Work begins to transform bog in Basalt |

Work begins to transform bog in Basalt

Aspen Times writer

The town of Basalt began physical work on its future riverside park last week by starting to drain the Levinson pond and capturing several dozen large resident trout.

The much-maligned, algae-filled pool next to Taqueria el Nopal is in for a major facelift. Town officials cooperated with Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists to begin the project.

Using heavy equipment, workers breached the pond’s dam Friday, and the water began to empty into the nearby Roaring Fork River. When the pond dries sufficiently, crews will dig out the remaining mud and then begin grading and recontouring the fringes of the small basin. In an estimated 45 to 60 days, town officials hope to have a new and improved pond that will not only serve as the tail end of a storm-water filtration system, but will also be a restocked trout-fishing venue.

“We think it will be an outstanding functioning pond [for storm-water treatment] and a fishing amenity,” said deputy town manager Betsy Suerth. “We want it to be a safe venue for small children to learn how to angle.”

The recontouring around the pond won’t occur in isolation. Earthwork will also take place between the Taqueria and the Roaring Fork River in preparation for the second phase of park construction – installation of landscaping, trails and other amenities – which will occur at a later date.

Though angling is part of the long-term plan for the Levinson pond, none will occur in the next couple of months. To curtail the spread of fish diseases, the DOW doesn’t allow fish to be transplanted from one body of water to another. So, all of the fish captured Friday before the draining were cleaned, placed on ice and donated to the nonprofit organization Lift-Up, which provides emergency help to needy people throughout the valley.

Suerth said the crew captured about 45 well-fed trout, some browns and some brookies.

“I cleaned one that was about 14 or 16 inches,” she said.

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