Gunnison County contracts with the Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado (NRCS) to provide wildlife conservation services.
Gunnison Basin, Gunnison Sage-grouse Brood Rearing Habitat/Riparian Resilience/Restoration Project
Wet meadows and riparian areas in sagebrush shrublands provide important brood-rearing habitat for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse, listed as Threatened by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. These habitats are also important for numerous other species, including neo-tropical migratory birds, elk and mule deer, as well as to ranchers for livestock grazing. Wet meadows and riparian areas, already compromised by erosion and lower water tables, are at great risk from drought and high intensity rainstorms associated with a changing climate.
Volunteers will address these challenges by working to restore riparian and wet meadow habitats in sagebrush shrublands in the Upper Gunnison Basin. We will apply the approach of restoration expert Bill Zeedyk, author of Let the Water do the Work: Induced Meandering, An Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels (2012).
Working above 8000 feet, Volunteers will help to build small rock structures in small streams and drainages to raise the water table helping to support plants and insects needed by wildlife.
Camping is available and encouraged at the nearby Miller Ranch State Wildlife Area, owned and managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Food will be provided by talented WRV Volunteer Cooks!
Wildlands Restoration Volunteers is happy to be a partner with so many groups including: Gunnison Climate Working Group Members: Bureau of Land Management-Gunnison Field Office, Colorado Natural Heritage Program; Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Gunnison County, Gunnison Conservation District, Gunnison County Stockgrowers Association, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, Western State Colorado University, and Western Water Assessment.
Notice of Gunnison County, BLM and USFS Road Closures
Gunnison County, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) temporarily closed a number of roads to all motor vehicles to protect Gunnison Sage-grouse during their mating season and to prevent road damage during wet spring conditions. These roads were closed March 15, 2019. County and BLM roads reopened on May 15, 2019, unless it was necessary to extend a closure to prevent resource damage. The U.S Forest Service Closures were extend through June 16, 2019 to protect nesting Gunnison Sage-grouse.
The cooperation of the public is required to successfully implement these road closures. The closures will aid in the preservation of the Gunnison Sage-grouse and may assist in reducing impacts on residents and visitors of Gunnison County from the Federal listing of the grouse under provision of the Endangered Species Act. Copies of the closure list and maps are available with link, and at Gunnison County Public Works, 195 Basin Park Drive, Gunnison County Community Development Department, 221 N. Wisconsin; Colorado Parks and Wildlife office, 300 W. New York; Bureau of Land Management office, 210 West Spencer, Unit A, and the U.S. Forest Service office, 216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, Colorado. These closures apply to all motor vehicles. Do not park at the closures in a manner that blocks access through the closure gates. All non-motorized trail users are also requested to use Gunnison Basin roads/trails only after 9a.m. during this period to help reduce disturbance to Sage-grouse. For additional information call Gunnison County Public Works at 641-0044; BLM at 642-4940; or the USFS at 641-0471.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Gunnison Sage-grouse Listing Decision
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Gunnison Sage-grouse as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act.
Gunnison County Files Notice of Intent to Sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regarding the Gunnison Sage-grouse Listing Decision and Critical Habitat
Federal Register Proposed Rule on the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo
On October 3, 2014 the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo was listed as a threatened species (see Listing Rule (PDF)).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed critical habitat for the cuckoo, and the comment period will close on January 12, 2015 (see Proposed Designation (PDF)).
Saguache County Sage-grouse Information
Visit the Saguache County website for additional information on the Gunnison Sage-grouse.
Antler Collection Now Closed In Gunnison Basin
The Colorado Parks & Wildlife released an article in the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Insider informing that antler collection is now closed in the Gunnison Basin. Collection of shed antlers is prohibited on public lands within units 54, 55, 551, 66 and 67 from January 1st through March 14th. Shed antler collection is prohibited from legal sunset to 10 am from March 15th through May 15th. For more information, please visit or contact the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Strategic Committee Information
Development of the Group
The Gunnison Sage-Grouse, a unique species of North American grouse, is a year-around resident of Gunnison County.
