My Public Lands

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    15 posts tagged 2013conservation

    The Cienega Watershed Partnership engages youth in managing all aspects of a restoration project at the BLM’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in Arizona. One of the Cienega Watershed Partnership’s projects, the FROG Conservation Project, focuses on recovering populations of native fish and threatened leopard frogs by removing nonnative species. Through its many varied projects, the Cienega Watershed Partnership enhances stewardship of a wide variety of significant natural resources at the BLM’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Through its many varied projects, the Cienega Watershed Partnership enhances stewardship of a wide variety of significant natural resources at the BLM’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Through its many varied projects, the Cienega Watershed Partnership enhances stewardship of a wide variety of significant natural resources at the BLM’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.

    Partnership Helps Conserve Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in Arizona

    The Cienega Watershed Partnership’s mission is to conserve the nationally significant resources of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, located near Tucson, Arizona, and part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. The partnership brings together numerous players in such efforts as recovering endangered species, engaging youth in restoration, preserving cultural resources, conducting scientific investigations, and recording oral histories of the region. 

    One such project, the FROG Conservation Project, focuses on recovering populations of native fish and threatened leopard frogs by removing nonnative species and enhancing habitat. Partners have created new leopard frog breeding populations, developed refugia habitats, eliminated  nonnative aquatic species, planted native aquatic plants, and engaged local communities.

    Another project, the Youth Engaged Stewardship program, gives high school students an opportunity to work with mentors from the Partnership, including BLM, on managing all aspects of a restoration project at the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The students are exposed to careers in natural resources while working on leadership and technical skills, developing an understanding of environmental and public land laws and managing a small program budget. For example, high school students managed the development of a frog pond on the NCA from start to finish, including planning, working through NEPA and developing and implementing actions to sustain the dual frog/cattle ponds.  

    In addition, the Cienega Watershed Partnership partners with ranchers within the Cienega Watershed to achieve sustainable forage resource goals. 

    The Partnership has held “State of the Cienega Watershed” workshops to help address resource knowledge gaps, identify key stressors on ecosystems, develop strategies to ensure sustainable management, initiate planning efforts to address uncertainty from climate change, and identify key indicators for resource monitoring.  Another project, The Watershed Restoration Program, has trained resource specialists and volunteers in erosion control and water harvesting techniques. 

    An annual “Science on the Sonoita Plain” symposium brings together stakeholders, agency resource specialists, and scientists to share the results of scientific investigations in the upper watersheds of Cienega Creek, Sonoita Creek, and Babocomari River. 

    As part of another project, workshops are held for entities involved in managing, preserving, and interpreting cultural resources.

    The Oral History program has brought together several organizations and agencies with an interest in oral histories of the region. Through a series of workshops, participants were trained in techniques of collecting, recording, and transcribing oral histories. More than 240 audio tapes have been inventoried and digitized and 30 tapes are now transcribed. This collaboration resulted in virtual libraries of indexed oral histories that are available to a wide variety of agencies and organizations for use in their cultural resource programs. 

    Through its many varied projects, the Cienega Watershed Partnership enhances stewardship of a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources, ensuring that the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area is preserved for the future enjoyment of all public lands users. 

    BLM-Arizona nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    Participants in the University of Nevada’s Bootstraps Program hold chainsaws used to eradicate pinyon-juniper trees, invasive plants that threaten priority sage-grouse habitat.  Bootstraps participants build exclosures to protect sage-grouse riparian meadows. Bootstraps participants build exclosures to protect sage-grouse riparian meadows. The program helps participants gain the skills to return to school or enter the workforce through outdoor natural resource project work.

    Bootstraps Program Engages Youth to Enhance Wildlife Habitat in Nevada

    Created in 2005, the University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension’s Bootstraps Program gives at-risk and underprivileged youth the skills and decision-making abilities to return to school or enter the workforce by involving them in natural resource project work.  Participants receive practical classroom instruction and field experience. The BLM’s Battle Mountain District and other partners help pay crew members though financial assistance agreements with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Cooperative Extension. The program has employed more than 100 at-risk youth over 9 years.

    The young adults are between the ages of 18 and 25.  They are not working or in school and have little to no practical outdoor experience. Two thirds of the participants are Native American and most are young men living on their own or in single parent households. 

