Written by Sarah White

On January 1st, 2013, following a combined 60 year history of fighting for our spectacular environment, Colorado Environmental Coalition and Colorado Conservation Voters merged to create Conservation Colorado. Since then, we have hired 9 new staff members, opened a new field office in Durango, and engaged our 16,000 members to take 7,220 actions!

What else have we done? The list goes on, but we picked out 7 notable achievements that we couldn’t have reached without your support.

1) New Faces

We didn’t just hire anyone, we hired the best of the best to inject new energy to the endless tasks we take on to fight for Colorado’s future. Combining old and new has proven to be effective as we saw numerous bills we supported become law this year and took on new campaigns to protect Colorado’s land, air, water, and people. Plus, they certainly made Halloween fun:

2) That Good ‘Ole Rocky Mountain Air

Greenhouse-gas-causing methane harms Coloradans and adds to climate change. Don’t believe us? Just look at the stories we collected on Facebook of Coloradans living with oil and gas operations in their backyards. Basically, it’s a big – huge – deal that Colorado will be the first state to make oil and gas operators capture methane and other harmful pollutants. And, it’s all because of you.

3) Record-breaking events

Turns out our volunteers and members think we put on quite the party – so much so that we had record breaking attendance at almost all of our events this year. From our annual Rebel With A Cause Gala to our Save The Ales beer tasting event, Coloradans came out to support what they love: our state. In addition, we hosted the Beyond The Bones hiking series in Northwest Colorado, the ClimateFest concert in Denver, West Slope Harvest Celebration in Palisade, and the Save The Last Dance book tour all around Colorado.

4) Hey-O Durango!

We started out with offices in Denver, Grand Junction, and Craig, but soon realized that 3 wasn’t enough. So we did something crazy – we started an office in Durango! Our Southwest Organizer, Emily, was welcomed with open arms and plenty of things to start organizing around.

5) Local Grassroots Organizing Pairs Well With National Legislation

Wait a second, Colorado’s wildlife habitats and wilderness areas are being talked about on a national level? That doesn’t happen every year. Both the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act and Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act have widespread support from the communities, local businesses, and elected officials.  We couldn’t be more excited to see the progress these bills have made and to support the Colorado lawmakers who are working to protect them for future generations.

6) Water Planning

It’s one of those things that seems boring and wonky, but necessary. Yet, as Theresa showed us in her popular blog series, Drought Days, water is anything but. From our extreme summer drought to our extreme September floods, water proved more than ever just how vital it is to Colorado. This past year, we joined together with coalition partners to pass a reusable water bill and encouraged Governor Hickenlooper to clean up Colorado’s water – because water is anything but boring. Still don’t believe us? Just watch Colorado Rising, a short film featuring a family’s story about the High Park Fire of 2012:

7) 252 – woot woot!

252 may just be a number to you, but it’s a reason to celebrate for us. We fought hard during the legislative session for common sense safeguards against oil and gas pollution, but their multi-million dollar lobbying efforts pushed us back. However, we won big with Senate Bill 252, which increases access to wind and solar energy across ALL of Colorado. It became law this summer and Colorado will now get cleaner, sustainable energy…and jobs to go along with it.

We can’t put it all in one blog post, but simply put, we have had a good first year. We’re proud of this state and you should be too. But with our first birthday coming up on January 1st, we realize that there’s always more work to be done to protect the state that we love for future generations.

That’s where you come in – we have asked you to make calls, write emails, send in letters, and follow us on social media. And, you have done it all. We couldn’t achieve any successes without you and we definitely couldn’t have accomplished as much as we did without your passion for Colorado. When thinking about who you want to give to this Colorado Gives Day, invest in a sure thing, invest in us and other members and volunteers like you who have made it clear to rest of our state that Colorado’s conservation voice deserves to be heard.

Written by Sarah White

What’s the fuss about a funny little bird that boogies? Why do they matter? Why should we save sage grouse?

Greater sage grouse are found only in North America and much like their smaller, even more imperiled cousin the Gunnison sage-grouse, they are on a path to extinction.  In 2010, they became candidates for protection as an endangered species. It’s not always easy to see why one admittedly odd bird warrants our attention. Turns out saving sage grouse benefits more than the bird. Here are the Top 6 Reasons to save sage grouse:

1. Restores Balance to the Land

Sage grouse are suffering because things are out of balance. We need better land management to restore the balance between wildlife habitat and oil and gas drilling.

2. Brings People Together

We have a common problem: a landscape and a species dependent on it are at risk. Just like the sage grouse, we are dependent on this same ecosystem for recreation, ranching, oil and gas development, etc. This requires people from all walks of life to work together to create effective and enforceable plans that protect the best remaining habitat – plans based on science, not politics.

3. Protects Ranching

Ranch lands and wildlife habitat are often one and the same. Pronghorn and sage grouse share the land with cows. Sage grouse conservation is providing ranchers with new incentives, grazing techniques and funding opportunities that can enhance their operations while also restoring habitat and putting sage grouse on the path to recovery.

4. Benefits other Wildlife

Sage grouse are an important part of the web of life in the West. When we protect habitat for sage grouse, we protect habitat for hundreds of other animals including elk, deer, and antelope, creating a cascade effect for conservation.

5. Supports a Vibrant, Diverse Economy

Once sage grouse provided a source of protein for families and while hunting does happen in some areas, more and more grouse are proving a reason for tourists to visit western communities. In 2013, over 100 people visited Craig, Colorado paying to stay in hotels, consuming 200-300 meals and spending money on fuel and supplies as a result of Conservation Colorado’s grouse tours.

