South Platte River Restoration

SouthPlatteWhile visiting Denver over Memorial Day weekend, I walked from my downtown hotel to the lower downtown area and the South Platte River. I did not expect to see a revitalized waterfront with very busy bicycle paths lining the river along with new apartments and condos. The rapids at Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek joins the South Platte, was filled with young adults tubing its length as though they were in a water park. In fact, this was an urban water park where children and their parents build sand castles on the banks of the rivers and splash to their hearts’ content. Onlookers enjoyed the site of so much activity both along and in the two rivers, as dog walkers and even a bird watcher strolled along the river bank.

It was a very heartwarming and impressive site for an urban waterway, especially considering how heavily degraded the area once had been. The Greenway Foundation documents the history of restoration of both the rivers and the neighborhood. This effort could serve as a model for other Urban Waterways. Their work has obviously paid off. It would be nice to hear from those that enjoy this resource and other similar areas.

About the Author: Wayne Davis is an environmental scientist in the Office of Environmental Information and has been promoting the use of aquatic biological indicators for community outreach for most of his 23 year EPA tenure. He also manages a Web site on biological indicators –