GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Western Colorado Conservation Corps in partnerships with the Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado State Forest Service and Tamarisk Coalition, are collaborating to improve 20 acres of habitat at Reclamation’s Grand Junction Wildlife Area, located near the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers near downtown Grand Junction, Colorado.
This project is funded through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists grant, awarded to Tamarisk Coalition on behalf of the Desert Rivers Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder partnership focused on improving riparian habitat along the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. This grant was launched as part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which serves to re-connect communities with public lands. Engagement and training of our nation’s young adults is a key tenant of this initiative.
The goal of this project is to improve the health of cottonwood trees that were planted at the wildlife area by Reclamation nearly 20 years ago as part of a habitat mitigation project. While some mortality of the trees was expected after planting, the majority survived, resulting in a thicket of trees that was denser than desired. To improve the habitat at the wildlife area, Conservation Corps chainsaw crews are thinning cottonwood trees to ensure tree health and growth so they are able to provide improved wildlife habitat, soil stabilization and erosion and flood control.
The Conservation Corps is a local youth corps located in Grand Junction, Colorado that utilizes young adults on various land management projects such as; removing tamarisk, spraying noxious weeds, building fences, maintaining trails, etc. The Conservation Corps provides financial support to at-risk youth and young adults in western Colorado, while encouraging them to explore career opportunities and define their career goals.
The Coalition, a regional non-profit with a mission of improving riverside habitat through education, collaboration, and technical assistance, provides leadership for the Collaborative. More information about the habitat improvement work being undertaken by the Collaborative and its partners can be found on the Coalition’s website.