    Classroom instruction focuses on self-development as well as natural resources.  Lessons include team building, peer relations, goal setting, problem solving, decision-making, resume writing and communication skills. 

    Natural resources topics include forest and woodland ecology, identification of “old growth” trees, how to differentiate between different stages of pinyon-juniper tree stands, and field identification of Greater Sage-grouse nesting, brood-rearing, and winter habitats. The students receive technical training as well. They learn to use GPS technology, BLM emergency dispatch radios, and satellite phones.  

    In the field, the focus is on improving Greater Sage-grouse and other wildlife habitat on Nevada’s public lands. Bootstraps participants have used chainsaws to control 1,500 acres of pinyon-juniper trees each year in preliminary priority Greater Sage-grouse habitat.  Pinyon-juniper encroachment reduces undergrowth of sagebrush and native grasses, which causes Greater Sage-grouse to abandon historical use areas. The use of chainsaws to check the spread of these trees has enhanced known breeding, nesting, brood rearing, and wintering Greater Sage-grouse habitats. It benefits other wildlife as well as it contributes to an improved forage base and greatly reduces wildfire severity.

    The participants have also built riparian/wetland spring exclosures to protect vital wildlife watering resources, developed or repaired 20 water projects and built 150 riparian micro-exclosures to protect groves of aspen trees. 

    The program maintains a collaborative partnership with the Sho-Pai Tribe of Owyhee, Nevada. Bootstraps employment provides an important economic driver supporting families and the tribal community at-large.  

    Program partners include: 

    BLM-Nevada nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative interns worked at Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, at Dixie National Forest. Interns participate in an interpretation class in 2012.  Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative Youth Crews in 2013. Charlie Bulletts of the Kaibab Paiute Band of Indians teaches an intern how to build a traditional Paiute shelter called a Wickiup at the BLM’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative Youth Crews.

    Innovative Internship Partnership Passes on a Passion for Public Lands in Utah

    An innovative partnership in southern Utah, the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, is administered by Southern Utah University’s Harry Reid Outdoor Engagement Center. Its goal is to help meet agencies’ operational needs through dynamic internships that train university students, educators, and young people for careers in land and resource management.  The Cooperative has recruited more than 500 participants.

    The internship program began in 2008 and hires paid and unpaid student interns as part of the Career Internship Corps program to work as interpreters, natural and cultural resource support staff, in administrative offices, fee collectors, researchers, trail builders, and in other similar jobs.

    The students work for public lands located throughout southern Utah and northern Arizona. In some instances, students complete short-term projects for one agency and then move on to another agency. The program allows the agencies to complete conservation projects that would otherwise be impossible.

    One of the program’s successes is the creation of the first certified Wildland Firefighter crew in Utah’s university system, formed in cooperation with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State lands.  This crew is now sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Southern Paiute Agency.

    Participating partner agencies include the BLM Color County District, Arizona Strip District, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; the National Park Service Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Pipe Spring National Monument, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and Great Basin National Park; the Bureau of Indian Affairs Southern Paiute Agency; the US Forest Service’s Dixie National Forest; the Natural Resources Conservation Services Cedar City Field Office; Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation- Southwest Region, and Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands; Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah; and Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.

    Projects include repairing recreational trails, monitoring and rehabilitating wilderness study areas, restoring streams and riparian areas, reducing woody fuel loads and invasive vegetation, establishing and monitoring range plot frequencies, monitoring wildlife, and monitoring and restoring cultural resources.

    The program places students from specific academic disciplines into corresponding internships and crews. Each intern’s or crew’s project time includes related resource sciences and conservation education. In order to familiarize the students with government policies and prepare them for agency employment, members of the partner agencies serve as guest lecturers and student mentors.

    The Cooperative includes high school and college-aged students as members of work crews with an emphasis on recruiting disadvantaged and underserved youth. It also trains college interns and former crew members to be crew leaders.

    In addition, the Cooperative sponsors the Cedar Mountain Science Center Youth Camps for almost 500 elementary and middle school students a year. The program immerses students that have not spent much time outdoors in science and nature activities that promote responsible land stewardship and inspire their interest in community involvement.

    As the challenges of land management continue to grow, the internship program is a win-win endeavor, meeting agency needs while providing educational and career opportunities for the public land leaders of tomorrow.

