This fall, as a part of our growing river stewardship and education programs at CCA, we had the pleasure of hosting three senior Capstone students from Colorado Mesa University’s Environmental Sciences and Technology undergraduate program. They specifically spent the semester working in the field and on campus, to develop an ecological restoration and monitoring plan for a very important parcel of private land located along the Colorado River within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Their in-depth analysis not only provides us with a better understanding of the native vegetative communities found along the river, but also offers valuable recommendations regarding science-based restoration techniques. These techniques can be used in the coming years as we work to develop the parcel into a location where we can offer place-based youth programs during the spring and summer seasons.
Many of the recommendations made by the Capstone team focus on ensuring the long-term success of the site. The Western Colorado Conservation Corps's team recently visited the property to remove a high density of invasive tamarisk trees from 1.5 acres of the property since these trees are prone to harbor other weedy species. The Capstone team’s plan will serve the ecosystem by providing guidance to give natives species the space to thrive on this acreage. Beyond the direct ecosystem benefits derived from the plan’s implementation, a corollary benefit will be our own ability to physically access the site with students and volunteers. With the Capstone team’s expert knowledge serving as the foundation for our future education programs on the property, the stage is well set for CCA to build an impressive learning landscape. This will be enjoyed by students of all ages, on the banks of the Colorado River, in the heart of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.