COLORADO – Spring Creek, which flows through southeastern Colorado Springs, is getting new life with a project. Several city departments are collaborating on restoring and improving an 18-acre stretch of property along the creek.

Planners say the area has become overgrown with invasive trees and trash. The project aims to transform it back to a more natural setting through trash cleanup efforts and the removal of a significant amount of invasive tree species. The area has been taken over by Siberian elm, a non-native tree species, which is attracted to waterways.

“It’s sort of been forgotten in a lot of ways. It’s really been difficult for the city, especially stormwater, to get in and clean the area. It’s been difficult for access,” Stormwater Enterprise Manager Richard Mulledy said.

That’s why the first part of a multi-year project is cleaning up and clearing out what doesn’t belong here. The project runs from Pikes Peak Avenue to Airport Road.

“Removing the invasive species and really opening it back up so our native species can come back. We’re going to replant all the wetland, replant the vegetation and restore the habitat to what it used to be 50 years ago,” said Mulledy.

City planners said they cleaned up enough trash to fill 14 dump trucks along the 18-acre stretch, clearing around 80 tons of garbage. They said this number will go up as the project stretches on.

“When it’s overgrown like that, it’s one of those sites where it’s a little easier for people to, unfortunately, dump the trash,” Mulledy added.

The project will also slow down stormwater and improve water quality flowing downstream.

“By re-establishing the wetlands, re-establishing the creek in that area, it will give us an opportunity to provide detention. So we can slow the flows from that site. So that will help with flood control headed downstream which is protection of infrastructure. “They’re probably the best thing we have for improving water quality,” said Mulledy.

The wetlands play a huge role in water quality. Wetlands remove nutrients from yard fertilizers that would otherwise flow into the creek, prevent harmful algae blooms and overall improve stormwater quality.

“We can make a beautiful area in the middle of the city where people can walk through and look at native birds. We want it to be an amenity that people want to enjoy it,” Mulledy explained.