May 01, 2010

Effort on Gunnison River Moves into National Conservation Area

Photography | Above: Rafting the Gunnison River. Photo by Jeff Widen.

Western Rivers Conservancy has committed to purchase nearly 400 acres of spectacular canyon country along several miles of the Lower Gunnison River in Colorado. The private property is surrounded by the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA), a newly designated region that is home to ancient fossil beds, red rock canyons and desert flora and fauna. Once the property is acquired, Western Rivers Conservancy will convey it to the Bureau of Land Management to become part of the NCA, protecting critical riverside habitat.

The Gunnison is Colorado’s second largest river. Near its confluence with the Colorado River itself, the Gunnison’s lower stretches sweep past rocky bluffs, desert slopes, and riparian thickets of cottonwood. This is one of few places where the four species of Colorado basin warm-water fish still survive: Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail chub and razorback sucker. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated this reach of the Gunnison as critical habitat for these species.

In addition to this property, Western Rivers Conservancy is also purchasing inholdings along the lower Gunnison River several miles downstream, adjacent to the BLM-managed Bangs Canyon Special Management Recreation Area (SMRA).

Together, these acquisitions will enhance what is already being recognized as a critically important landscape worthy of protection for endangered species, historical preservation and public enjoyment.

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