Learning To Think Like Water & Photos From SGI’s 7th Annual Workshop
June 21, 2017
Building rock structures that restore wet meadows means lots of mud and heavy lifting, but SGI workshop participants had plenty to smile about as they worked together near Gunnison, Colorado.
Sagebrush conservation partners from around the West met in Colorado to learn from each other
Over 170 partners met in Gunnison, Colorado during the Sage Grouse Initiative’s annual mid-June workshop. We heard from ranchers, county commissioners, local non-profits and public land managers about the amazing results that come from working together to achieve a shared vision: healthy sagebrush rangelands for people and wildlife.
Local landowners and partners discussed what’s working for “the bird and the herd” in Colorado, as well as what’s working to conserve habitat and across the range. In Gunnison, for instance, the working lands conservation results are impressive, due in large part to the basin’s community-based, locally-led cooperative efforts that date back two decades.
The focus for this year’s workshop was water. In keeping with our new emphasis on conserving wet habitats through the SGI Mesic Conservation Strategy, we learned from a variety of experts who are restoring wet meadows. The all-day field tour took workshop participants to several wet habitat restoration sites in the Gunnison Basin, as well as to three private ranches in southwestern Colorado’s beautiful high-elevation sagebrush country.
Workshop participants also learned more about the Gunnison sage-grouse, a species found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. These birds occupy 7-10% of their historic range, and were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014.
Thanks in large part to the dedication of ranchers who have conserved intact sagebrush habitat, the largest sub-population of Gunnison sage-grouse is stable.
During the three-day workshop, SGI recognized several conservation leaders who are making a difference for working lands and wildlife. SGI awardees included the local sage grouse working group, and the dozens of partners involved in the Gunnison Wet Meadow Restoration Project.
These quotes from a few of the workshop’s speakers sum up the “can do” attitude of the partners who attended:
- “The ranchers in Gunnison are some of the most durable, hard-working people in the nation,” said John Swartout, Senior Policy Advisor to Colorado Governor Hickenlooper.
- “We’re finding common ground for a common goal: healthy working lands and wildlife in the West,” said Noreen Walsh, regional director of the USFWS.
“The SGI science team works hard to assess outcomes of on-the-ground rangeland restoration to help fine-tune delivery and tell the conservation story,” said Dave Naugle, SGI Science Advisor.
- “Sage grouse isn’t an ag or game issue…it’s a community issue,” Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner.
“What all of you guys have done and achieved here is truly remarkable,” said Thad Heater, SGI coordinator.
Check out the photos below or this video to see what the workshop was all about!
The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.