DENVER – Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and partners from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Gates Family Foundation, Occidental, Corteva Agriscience, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management awarded $3.1 million in grants to 10 habitat restoration and stewardship projects across the state. The GOCO board committed $1 million to the collaborative funding effort in March 2021.
The grants are part of the RESTORE Colorado program. Restoration and Stewardship of Outdoor Resources (RESTORE) Colorado funds at-scale habitat restoration, expansion, and improvement projects across priority landscapes including:
- River corridors, riparian areas, and wetlands
- Eastern Colorado grasslands
- Big game winter range and migration routes
- Forestland projects in specific geographies
This year’s grantees generated more than $8.7 million in match funding, providing a total conservation impact of $11.8 million.
Grant details are as follows:
Improving Habitat and Reducing Wildfire Risk by Treating Railroad Bridge Forestland
$454,024 grant to National Forest Foundation
Funds will be used to improve wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of severe wildfire by 50% through targeted, cross-jurisdictional treatments in Chaffee County on the Arkansas River headwaters. The project will restore 380 acres of forestland through mechanical and hand thinning treatments that will reduce the Town of Buena Vista’s risk of severe wildfire while benefiting the nearby mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, and wild turkey populations.
Increasing Strategic Ranch Enrollment in the Audubon Conservation Ranching Program
$317,686 grant to National Audubon Society
Funds will be used to restore and improve the management of private ranches in critical grassland habitat and identify and develop habitat management plans. Management plans will focus on improving habitat for focal bird species such as lesser prairie chicken, eastern black rail, lark bunting, and thick-billed longspur. These efforts will lead to hydrology restoration on more than 6,000 acres of mesic habitat and the strategic management of 30,000 acres of grassland habitat.
Removing Invasive Tamarisk to Restore Riparian Habitat and Instream Flow
$260,008 grant to Conservation Legacy
The project will focus on treating invasive tamarisk along the Dolores River below McPhee Dam. By treating the invasive tamarisk and revegetating native plants, the project will help restore 500 acres of stream bank and 35 miles of wetland habitat, as well as restore the river to a resilient, self-sustaining state.
Restoring Riparian and Upland Habitat in the Little Dolores River Watershed
$381,036 grant to Mesa County Land Conservancy
The project will focus on restoring wetland and upland habitat in the Little Dolores River watershed by installing Beaver Dam Analog (BDA) and Zeedyk structures. These structures will help improve the area’s hydrology, decrease the presence of invasive Russian olive and tamarisk, help restore declining aspen groves, eliminate fencing, and reduce grazing intensity. The project will also restore more than 300 acres of habitat benefiting a variety of species including Gunnison sage-grouse, mule deer, and elk.
Restoring Riparian and Upland Habitat in the Tomichi Creek Watershed
$299,661 grant to Trout Unlimited
Funds will be used to coordinate restoration work on federal, state, and private lands to accomplish wetland, forest, and range-land habitat improvements throughout the Tomichi Creek watershed near Gunnison. The project will restore 8.5 miles of stream and 10 acres of mesic habitat to benefit big game; aquatic species; and Gunnison sage-grouse and green lineage Colorado cutthroat trout, two priority native species.
Restoring Riparian and Upland Habitat on Swan River to Improve Connectivity for Cutthroat Trout
$300,000 grant to Summit County
Funds will be used to restore the area’s riparian floodplain, wetlands, and upland habitat to increase habitat quality and connectivity for native cutthroat, brown, and brook trout species in the Swan River Valley. The project will restore 0.8 miles of the main stem of Swan River as well as 30 acres of riparian and upland habitat.
Restoring Riparian and Wetland Habitat to Benefit Trout Spawning in Badger Creek
$390,101 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy
Funds will be used to design and implement wetland restoration efforts and improved grazing management projects within the Badger Creek Headwaters watershed. The project will deliver 142 acres of reconnected floodplain and reestablished native riparian vegetation, 6.7 miles of restored stream, 85 acres of restored wetlands, and 1.6 miles of livestock fencing. It will improve 8,909 acres of rangeland habitat on public and private land.
Restoring Riparian and Wetland Hydrology and Species Habitat in the South Platte Headwaters
$131,795 grant to Colorado Open Lands
This project will focus on restoring natural function and habitat in the headwaters of the South Platte watershed. Funds will be used to implement low-tech treatments to restore stream and increase aquatic species habitat, reconnect floodplain, reestablish native vegetation, and restore wetland habitat. The project will restore 164 acres of riparian habitat, 111 acres of wetland habitat, and 4.3 miles of stream habitat to benefit species such as the boreal toad, northern leopard frog, bald eagle, Lewis’s woodpecker, short-eared owls, and river otter.
Restore Riparian Habitat and Connectivity on the Colorado River around the Windy Gap Reservoir
$255,695 grant to Trout Unlimited
The project will focus on restoring hydrology and connectivity of the Colorado River by building a natural channel and floodplain around Windy Gap Reservoir, an on-channel reservoir that blocks the movement of fish and other aquatic organisms. The project will also link cross-jurisdictional restoration efforts to restore habitat for lost and declining aquatic species and provide economic benefits to Grand County communities that rely on these streams for recreation.
Restoring Sagebrush Shrubland for Sage-Grouse and Big Game Habitat in Dolores and San Miguel
$277,679 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy
Funds will be used to increase capacity for planning and implementation of landscape-scale restoration efforts in sagebrush shrublands in southwest Colorado. These efforts will help enhance big game habitat and working lands resilience. The project will also implement mesic restoration through the installation of approximately 100 Zeedyk structures. It includes invasive species removal and retreatment of tamarisk on approximately 158 acres of Dry Creek Basin in San Miguel County.
For more information, see the release from partners and the program fact sheet from NFWF.