildlife species.
According to the EPA, wetlands can be a factor in reducing the frequency and intensity of flooding by acting as natural buffers. Typically, a wetland can store about 3 acre-ft or one million gallons of water.
Additionally, the Zinks are open to letting their property be used in other ways. According to the Durango Herald, “The Clean Water Act of 1974 requires any new development that will destroy wetlands to find new land to restore back to a wetland,” and the Zinks have said their property could be used for this purpose.
Ed Zink told the Durango Herald, for example, that if the Colorado Department of Transportation ever considered expanding U.S. Highway 601 between Durango and Bayfield, Colo., approximately 20 acres of wetlands would be impacted. Zink said that CDOT could reimburse the family for their restoration project.
A similar project was approved in 2018 when the Southwest Basin Roundtable and the Colorado Water Conservation Board awarded $50,000 and $170,000 to fund restoration efforts of approximately 100 acres of wetlands near Navajo Lake, according to the Durango Herald.
Additionally, two Colorado programs were awarded $575,333 by the EPA last September to survey, assess, map and provide technological tools to improve wetlands in the state.
Read more about wetlands.