Gunnison Conservation District

Partnership Success Story

The Gunnison Basin is dominated by sagebrush. Within the sagebrush habitat, there are narrow strips of riparian and wet meadow habitats. These areas are important because they provide habitat to a variety of wildlife species. One species in particular is the Gunnison Sage-grouse, a species currently listed as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Due to past land uses, riparian habitats have been altered and degraded which negatively affects habitat quality and quantity. Without active restoration, there will be a loss of riparian and wet meadow habitats which will adversely impact a variety of species that depend on them. In 2015, the Gunnison Conservation District partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (formerly Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory), Habitat Partnership Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, and a private landowner to implement a large   riparian habitat restoration project across both U.S. Forest Service land and privately owned land. In this riparian area, the plant species composition was shifting from moist soil plant species to less desirable dry soil species. Soil moisture retention was being reduced through water channelization and gulley development. In order to reduce habitat degradation and loss, the Gunnison Conservation District worked with Bill Zeedyk, Zeedyk Ecological Consulting, to restore the system’s hydrology by building rock structures designed by Bill Zeedyk to accomplish grade stabilization and repair the altered and degraded habitat. By repairing the gully, the system’s hydrology will be restored thus increasing the soil's ability to hold water longer, decreasing plant stress, increasing plant production and vigor, and building in more resistance to soil erosion.