Thursday, July 23, 2009

Statewide Strategies for Colorado Wetlands

by Joanna Lemly, CNHP Wetland Ecologist

Statewide Strategies for Colorado Wetlands is a collaborative effort by CNHP and the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Wetlands Program that aims to determine the types, abundance, threats to, and level of protection currently provided to Colorado’s wetlands and to initiate the process of assessing their ecological condition. The outcome of these efforts will be the development of a statewide strategy for protecting and restoring wetlands in Colorado for the benefit of wetland-dependent wildlife.

Rio de los PinosThe Rio de los Pinos in southern Colorado

This project pulls together existing geospatial data for wetlands in Colorado to establish a single, standardized, centralized database that contains the current knowledge of wetlands in Colorado and will make this data available via the web to wetland conservation partners statewide. Digital spatial data for wetlands are currently being compiled, and existing paper maps from the National Wetlands Inventory have been scanned and digitized for the Rio Grande Headwaters and North Platte river basin, adding new digital spatial data that were previously unavailable.

In addition, this project will begin to assess the ecological condition of Colorado’s wetlands by carrying out a pilot wetland condition assessment in the Rio Grande Headwaters river basin. As part of the pilot assessment, over 115 wetlands were surveyed during the summer of 2008 and an additional 60 sites are currently being surveyed during the 2009 field season.

Wetlands field crewThe Rio Grande field team surveying a plot

For more information on wetlands assessment, see our 2009 report "Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI) for Headwater Wetlands in the Southern Rocky Mountains" (9.7 Mb pdf) or search our website for previous wetlands reports.

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