    BLM-Utah nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    Mill Creek fuels before treatment. The Mill Creek Bullhog/Seeding project was completed in 2009. Mill Creek fuels after treatment. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources supports fuels management and burned area rehabilitation through a partnership with the BLM in southern Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducts aerial seeding as part of the Buckskin Restoration project.

    Partnership in Southern Utah Restores Thousands of Acres 

    A BLM partnership with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has helped raise millions of dollars for watershed and habitat restoration in southern Utah, including supporting fuels management, burned area rehabilitation, and wildlife conservation.

    In addition, over the past 5 years, the DWR has been an active partner in developing sound NEPA documents, BLM snapshot articles, and wildland-urban interface and conservation projects.

    This was made possible by leveraging $7.5 million in BLM funding with $8.4 million in partner funds, the majority provided by the DWR.  For example, the Division recently partnered with the BLM and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to secure $1.1 million in partner funds to provide “greenstripping” and fire-resistant vegetation to fire-prone areas in the BLM-Utah Color County District. 

    In 2003, a variety of state, local, and federal partners, including the DWR and the BLM, formed the Utah’s Partners for Conservation and Development and Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative.  

    The Southern Region of Utah Partners for Conservation and Development is made up of 13 agencies and landowner/stakeholder groups. Since the beginning, the Southern Region has partnered with the BLM’s Color County District to take advantage of the increased funding to lead the state in acres of habitat improvement. 

    The DWR paired funds with BLM Hazardous Fuels Reduction dollars to maximize the size of treatments within watersheds, completing 49 percent of the statewide restoration initiative project acres with only 33 percent of the funding.  This resulted in a lower than average cost per acre. Currently, almost 500,000 acres within the Southern Region have been treated, the vast majority on BLM lands. 

    The Division has developed numerous partnerships: bringing funding and other support to the table to assist in BLM restoration projects that otherwise would not have been possible.  Partners include the Wild Turkey Federation, Southern Utah Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the Mule Deer Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

    The DWR’s own hunter and conservation programs assisted with projects that treated and restored more than 18,300 acres of BLM watersheds and landscapes. 

    The Division also is involved in mitigation for the Sigurd to Red Butte 345 kV transmission project, helping the BLM to enhance greater sage-grouse habitat while supporting energy and transmission needs.  

    Through consistent cross-boundary planning and collaborative long-term monitoring, the BLM’s partners in Utah, led by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, have contributed immensely to the health of both public and private lands to benefit the wildlife, the people and the economy of Utah.  

    BLM-Utah nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    South West Conservation Corps members conduct road restoration work on the Gunnison Resource Area. Michael Troyer, Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs, operates a GPS device to enter cultural sites into GIS and other databases. The Veteran Green Corps empowers veterans to transition to civilian life by leveraging their leadership skills to meet pressing conservation needs on public lands.

    Veterans and Young People Work Together for Resource Management in Colorado

    Seeking to prepare 21st century leaders in conservation, the Colorado Youth Corps Association trains interns to conduct a wide range of conservation projects working collaboratively with local communities. The BLM works with the Association to involve youth and veteran interns in natural and cultural resource projects across the state and to introduce them to future careers. 

    The Association enables the BLM to hire young adults using a phased approach at very little cost. As a result, in 2012, the BLM was able to almost triple the number of internship positions available in Colorado through its Diversity Internship Partnership Program. Thirty-four percent of the interns hired had their internship extended, were offered second internships, or were offered seasonal or full-time employment with the BLM.  

    Diversity is a hallmark of the partnership’s hiring goals; the Association employs underrepresented populations and those with barriers to employment, giving them hands-on experience to enhance career opportunities.

    Conservation projects are diverse and include work in recreation and visitor services; cultural and paleontological resources; fish, wildlife, and plant conservation;  rangeland resources; forestry; oil and gas; information technology; wild horses and burros; and education and interpretation.  

    The Colorado Youth Corps Association also serves as an intermediary with Veteran Green Corps crews. The Veteran Green Corps empowers veterans to transition to civilian life by leveraging their leadership skills to meet pressing conservation needs on public lands. The BLM hopes to provide veterans with an opportunity for careers with the BLM. 

    In addition, the partnership oversees AmeriCorps and other National Service programs for youth, offers technological and data management solutions for youth corps, fosters high quality educational opportunities for youth corps staff and their participants, and provides professional networking opportunities for youth corps staff.

