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Happy August all!

Here’s hoping everyone has had a chance to get up into the mountains and escape the heat a bit as we muddle through the dog days of summer. We know that most climate models predict more unpredictability, but a general trend of hotter and drier moving forward. Being based in the North Fork Valley and working for strong conservation measures throughout the western slope, we know we need to factor these considerations into long term planning to set realistic expectations of how we can best protect the lands and lifeways we know moving forward into an uncertain future. If you are interested in learning more about what the state of Colorado is thinking around water issues, join us on Monday (Aug 15th) at our Watershed Committee Meeting at 4.30pm to discuss the new draft of the Colorado Water Plan (more details below).

We’ve also got a lot of other opportunities to get involved this month.

And finally this month, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in our raffle! Congratulations to our winner Clay Farland, right here in the North Fork!


For the love of the land and people,

Tanya Henderson

Executive Director

Donate to support our work

Plant trees with us on Grand Mesa on Friday, August 19th!

In continuing with our tree planting projects of 2021, WSCC is excited to announce a tree planting stewardship day on the Grand Mesa. In coordination with the National Forest Foundation, US Forest Service and Seek Outside, participants will join us planting trees in an old timber sale on Grand Mesa. Activities will include using a tree planting tool to plant young trees in the forest in areas where logging has taken place. Sign up at

Can you help us out at Pickin’ in the Park?

Do you love PIP as much as we do? And do you tend to stay until the very last song of the night? If so, we could use some extra hands collecting the recycling and trash bins at the end of the night. You’ll likely see one or more of our staff on the job, sporting headlamps to cut through the dark. Bring a headlamp and pitch in if you are so inclined - - or, leave the headlamp at home and stumble around in the dark with bags of recycling like we did last week 🤣


Saturday, Sept. 3rd: Plant Walk up the Inter-Ocean Pass with Ewelina Badgie

This is an all-time favorite Mike's Hike! Participants will be introduced to the local flora that is in season in the beautiful montane forest and shrubland ecosystem below the Inter-Ocean Pass on the Crawford side. Bring a pencil and paper, as there will be lots of great information that you'll want to retain. Sign up at

Monday, Sept. 26th: Dark Canyon Through Hike with Mike Burkley and Tim Shortell

Enjoy peak fall colors and the wild beauty of the Raggeds Wilderness on this strenuous, 14-mile day hike from Horse Ranch Park to Erickson’s Springs. See more info and sign up at

WSCC Art Walk Call for Submittals

Open call for painting, drawings, photos or other types of art inspired by dark skies, night, sunrise or sunsets. Also a call for wild and wonderful stories about you being “Out All Night.”

WSCC will be participating in the Final Friday Festivities/Art Walk at the end of September with an open house at our office [204 Poplar, Paonia]. We invite our talented and adventurous members to participate. If you have a short story about an adventure in the great outdoors or a piece of art that you would like to show off, you should be part of this event! Please feel free to stretch the theme to suit your needs if you’ve got a good one to share with the rest of us. 

Submission Details

Please take a photo of the piece of art you would like to display along with the measurements of the piece. We can accommodate a few large pieces. Please let us know if you would consider selling the piece of art and donating all or a portion of the proceeds to WSCC. This is not a requirement. You may have more than one piece in the show. 

If you have a story you would like to tell, please send a quick outline of the story or leave a short message at 970-424-1402. The stories must be family friendly, and no longer than 6 minutes in length. The stories will be told twice during the art show, so that you can tell your friends and neighbors when to be there.

If you have something you are just itching to share, please contact event organizer (and beloved Board Member) Allison Elliot at 970-424-1402 or


It has been a big month for our public lands, as the Inflation Reduction Act, which has now passed the Senate and is on to the House before moving to President Biden’s desk, signals significant movement towards achieving our nation’s climate goals.

Locally, we have seen the Town of Paonia adopt a Dark Sky Lighting Ordinance, moving closer towards achieving a Dark Sky Town certification from the International Dark Sky Association.

WSCC has been tracking the proposed development of an asphalt plant near the North Fork of the Gunnison River, along with a new planning process from the Bureau of Land Management to better manage big game species and the impacts that oil and gas development has on their migration corridors.

Finally, our stewardship work never stops, as we wrap up our fabulous trail days event on the heels of an upcoming tree planting day. As always, we can always use your help. If any of this sounds interesting and you wish to get involved, please send an email to or chat with us at our upcoming tabling events.

Until then, we will keep our ears to the ground and fingers to the keyboard protecting and enhancing the lands, air, water, and wildlife of the western slope.

Lots of exciting local watershed news as WSCC continues our Integrated Watershed Management Planning for the North Fork of the Gunnison. We recently partnered with North Fork Farmer’s Ditch to complete a 30% engineering design of the Farmer’s Ditch diversion and headgate. The project will allow water managers to deliver water more efficiently and improve boater and fish passage through the diversion structure.

Speaking of great partnerships, WSCC and Colorado West Land Trust recently received a grant from the Forever our Rivers Foundation to support river health education, river access, and stewardship for kids and adults along the Gunnison River in Delta County. We are looking forward to moving this project forward this fall. 

Looking regionally, the state of Colorado has revised and updated its original Water Plan to better reflect the changes that have been set into motion since the release of the first plan in 2015. The Colorado Water Conservation Board is requesting public comment on the updated Draft Colorado Water Plan until September 30th, before releasing a final version of the plan in early 2023. To read the full plan, share your story, commit to water action, or make a public comment  please visit:  The Colorado Water Plan draft will also be the focal point of discussion at our Watershed Committee meeting next MONDAY (Aug 15). We'd love for you to join us at the Paonia River Park picnic tables at 4.30pm Monday evening.

Our River Watch volunteer water quality program turns 22 this year! Our next river sampling will take place on Aug 17th. This will be our “low flow sampling event” for the year, and while “low flow” doesn’t sound that appealing, it provides some of the most important data for our water quality. If you are interested in joining us next week to see what River Watch is all about please contact to find out more!

Haven't joined us as a volunteer yet, but want to? Click the button below to get on the mailing list for our monthly email that describes upcoming opportunities.

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We are always looking for more voices on WSCC's Volunteer Committees! Our committees (including Public Lands Committee and Watershed Committe) are critical to the success of our programs, organization, community, and environment. We meet once a month. Email for more information.
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Western Slope Conservation Center · 204 Poplar Ave. · PO Box 1612 · Paonia, CO 81428 · USA

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