All three National Conservation Areas in Colorado boast beautiful rivers nestled within their sandstone canyons. Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is expanding our river programs to connect people to their desert rivers through education and restoration. Educating youth and community members on the ecological, cultural, and historical resources of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers builds a committed and responsible community of land users who love and respect the natural treasures right in their backyards. Even more, CCA is expanding our River Stewardship opportunities so the community can actively revitalize the local flora and fauna through monitoring and restoration.
For the next three years, CCA will focus efforts on three sites along the Ruby Horsethief corridor of the Colorado River within the McInnis Canyons NCA. All three sites harbor invasive species which diminish the ecological health and natural beauty of the riparian ecosystems surrounding the river. Volunteers will monitor the sites for changes in vegetation in order to mitigate the growth of invasive plants. Volunteers trained by CCA will record information that helps indicate the overall health of the ecosystem. Information gathered by volunteers will assist the BLM and CCA make comprehensive restoration plans for future projects.
The first restoration site, as the river flows, is Horsethief Bottom. Located below the popular Kokopelli bike trails, Horsethief Bottom will benefit from the removal of tamarisk this winter and into the summer. The next site, the Faultline Camp had its tamarisk removed already, however, following the removal, other weeds moved into the camp. Volunteers will focus on monitoring the spread of weeds and address new problems as they arise. The last site, Dog Island, was set ablaze by irresponsible campers in the summer of 2015. In October 2016, CCA and a crew of volunteers set out to Dog Island to monitor the effects of the fire, plant sumac bushes, and prune cottonwood sprouts. This year, CCA will continue to monitor Dog Island and work to give native plants a fighting chance to survive in the scorched soil.