Estes Park, Colorado has over 5 million visitors per year from all over the world. On the Upper Big Thompson, the Visitors Center is often a central starting point for visitors and provides them the opportunity to learn about the community, outdoors, and wildlife in the area. In the 2013 flood, the river banks of the Visitors Center were severely damaged and undermined the major walkway. This site was particularly challenging because of extremely high flow levels, very restricted access, and the simultaneous construction of a new public parking garage. The town was in a very difficult position and had to start this project in the summer months when all the visitors were arriving at peak levels.
L4 proposed to the town, Estes Valley Watershed Coalition, and the adjacent construction company to create a new access plan and circumvent the need for our construction crews and heavy equipment to access the river banks from the Visitor Center parking lot and walkways. As a result, we entered the river channel from the opposite side of the river, at times worked in-channel at night, and left several pieces of heavy equipment on site so we could quickly resume construction when high flow water levels reached accessible ranges. L4 overcame all obstacles, enabled the Visitors Center to be used and accessed by visitors undisturbed, and provided what turned out to be an entertaining education for the visitors who enjoyed watching a river restoration project in progress. If you look closely, you will see “Apple,” Brandon’s dog, in the excavator in some of the photos. She was a celebrity that summer.