In 1995 local stockgrowers, environmental groups, Gunnison County, and state and federal agencies formed a "Local Working Group" to address concerns about the future of this species. This group completed the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan in 1997. In response to a petition in 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as a candidate species for threatened or endangered status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2005 the status of the species was upgraded on the candidate list for consideration of listing.
Having long been involved with management of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse, Gunnison County has been and will continue to be proactive to ensure the preservation of this unique and important species.
Wildlife Conservation Coordinator Jim Cochran works with the Board of County Commissioners, the Gunnison Basin Sage-Grouse Strategic Committee, federal and state agencies, private landowners, and interested citizens to plan, manage, and coordinate the development of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Action Plan (PDF).
This plan guides Gunnison County as it moves into the future, insuring that the Gunnison Sage-Grouse will always flourish in our county and the upper Gunnison basin.
The Gunnison County Sage-grouse Conservation Action Plan (PDF) was formally adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on October 20, 2009.
It is the policy of Gunnison County that the following goals and action steps be adopted and implemented in regards to the potential listing of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as an endangered species.
The first goal of Gunnison County is to implement steps which will aid in the preservation of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse.
The board recognizes and understands that the original intent of the Sage-Grouse Mitigation Fund was to mitigate the effect of the landfill on the sage-grouse. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the position that only projects implemented on non federal land can be counted towards this mitigation. The board has taken the position that the preservation and improvement of habitat irrespective of location is more important than specific mitigation of the effects of the landfill.
Therefore the board directs the Sage-Grouse Mitigation Committee to implement the work plan in the organizational procedures and guidelines (PDF) in terms of looking at funding of quality projects irrespective of location.
The board has decided a complete review of the Labor Utilization Report (LUR) needs to be conducted to determine what revisions need to be made to further protect sage-grouse habitat. Further the board directs staff to move forward with the process to develop a special area as part of the LUR, in particular researching the potential for the development of a Habitat Conservation Plan.
This approach may result in the establishment of special rules for sub areas of the county where sage-grouse habitat exist. The board has determined that the "Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Priority Regions in the Gunnison Basin" which was developed by the Gunnison Basin Working Group Research Sub-Committee, would be a reasonable starting place.
Negotiate multiple Certificates of Inclusions with the Defenders of Wildlife (DOW) CCAA for all appropriate county property.
The second goal of Gunnison County is to minimize disruption to current activities. In order to accomplish this goal the following action steps will be implemented:
- Work with the regulatory agencies to develop uniformity of requirements that are consistent and predictable.
- Convene a meeting of the Sage-grouse Working Group to discuss formalizing the membership, adding additional members for broader representation, developing procedures, and discussing flexibility in the local plan.
- Work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), forest service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to insure a coordinated review process for review of permits and projects.
- Work with the BLM, forest service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to insure that all grazing permits which will expire in the next 18 to 24 months are reviewed and renewed in a timely manner.
- Schedule a meeting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to discuss the renewal of permits and obtain clear information on the implication of the proposed listing as well as the process for review. In particular a clear understanding of the regulations is desired.
The third goal of Gunnison County is to further collaboration and communication and in particular to develop mechanisms to effectively deal with rumors and misinformation. In that regard the board adopts the following action steps:
- Work with the BLM's public relations department to develop press releases which contain factual information.
- Develop a subpage on the county's website to respond to the most frequently asked questions with links to the DOW, BLM, forest service, National Research Council (NRC), and Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA).
The fourth goal of Gunnison County is to implement an effective strategy and programs which will which will preclude the need to list the Gunnison Sage-Grouse or at a minimum demonstrate the willingness of the Gunnison community to preserve and protect habitat which will lessen the impact if listing does occur.
In order to accomplish the above goals and strategies the Board of County Commissioners will create the position of sage-grouse coordinator which will have the primary responsibility to implement the identified programs.
Click here to view resolutions.
A pre-application conference request form is used to request a pre-application conference with the Community Development Department, the wildlife conservation coordinator, and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) for land use change (LUC), OWTS, access and building permits.
Live Lightly on the Landscape
Click the following link to view the Live Lightly on the Landscape (PDF).