The Dolores River Restoration Partnership is in the national spotlight. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced it is one of 10 river restoration efforts in the western United States that will serve as a model of the America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative. America’s Great Outdoors launched two years ago to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, support jobs in recreation and tourism, and enhance the quality of life in our communities.
“We’d like to thank Secretary Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management for acknowledging the importance of the restoration work on the Dolores and for contributing to its success,” said Tim Sullivan, the Nature Conservancy’s state director in Colorado.
A major reason restoration is needed is that tamarisk, a non-native plant that has become a major threat to many of our southwestern rivers. The invasive shrub has taken root on more than 1.6 million acres across the West pushing out native plants, altering natural habitats for fish and wildlife, and reducing the tremendous dynamics of the Dolores. So far, 500 acres along 75 miles of the Dolores River have been treated for tamarisk. Youth are playing a big role in that effort. Nine Youth Conservation Corps groups have treated 314 acres, and many of those acres have been re-planted with native willows and cottonwoods.
“Engaging youth in these efforts provides jobs that have a real impact on people and nature,” added Sullivan. “Plus, we’re building a conservation ethic among young adults and they’re getting connected to the outdoors.”
Partnerships are the key to success. The Dolores River Restoration Partnership has garnered significant support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Water Conservation Board and private foundations such as the Terra, Packard, and Walton Family Foundations in addition to a number of important individual donors. Partnerships like this are demonstrating how public and private entities can work together to solve challenging environmental problems across large landscapes.
“As we celebrate this recognition, we have many more hurdles to cross before the Dolores becomes a dynamic and healthy waterway. As we look ahead, improving water flow and streamside restoration are the top priorities,” remarked Sullivan.
To learn more about the important work The Nature Conservancy is doing to protect important land and water in Colorado, visit www.nature.org/Colorado.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy of Colorado