    The partnership’s statewide effort includes more than 40 representatives from public land management agencies, nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions.

    BLM-Colorado nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    The BLM’s Patti Klein poses at the Tread Lightly! Ethics Trail during the Boy Scouts of America 2013 National Jamboree in Beckley, West Virginia. Tread Lightly! Ride on Utah educational booth at the 2013 Utah State Fair. Master Tread Trainer Course with the Boy Scouts of America in Illinois City, Illinois.  A Tread Lightly! Respected Access is Open Access stewardship project at Table Mesa, Arizona. A Tread Lightly! Restoration for Recreation project.

    Tread Lightly Teaches Respect for Natural Resources 

    Tread Lightly!, an organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah, works collaboratively with the BLM and other partners to promote responsible recreation on public lands through education and stewardship programs.  The goal is to teach people how to balance the “fun” with conservation and protection of natural and cultural resources when playing outdoors. 

    Tread Lightly! is involved in a number of special programs targeting different audiences and types of outdoor recreation including but not limited to hunting, recreational shooting, fishing and boating. The organization also promotes the safe and responsible use of off-highway and other recreational motorized vehicles. 

    The “Respected Access is Open Access Campaign” delivers the message that responsible behavior leads to continued access. The program includes guidance such as using current maps, staying on designated roads, respecting all signs and barriers, shooting only at appropriate targets, and packing out trash.   

    Another Tread Lightly! Campaign, RIDE ON Designated Routes, is a Utah statewide initiative that educates people who use motorized vehicles on Utah’s public lands. 

    Tread Lightly! also offers the Tread Trainer Program, which trains people to teach Tread Lightly! outdoor ethics to others.  About 750 trainers have educated more than 250,000 people in 49 states in activities such as hunting, fishing, boating, and recreational shooting sports.  Trainers include federal and state resource managers, enthusiast club representatives, certified off-highway vehicle safety instructors, and members of the greater outdoor recreation community. 

    In addition, the Tread Lightly! organization brings funding and support from the private sector through partnerships such as Yamaha’s OHV Access Initiative and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

    Tread Lightly! teaches visitors how to behave responsibly on public lands, ensuring that BLM lands are sustained into the future for public enjoyment.

    BLM-Utah nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    A Nature High Summer Camper makes friends with a butterfly. The BLM sponsored seven participants through a new partnership with Youth Discovery, Inc. Partners representing nine federal and state agencies teamed up to teach 30 high school students about natural resources and inspire them to pursue higher education. Campers enjoyed playing challenging team games that built camaraderie through problem-solving and teamwork.

    Utah High School Students Find Solutions to Land Management Problems 

    Nature High Summer Camp is a week-long camp held each summer at the Great Basin Environmental Education Center in the Manti/LaSal National Forest near Ephraim, Utah.  Sponsored by eight state and federal agencies, the program engages high school students in land management activities, introduces them to future careers and teaches them to be responsible stewards of their public lands. 

    The students participate in daily field trips and meet with experts from a variety of backgrounds.  They learn how scientific research drives the land use planning process and how professionals identify, collect, interpret, and use data. Agency experts talk to the students about the challenges their agencies face.

    Students also gain hands-on experience in areas such as forest ecology, soil sampling, and stream flow measurement. During the camp, students apply the knowledge they’ve gained by evaluating actual local land management scenarios. The students are divided into teams representing different user groups and must find collaborative solutions to land management issues. 

    A variety of organizations make up the sponsoring partnership, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Natural Resources Conservation ServiceU.S. Geological SurveySnow CollegeUtah State University Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Forest Service.

    Following the camp, many of the students attend college to pursue land management careers. Regardless of what path they choose, students report that the camp experience changed their outlook. Take, for example, the experience of one camper. Originally he had no plans after high school; now he wants to be a smokejumper! 

    Nature High Summer Camp is leveraging resources to reconnect youth with the great outdoors, ensuring our public lands are sustained in the future by the next generation of stewards. 

    BLM-Utah nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    A section of the Cottonwood treatment area before treatment. Project partners have treated close to 2,000 acres and plan to treat 5,900 acres in 2014.  Vegetation masticators work in the Cottonwood treatment area. Cottonwood area after treatment. Sage-grouse are found in the Cottonwood treatment area days after treatment. Lek counts provide evidence that sage-grouse are returning to areas once overgrown with juniper.

