by Joanna Lemly, CNHP Wetland Ecologist
CNHP serves as a collaborative research partner to CPW’s Wetlands Wildlife Conservation Program, providing essential information and tools to help CPW target wetland conservation where it is needed most. This partnership is funded primarily by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but would not be possible without CPW’s matching contributions. There are four focal areas to the CPW-CNHP partnership:
- Digital Wetland Mapping. CNHP and CPW have worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetland Inventory and many funding partners to complete digital wetland mapping for Colorado. Prior to this collaboration, Colorado had little digital wetland mapping and it was impossible to calculate wetlands acres. Now these data can be used to quantify wetland acres in public and private ownership, locate important wetland complexes, and identify wetlands threatened by development. By the end of 2013, the CNHP-CPW will have increased the total coverage of digital wetland mapping mapping data to 90%!
|Map of Colorado’s Digital Wetland Mapping Status, 2013|
- Wetland Assessment Protocols. In collaboration with CPW, CNHP has developed a suite of field and GIS-based wetland tools to assess the overall condition of wetlands and the quality of habitat available for CPW’s priority wetland-dependent wildlife species. These tools can be used to evaluate habitat need in a given watershed or management unit and to evaluate the success of restoration projects.
|Modeled Priority Duck Habitat on the Lower South Platte River Basin|
- Basinwide Wetland Condition Assessments. CNHP and CPW have carried out three river basin-scale wetland condition assessment studies. Randomly selected wetlands are visited in each basin to estimate the overall range in wetland condition. To date, over 300 wetlands have been surveyed. These studies provide a baseline understanding of wetlands, the threats they face, and the availability and/or need for habitat in each basin, helping CPW target restoration projects.
|Map of Basinwide Wetland Condition Assessments|
- Education and Outreach Tools. With essential CPW matching funds, CNHP has developed several important education and outreach tools. Early in 2013, CNHP released the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants, an information and photo rich publication that describes over 600 wetland plant species and emphasizes each species beneficial use by wildlife. This publication was distributed to each CPW Wildlife Technician. A series of shorter Pocket Guides to Wetland Plants are in the works for each major region in the state. Along with the field guides, CNHP and CPW have developed online resources about wetlands, including an online wetlands mapper.
|Cover of the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants|