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29 October 2019

Utilizing Partnerships to Protect our Home

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At the US Forest Service Gunnison Ranger District, we work with a variety of partners from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and different volunteer groups.

We come together to work on a couple of things that are important to everyone in the community. The main thing that brings all these groups together is climate mitigation which in turn helps protect water and keep it in the ground, protect wildlife species and threatened species such as the Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and improves our sage-steppe ecosystems.  

From about mid-July to the second week of September, I helped move about 50 tons of rock, and possibly more than that, in order to prepare for two major volunteer events at the beginning of September. I was given the chance to work alongside the Western Colorado Conservation Corp, BLM technicians, Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees and many others while moving all these rock across the landscape with trucks, ATV’s and rock loaders. We worked hard for days at a time to complete this work so that volunteers could come in and build structures based on Zeedyk restoration techniques.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Nate Seward, building a one rock dam with a class from Western Colorado University

Most of our work is primarily in sagebrush rangelands right now, as pictured above, on BLM, FS, private and state land. This is a unique system that provides habitat and food for a variety of wildlife and forage for cattle. Intermixed in this system are meadows (not pictured) where we do a lot of work in or on a stream leading into the small meadows. This work provides an array of services from building up stream beds to spreading water across an area to make available more forage and habitat for different wildlife species, particularly birds.

Rock was staged in time for both volunteer events and allowed us to bring a class out from Western Colorado University to one of the sites to learn about the importance of restoring these meadows and how to build a couple of the structures. The students pictured were working with Nate Seward, from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to build a rock dam which helps slow water down, catch sediment and build up the stream bed. In the end, this structure helps raise the water table, build up the stream and spread out water during high-flows or flashfloods.

The Wetland Restoration Volunteers (WRV) and High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) were the two groups that came out and did work on all the sites. There was a total of six days that we had between 20 to 35 volunteers building structures. They helped build over 80 different structures that will improve the different ecosystems. This was a successful project year where people came together and tended to the needs of the environment and mitigated climate change.

Collaborations like these allow the Gunnison Ranger District to do more work on public lands for our local community. Community members in Gunnison, Colorado appreciate the work we do and assist in a variety of ways to help mitigate climate change and protect our ecosystems and livelihoods. It is important for us to consider partnerships like these when doing large scale projects as it allows us to complete them on a shorter timeframe and make a great impact to protect our home.

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342