Monday, March 3, 2014

Adapting to Climate Change by Restoring Wetlands

Climate change presents challenges and opportunities for conservation and livelihoods throughout Colorado and rather than standing by and doing nothing we present an example of a restoration strategy that benefits birds, wetlands, groundwater, ranching, and overall health of the landscape while planning for future climate change.  As temperatures rise and precipitation variation becomes even greater than today we can expect frequency and intensity of droughts to increase thus threatening our wetlands that are so important to life.  Restoring our valuable wetlands today will create resilience to a changing climate and help people and nature adapt to the future.

Through a public-private partnership in the Gunnison Basin (initiated by The Nature Conservancy) we completed a two-year pilot project of restoring wet meadow habitats within sagebrush shrublands.  Using simple and non-expensive techniques that utilize local material we raised the water table and reduced erosion by eliminating headcuts.  In less than two years we can already see the benefit of these simple structures.

Thanks go to the Gunnison Climate Working group, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, Wildlife Conservation Society, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, US Fish and Wildlife ServiceSouthern Rockies Landscape Conserrvation Cooperative and private donors,  Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Western State College, Zeedyk Ecological Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy.

The following presentation was created by Strijek Design with assistance from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Click to view a fullscreen presentation 

One can also view a short video of this project here.