Headwaters of the ColoradoRestoration of the entry to one of the United States most important rivers
Through this novel program, SfL is distilling from emerging research and on-the-ground cross-boundary multi-dimensional private-public convenings, lessons learned to develop organizational approaches and programming recommendations to guide large scale, cross-boundary collaborations that are designing and implementing watershed restoration and management of mountain forests-grassland meadow working landscapes to anticipate and adapt to changing climatic and land use conditions.
In Phase One of this project, we identified key processes driving ecosystem change and explored various forest and grazing management and forest and wet meadow restoration approaches to improving watershed health and climate resilience. Our findings are outlined in a report that offers a recommended organizational approach and program for cross-boundary, public-private, multistakeholder led watershed restoration and management of mountain forests-grassland meadow working landscapes.
Looking back over the past year, we are awestruck by what farmers have accomplished together through Solutions from the Land in 2022. The farmer- and rancher-led SfL board of directors started the year by launching a global...
When Pat O’Toole looks across the national forests on the Wyoming-Colorado border, where his family grazes sheep and cattle on both private and public lands, he sees a difficult situation — hundreds of thousands of acres of overcrowded and dead, downed trees. “A...
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the Colorado River’s two large reservoirs, are currently below 25 percent of capacity and new federal cuts in water usage are coming as the states have failed to reach agreement on a deadline to apportion 15 percent cuts across the...
Urgent Need for Action
The need for large landscape collaborative restoration projects has never been more critical. Far downstream from the headwaters, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the Colorado River’s two large reservoirs, are currently at 28 percent of capacity. New federal cuts in water usage are coming as the states have failed to reach agreement on a deadline imposed in June to apportion 15 percent cuts across the region. The $15 billion agriculture industry in the region uses about 75 percent of the river’s water supply across the seven states and would be hit hard by the reductions.
As the climate continues to change and becomes increasingly variable, ranchers more than ever need drought management and climate smart strategies for conserving this unique landscape, home of the Sage Grouse, the Mountain Bluebird, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, the Evening Grosbeak and a wide variety of plant and animal communities. The seasonality of elevations from sagebrush steppes, high plateaus, and 6,000 ft valleys to high elevation pastures under 13,000 ft mountain peaks influence rancher decisions about livestock species and breeds, forage mixes and management, public land permits, stocking rates, locations of ranch stock ponds and reservoirs, timing of breeding and herd mobility. Managing this complex forest-grassland region of private and public grazing lands under variable local weather and a changing climate is no easy task and an urgent priority.
Key to Success
The key to success of large landscape scale restoration projects is engaging a cross-boundary, integrated collaborative group of stakeholders to jointly design a bottom-up program of restoration work that reflects scientific and local indigenous knowledge and experience, and proposes practical, flexible climate smart adaptive management strategies that public and private landowners can co-jointly embrace and invest in.
Cross-boundary design teams composed of agricultural, conservation, environmental, academic, government and business stakeholders are critical partners in the development of large-scale comprehensive multi-year plans of work. These collaborative teams are needed for large scale watershed restoration and management of mountain forests-grassland meadow working landscapes that anticipate and have capacities to adapt to accelerating changes in climatic and land use conditions.
Let us be restorers of the land
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