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Matrix Reimagines Willow Creek Floodplain

26 April 2021

Matrix was recently highlighted in the local Colorado newspaper, The Mineral County Miner, for leading the engineering design of the Lower Willow Creek floodplain in Creede, Colorado. Headwaters Alliance (HWA), a local non-profit focused on fostering an environmentally and economically sustainable future, selected Matrix to lead the design, as well as the public engagement component of the project. The work will stabilize a two-mile reach of Willow Creek and re-establish a functional, resilient floodplain. The design will improve functionality while providing passive, open space recreational opportunities for the community of Creede. 

The vision for the project originated locally and through partnerships, including with Trout Unlimited, a national non-profit seeking to conserve, protect, and restore the coldwater fisheries and watersheds of North America. The project is receiving funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board — an agency devoted to the conservation, protection, and management of Colorado’s water for nearly 80 years.

The floodplain is an alluvial fan — a cone-shaped accumlation of sediment — downstream of historic mining operatons. Large amounts of rock and mining waste is continuously shifting in the floodplain under various hydruaulic conditions. A successful design will provide long-term healthy stream corridor functionality and reduce the exposure of mining-related contaminants.

HWA stated in the Miner they are “proud to be moving forward on this project with Matrix at such a beloved, iconic location.” Matrix will be partnering with SWCA Environmental Consultants and Blue Mountain Consultants for the project. Matrix’s Aaron Sutherlin, PE, will serve as Project Manager and told the Miner the team was “carefully constructed…to provide specific subject matter expertise.” SWCA will be assisting in mine reclamation and floodplain restoration, while Blue Mountain will help with fisheries and geomorphology. Both consulting firms have extensive experience working throughout the State of Colorado.

Matrix’s efforts in leading community engagement have already proven critical to project success. After the Team facilitated a meeting with community members, HWA staff, and HWA board members, the board’s accountant, Jan Crawford, told the Miner, “It was good to engage with the Matrix guys, hear their ideas and share some of our ideas and concerns…. This kind of open dialogue between our community and their experts seems like an important element of getting it as right as we can....”


Ferrell, L. (2021, January 28). Engineering firm chosen for the Willow Creek Floodplain design. The Mineral County Miner, 44(4), 1A-4A.