By: Renee Rondeau
(Conservation Planner and Ecologist)
CNHP is one of many entities working collaboratively to restore wet meadow and riparian habitat in the Gunnison Basin. Our working group was just awarded this year’s national “2019 Wings Across the Americas Conservation Award: Habitat Conservation Partnership Award.” It is such an honor for CNHP to work with this amazing group of partners, including USFS, BLM, CPW, TNC, Zeedyk Consulting, BioLogic Consulting, NRCS, and private landowners. Our primary goal was to restore wet meadows that Gunnison Sage Grouse rely on for raising their chicks during the summer season. Gunnison Sage Grouse chicks require abundant insects and succulent forbs which become very sparse in their sagebrush habitat as the summer progresses. The only reliable source of food is found in these wet meadows nestled amongst a sea of sagebrush. Our restoration project carefully placed rocks and logs along some 30 miles of wet meadows and riparian habitat, using Zeedyk structures with names like Media Luna, Zuni Bowl, and worm ditch, and rock-run-down. These simple structures are designed to slow the water down, reconnect the floodplain, and bring back the meandering nature of a streambed. While some structures can almost resemble an art project, they eventually blend in with the landscape and disappear from our view. Meanwhile, CNHP has documented that wetland plant cover has increased by nearly 70% in restored areas, ensuring that Gunnison Sage Grouse chicks have ample insects and succulent forbs.
More information about the Wings Across The Americas conservation award can be found in https://www.fs.fed.us/global/wings/awards.htm.