Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gunnison Sage Grouse Conservation Easement in Dove Creek, CO

In 2006, CNHP collaborated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist to create the Dove Creek Potential Conservation Area (PCA) in southwestern Colorado. This PCA was drawn to identify habitats that support one of the seven remaining populations of the federally listed Gunnison sage-grouse. As of 2014, this population (referred to as the Monticello-Dove Creek population) contains only 98 individuals, according to the final listingrule issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Lek count data from 19 years of monitoring are generally well below the Rangewide Conservation Plan population target of 500 breeding birds.

In recent years, in an effort to reverse the population trend, Montezuma Land Conservancy has worked with private landowners to conserve important sage-grouse habitat with conservation easements.  Since 2012, the Conservancy has conserved 3,340 acres of occupied habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse – 2,700 of which is located within the CNHP Dove Creek PCA. The most recent project protected approximately 680 acres of the Dove Creek PCA under a conservation easement. The property contains sagebrush habitats, as well as areas formerly used to grow dryland pinto bean crops which have been replanted into sage brush.  The conservation easement contains a total of 788 acres, and borders BLM land and the Coalbed Canyon State Wildlife Area.

Sagebrush habitats and former pinto bean cropland near Dove Creek, Colorado offer habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse, a species listed as threatened in 2014 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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