    Idaho Project a Model for Sage-Grouse Partnerships in the West

    Protecting the habitat of the sage-grouse, an iconic Western land-dwelling bird, is becoming an increasing priority, making the work of groups such as the Burley Landscape Sage-Grouse Habitat Restoration Project all the more vital.  This project seeks to restore sage-grouse habitat by removing juniper to allow healthy sage-brush communities to thrive in southern Idaho.

    A partnership between the BLM-Idaho Burley Field Office, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Pheasants Forever, and permittee allotment holders, the project has treated close to 10,000 acres and plans to treat another 22,000 acres in the next 3-5 years.  Lek counts provide evidence that sage-grouse are returning to areas once overgrown with juniper. 

    Removing juniper also improves recreational opportunities such as hunting, photography, and bird watching and lessens wildfire impacts created by the flammable tree. Wildfire is currently the foremost threat to sustaining sage-grouse populations in Idaho.  

    The project’s overall goal is to treat 38,000 acres of BLM land by 2017 in addition to treating state and private lands. The NRCS has coordinated conservation agreements with local permit-holding ranchers on public lands in order to apply NRCS sage-grouse initiative funds to restoration treatments. Pheasants Forever staff members have also taken great strides in restoring sage-grouse habitat by providing resources for accruing and applying federal, state, and private funds to treatments on public lands. Pheasants Forever is responsible for hiring contractors for project implementation using funding from multiple partners, administering those contracts, and jointly conducting project inspection on contractor work with BLM project inspectors. In addition, the IDFG and the BLM have provided technical expertise to project development and implementation. 

    The project participants have reached out to numerous federal, state, and private organizations. One participating organization, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, works with private landowners to implement conservation projects on deeded land. Another group, the South Magic Valley sage-grouse local working group, brings together private landowners, hunting organizations, conservation groups, and local government agencies to discuss habitat improvement and sage-grouse management. 

    In addition, partners involve young people in restoration efforts. The IDFG and the BLM recruit local youth groups and students to plant sagebrush seedlings in areas burned by wildfire adjacent or near treated junipers. More than 2,000 volunteers are enlisted each spring for this work. The students also mark fences with bird diverters to prevent sage-grouse collisions near treatments.

    As the 2015 deadline for a sage-grouse listing decision approaches, the Burley Landscape Sage-Grouse Habitat Restoration Project serves as a prominent example of how organizations can work together to conserve wildlife on our public lands.  The partnership’s dedication has caused it to be described as a model for the establishment of sage-grouse conservation partnerships in the West.  

    BLM-Idaho nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    Scouts learn how to plant trees as part of a scientific study. An Arizona Western College student plants a cottonwood tree at Mittry Lake along the lower Colorado River just northeast of Yuma, Arizona.

    Arizona Partnership Involves Youth in Restoration Efforts

    Tamarisk are pesky Old World shrubs and trees with scale-like leaves that consume vast amounts of water in dry areas.  These plants have damaged native riparian habitat and blocked recreational access in many areas of the desert southwest including along the Lower Colorado River and at locations along Mittry Lake in Yuma, Arizona.

    The Mittry Lake Restoration Project is a joint effort between the BLM, the Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona State Forestry Division, Arizona Western College, and Northern Arizona University

    The partnership engages college students from Arizona Western College to restore more than 300 acres of riparian and upland habitat.  Restoration efforts are focused along the Lower Colorado River, including the popular BLM-managed area of Betty’s Kitchen National Recreation Trail. In addition, the project involves youth volunteers, including Boy and Girl Scouts, in native tree planting and ongoing research.

    This work will enhance outdoor opportunities for the public, including nearby tribal communities, such as residents of Quechan Indian Reservation. Restoration projects have already improved fishing, bird watching, and hiking access.  The work has also created access roads through planting sites to be used as fire breaks. 

    Tamarisk creates extremely salty soils, damaging habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. To restore riparian habitat, the partnership works to remove tamarisk along the river and replant native species. Project partners installed an enhanced water pumping station to flood large tracts of land in order to moisten soils and reduce salinity before planting native plants.

    The partnership has worked collaboratively on avian surveys as a variety of migratory and nesting neo-tropical birds can call this place home. The birds include the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and the Federal candidate species yellow-billed cuckoos.   