6. Provides a Guarantee for Future Generations

By protecting sage grouse now when the species is still healthy enough to recover, then we ensure that these amazing birds and the wild landscapes upon which they depend, are here for future generations to value and enjoy.

We have a responsibility to leave the world a better place for future generations and that means being good stewards of the land and protecting habitat for all wildlife.

Folks at BLM have been working hard to create a plan to save sage grouse and they need your encouragement to ensure the plan includes the most proactive measures and best science.

 

Do you recall when you were little and were asked “what would you like to be when you grow-up?” At age 3 my answer was that I wanted to grow-up to be a “black stallion.” My love of horses went so deep as for me to desire to be as strong, beautiful & free-spirited as are the wild horses that roam far northwest Colorado.

Pat Mantle was my hero for the simple fact that he owned, what seemed then to be, the most horses in the whole world. As an adult I learned that the Mantles settled in the area now known as Dinosaur National Monument. The Mantle ranch in Hell’s Canyon along the Yampa River was the headquarters for their horse and cattle operation. Horse-whispers before the term was coined, the Mantles would round-up the wild mustangs that still thrive in the region and tame them to the saddle for sale back East or for use in the family’s Sombrero Stables dude and trail horse operation.

The Mantle ranch remains the only private inholding within the over 200,000 acres of Dinosaur National Monument. Their story is recounted by Queeda Mantle Walker in her books, “The Mantle Ranch” & “Last Ranch in Hells Canyon.” The Monument is usually better known for the 80 acre dinosaur quarry in Utah. Those 80 acres were expanded 75 years ago, protecting landscapes far beyond the bones and including lands that surround the historic Mantle ranch. The expansion created friction between the Mantle family and the National Park Service, but it also preserved a culturally and environmentally important part of our State.

You can see the canyons and rivers and historic ranches of Dinosaur National Monument by joining us on one of our Beyond the Bones Tours.The next tour is as on August 25th. The tour is free, but we do require registration to assist in logistics. Please register by this Friday August 23rd.

The drive on August 25th will take us out on the Harper’s Corner Road, down to Echo Park along the river and then out across the Yampa Bench Road where we will have the chance to see the Mantle ranch at Hell’s Canyon.

For me this place is as close to sacred ground as it gets. The place where my family played and where my personal western heroes scrapped-out a living by taming the abundant wild horses. I will be joined by a handful of local characters who are as eager to share their stories as I am to share more of mine.  We hope you’ll join us Beyond the Bones!

Your Field Organizer,

Sasha Nelson

Check out these links for more information: 

Written by Sarah White

Colorado is known for its diverse and unique landscapes and Coloradans take pride in the fact that we have so many wild, beautiful places to play and explore. Conservation Colorado staff has seen a great deal of the state, so we like to think we have a pretty good idea on where to go to see the best of what Colorado wilderness has to offer.

In honor of  Great Outdoors America Week and our Celebration of Wilderness event with Congresswoman DeGette earlier this week, we asked our staff to share some of their favorite places to get outdoors. We encourage you to see these sites firsthand and find out why we hold them so near and dear to our hearts:

Scott Braden, our new Wilderness Advocate, has plenty of suggestions on amazing places to see in Colorado.  One of his favorite getaways is  Yampa River Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument in the Northwest corner of the state. The Yampa is close to Scott’s heart because it is the last wild and undammed river in the Colorado River system.  In Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa plunges into an unexpected serpentine canyon of sandstone, flowing swiftly towards its confluence with the Green River in Echo Park.

Becky Long, our Advocacy Director, prefers the lower Blue Valley in Silverthorne. It’s where her family ranch is and the area is absolutely amazing. The Gore Range, the Blue River, and the open ranchlands symbolize Colorado.

Petrika Peters, one of our Field Organizers in Grand Junction, loves the mountains on the western slope, but the San Juans have a special place carved out in her heart. It’s where she met her partner, fell in love, got married, and spent a special week with mountain goats as the sole visitor to her camp!

Sasha Nelson, another one of our Field Organizers in Craig, knows it’s difficult to narrow down the hundreds of amazing places on the millions of acres of Public Lands up in Northwest Colorado. One that stands out to her is Vermillion Basin, an area of around 100,000 acres, of “badlands” tucked away in far Northwest Colorado. Watching the clouds paint the vermilion bluffs is like seeing a watercolor in motion. What makes this place so magical is its mystery.

Beka Wilson, our Development Director, couldn’t pick just one. She suggests:

  • Gateway, Unaweep Canyon and The Monument.  It’s a great place to see the spectacular red rock, really fun bouldering and unbeatable stargazing!
  • Lost Creek Wilderness is close to the Front Range and is gorgeous!
  • Salida and Brown’s Canyon.  Salida has the best festivals and there is so much to do in around the Collegiate Peaks.
  • Mt Sneffels Wilderness by Telluride.  Best scenery in the state, hands down.

Ben Gregory, our tireless Finance and Operations Director, is all about the Pawnee Buttes for the big open sky and solitude.  Eastern Plains represent!

Our Denver field organizers have their favorite spots too, Becca Strelitz’s favorite place (which tends to change every time she discovers a new area of Colorado) is currently Crater Lakes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It is a relatively easy hike to the first of the lakes from the Moffat Tunnel and the encompass everything you’d imagine Colorado wilderness to entail.

What are your most cherished places to get outdoors in Colorado? We’d love to hear why you cherish our state’s wilderness. We love working to protect these amazing places and ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy them in the same way as we do today.