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Happy September all!

Not only has the summer heat broken and the promise of fall is in the air, but September is a month that holds a few great reasons to celebrate our public lands. Saturday September 24th is the fourth Saturday in September and is officially National Public Lands Day! Much like Earth Day, we don’t need a day to live our public land values and gratitudes, but it’s always nice to have an excuse to center a day around our public lands. Take an extra moment, maybe take a hike, gain some elevation, and appreciate how much our public lands do for us. They are a wonderful solace to escape to, a way to unplug and recharge as individuals. They also provide invaluable ecosystem services to our collective society. Thank you all for working with us to make sure our lands are managed for conservation - we appreciate all your efforts showing up at meetings and volunteer days, providing public comments, and being engaged and involved advocates and stewards on the public lands that surround us here on the Western Slope.

September is also National Wilderness Month, and has been since the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In Colorado, especially in our region, we are lucky to have easy access to wilderness areas. It’s a beautiful time to visit them on a hike or a hunt, regardless of your recreational activity, remember your safety vests this time of year.  We’d love to hear your wild thoughts and wilderness experiences!

For the love of the land and people,

Tanya Henderson

Executive Director

Donate to support our work

Sept 17: Sage-Grouse Habitat Improvement Event

Every year, volunteers come together around National Public Lands Day to help restore and improve public lands in their backyard. Join our partners the Colorado Canyons Association and the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday, September 17th to help restore critical habitat for the threatened Gunnison sage-grouse on a property near Crawford. Sign up at bit.ly/3L7gQci

Sept 26: Mike’s Hikes - 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. Sign up at bit.ly/3vRBIOx

Sept 29: Pint Night

Join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and WSCC on Thursday, September 29th at Chrysalis Barrel Aged Beer in Paonia at 6:30pm. WSCC’s Ben Katz and BHA’s Colorado Chapter Leader Adam Gall will be providing updates on current events and priorities. RSVP at bit.ly/3QCzzxC

Sept 29: Volunteer Resource Fair

Are you looking for ways you can give back to your community? Stop by the Volunteer Resource Fair at Crawford Town Hall (425 Hwy CO-92) between 3:30 and 8:00 pm on Thursday, September 29th. WSCC will be one of many non-profit organizations at the fair that can let you know about volunteering opportunities in the area. This event is sponsored by North Fork Senior Connections, Region 10 RSVP and Crawford Chamber of Commerce.  

Sept 30: Friday Frolic Art Walk

WSCC is participating in Paonia’s Final Friday Frolic on September 30th, from 5:00 - 7:00 PM. We are thrilled to be able to host local artist Paul Gaydos and display his beautiful, nature-inspired watercolors. Stop by our office at the corner of 2nd and Poplar Street (just behind Wink Wink Salon) to talk with the artist and chat with WSCC Board and Staff members about our work. A portion of the proceeds from art sales benefits WSCC.

Nov 18: Mountainfilm on Tour

Mountainfilm is coming back to Paonia on Friday, November 18th, bringing a selection of culturally rich, adventure-packed and inspiring documentary films curated from the Mountainfilm festival held every Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado. More info coming soon!

There is a little bit of fall in the air as leaves are beginning to change in the North Fork valley. The monsoon season of 2022 was a welcome respite from previous dry years and helped bolster late season irrigation flows. With the monsoonal pattern behind us, let’s hope that a wet fall will carry into a snowy winter!  

October 1st marks the beginning of a new water year here in Colorado and every year our River Watch team wades into the North Fork downstream of Paonia to kick rocks and search for benthic creatures that lurk on the bottom of the river. Monitoring populations of macroinvertebrates is one the most important things we do for water quality in our river. These tiny bugs are the "canary in the coal mine" for river systems and are excellent indicators of environmental changes. Our sampling includes a full site assessment, flow measurements, and kick quadrants to collect a representative population of bugs at our site. We will also be collecting water quality samples at our regular sample site locations. Come join us on Wednesday, October 5th, 8:30am at the CSU Organic Agriculture Research Station (OARS), where we will meet and break up into teams before heading out to sites. Please RSVP to Jake@theconservationcenter.org and let me know if you will be able to attend.

On other fronts, we continue to work on securing funding for an improved diversion structure on the North Fork Farmer’s ditch. The completed project will improve water managers’ ability to deliver water efficiently and improve boater and fish passage at the diversion. Stay tuned for my updates on this exciting project.

Finally, here’s a final reminder that 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. WSCC will be submitting comments along with other partners and we encourage you to submit yours! To read the full plan, share your story, commit to water action, or make a public comment  please visit:  https://engagecwcb.org/

In August, WSCC volunteers were able to get some significant stewardship work completed on our local public lands. We had an incredibly successful multi-day Trail Days event, in which 10 volunteers joined WSCC and partners from the US Forest Service in trail maintenance activities up the Sink Creek and Lone Pine trails outside of Crawford. This event was only possible due to funding from the Roundup Riders of the Rockies. Later on in the month, volunteers planted over 300 trees on Grand Mesa with the help of Grand Junction-based gear company Seek Outside and the US Forest Service. Both of these projects will have lasting impacts on our public lands, and are the simple reason we do what we do here at WSCC. We give volunteers opportunities to get out on the ground and make impacts that will benefit our lands, water, wildlife, and way of life on the western slope of Colorado. 

We have seen some significant movement with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act earlier this month. Sen. Bennet and Sen. Hickenlooper recently sent a letter to President Biden asking that he: 1) designate Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale - Continental Divide National Monument; 2) protect the Thompson Divide from new oil and gas leasing and mining through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) mineral withdrawal, and; 3) use the upcoming land management plan revisions of the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests and other administrative tools to provide interim protection for areas within the forests that were proposed by the CORE Act for protection as designated wilderness, special management areas, or through mineral withdrawals. As reported by the Washington Post, President Biden is contemplating whether to designate Camp Hale as a National Monument in the coming weeks. 

Finally, our work continues on administrative plans like the GMUG Forest Plan, mentioned above. A recent email from the US Forest Service indicates that the final plan will be released “later winter or early spring of 2023.” We know that our community has a vested interest in the outcomes of that plan, and we have fought hard for protections for lands, water, and wildlife included within the planning process. As things move forward, we will be sure to keep you in the know. If you want to get involved in this planning process, feel free to reach out to Ben Katz, Public Lands Program Director, at ben@theconservationcenter.org.

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 Committee) are critical to the success of our programs, organization, community, and environment. We meet once a month. Email info@theconservationcenter.org 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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