Gigliotti Diversion Dam
Community restores a river
About the Project
In 2013, the City of Helper partnered with Trout Unlimited (TU) to launch the Helper River Revitalization Project (Project), an effort to restore stream and riparian function and fish passage, improve water quality, enhance public access and safety, and encourage community stewardship of Price River. The Price River flows southeast from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of central Utah, through the high desert in Carbon County and the City of Helper. It is a tributary to the Green River, which is a tributary to the Colorado River. Over the past century, the Price River has been straightened, realigned, and narrowed to accommodate construction and development, with several diversion dams built for irrigation creating an unnaturally narrow channel with excessive flow velocities. Invasive species such as Russian olive and Siberian elm now dominate the stream’s overstory, reducing biological diversity in the habitat surrounding the river.
Several obsolete grade control structures and six diversion dams have been removed as part of the Project. The final obsolete barrier to be removed, the Gigliotti diversion, a 60-foot-wide, 12-foot-high, concrete irrigation diversion dam built in 1910, was demolished in March 2023. Reconnecting and restoring this reach of the river will restore habitat and preserve a migration corridor for native species, including the Colorado cutthroat trout and bluehead sucker, and will advance the efforts of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, a public-private partnership program established in the 1980’s to reestablish endangered fish populations in the Upper Colorado River basin. It also removes a recreational boating barrier and safety hazard for anglers, introducing new recreational and economic opportunities that can create jobs to stimulate and diversify their economy.
The City of Helper, local schools, citizen volunteers, and state agencies are engaged in monitoring and maintenance activities designed to assess improvements to riparian conditions following dam removal. Additionally, Utah Water Watch and local school groups are engaged in community science monitoring along the river, and residents have launched a “River Helpers” group that regularly visits the site to check vegetation establishment and water riparian plants.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
- Restore fish passage
- Reconnect and restore aquatic and floodplain habitat
- Improve water quality
- Enhance public access and river safety
- Encourage community stewardship of Price River
- Enhance recreation opportunity to stimulate and diversify the local economy
City of Helper
Ross Gigliotti Enterprises (landowner)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Utah Coal Country Task Force
Utah Department of Natural Resources
Utah Division of Water Quality
Utah Division of Water Resources
Utah Natural History Museum
Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation
Utah State University Eastern