    The BLM used sandy material from a local Bureau of Reclamation Project to provide the infrastructure needed to create a mesquite bosque from what was once a swamp dominated by tamarisk.  The material was also used to fill in hazardous dry channels within the Betty’s Kitchen area.  Additional efforts include the removal of invasive phragmites and creation of a rock berm for safer access to fishing holes on Mittry Lake. 

    Arizona Western College student interns remain involved in the daily operations of the project, including volunteer leadership, irrigation, monitoring, and data collection. Students collect and analyze data to provide managers with scientifically based information to make the best decisions based on the most recent science available.  The partnership introduces field-based natural resources practices to students who would not normally be exposed to these activities. 

    The BLM educates the college students on natural resource topics, including the wildlife species that will likely use the restored areas once trees have matured and how certain techniques in restoration work better than others.  In addition, the Arizona Western College Science Club encourages students to get involved in growing native trees within the college greenhouse facilities. The trees are donated for volunteer tree planting days sponsored by the National Public Lands Days, Earth Day Events, or other community outreach events.

    BLM-Arizona nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

    Leaders, members and partners from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Canyon Country Youth Corps, and Tamarisk Coalition pose at the completion of their two week training in spring 2013. A corps member working for the BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office in southwestern Colorado cuts Tamarisk in 2012 and follows up with monitoring of secondary weeds and re-treatment the next year.  A 2012 Southwest Conservation Corps Dolores River Restoration Crew proudly displays their accomplishments with a backdrop of a significant slash-pile of Tamarisk.

    Restoration Project Enhances Biodiversity along the Dolores River in Colorado and Utah

    From high in the San Juan Mountains, the Dolores River is a natural wonder, flowing more than 200 miles through southwestern Colorado and weaving through a spectacular  rim rock landscape on its way to the Colorado River north of Moab, Utah. 

    Over time the pristine beauty of the river has been tarnished by invasive plants.  Walls of tamarisk, an invasive Eurasian tree, invaded the area, obstructing the scenic view of the river from a local highway and restricting access to recreational opportunities. The invasive plants also decreased ecological diversity and economic benefits from recreational activities along the river. Russian Knapweed is another invasive plant that infested the area that crowds out natives and reduces habitat quality for wildlife.  Four years ago, a group people who are passionate about river restoration, decided to get together to make a difference, and the Dolores River Restoration Partnership was born.

    The Dolores River Restoration Partnership met the challenge of restoring the river by removing invasive plants and enhancing native plant species, thus increasing biodiversity along the river. In Utah, 6 to 7 miles along the river are under active restoration. In Colorado, about 90 miles are being restored. Approximately half of the 1,700 acres targeted for restoration have been actively treated. The goal is to protect natural resources, provide opportunities for youth, and create local jobs by supporting and funding riparian restoration along the entire Dolores River corridor.   

    The Dolores River Restoration Partnership is a coalition of public and private organizations including the Southwest Conservation Corps, the Walton Foundation, the Tamarisk Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, The Canyon Country Youth Corps, and the BLM. Other key players such as wildlife organizations and private land owners also make hefty contributions. The partnership employs a diverse workforce, including Native American crews and youth conservation corps members.  The project provides young people, including at-risk young adults, with work experience in land management and introduces them to a potential career path. The Conservation/Youth Corps of Southwest, Canyon Country, and Western Colorado have filled approximately 185 positions in support of the Dolores partnership. Youths and Native Americans have logged over 72,000 hours  of service.

    The partnership also provides a scientific foundation for decision making by organizing technical workshops, supporting a monitoring program which provides technical reports and updates, as well as providing a structure for sharing information and experiences for adaptive management. 

    The partnership has successfully enlisted the help of numerous donors and supporters. Approximately 184 volunteers have logged more than 1,600 hours. Project areas include education and outreach, monitoring, and training.

    Education and outreach activities include a grazing management and riparian area workshop, plant identification workshops, an interpretive trail near Gateway, Colorado, monitoring protocol workshops, restoration field trips and site visits, and a meeting on technology transfer and information sharing.

    The success of this project reaches beyond the Dolores River. Knowledge gained has benefited restoration efforts on nearby river systems, including the Colorado River. 

    Take a look at the video put together by a Southwest Conservation Corps Dolores River Restoration Crew

    BLM-Colorado nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.

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