Due to high water levels in the Colorado River as a result of runoff from melting snow this past spring, Grand Junction’s River Park at Las Colonias had its longest season since opening in May of 2020. Visitors and residents were able to paddle, play, and float with as many as 500 people per day enjoying the water flowing from the Colorado River through the channel that was created at Las Colonias Park. Last year channel restrictions began on July 22 and this year water has continued to flow into the channel through the third week of August.
With the end of summer; however, this Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20 will be the last weekend the river will be diverted into the River Park channel. Water levels in the Colorado River have been dropping this month which means early next week the City of Grand Junction will place sandbags at the entrance of the River Park at Las Colonias to restrict water flow to the main river channel. This keeps the water in the main channel helping maintain habitat for endangered fish that are present in the river.
According to requirements of the River Park’s federal permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, any time the Colorado River flows below 810 cubic feet per second (cfs), the River Park channel must be cut off from the main channel of the Colorado River to protect critical habitat for wildlife including four endangered fish species. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and the Wildlife Service authorized the city to construct the River Park channel and the permit was contingent on restricting water from flowing into the River Park channel when levels are below 810 cfs.
The sandbags are placed just downstream of the Las Colonias boat ramp and at the beginning of the River Park channel. Visitors are asked to leave the sandbags intact and in position to provide protection for the endangered fish until water levels increase.
The $1.2 million river park project was funded by grants from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Water Conservation Board as well as the City of Grand Junction, Colorado Basin Roundtable, Downtown Grand Junction, and One Riverfront. The project also was made possible through partnerships with Bonsai, Colorado Mesa University, and the U. S. Department of Energy.