Coalition for the Upper South Platte

Your donations keep CUSP crews and volunteers on the ground protecting the water quality and ecological health of the South Platte watershed. CUSP leverages contributions as matching funds for grants and on-the-ground work. Your investment is maximized to protect the Upper South Platte watershed.

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Monitoring, Assessment and Planning

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Families
General Public
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

Quality water is essential for ecological health, sustainable drinking water sources, and our continued enjoyment of our watershed resources. Protecting water quality is a core part of CUSP's mission and a definitive indicator of watershed health. We strive to understand water quality conditions and proactively address pollution throughout the watershed.

Assessment and planning programs include Baseline Air Quality (pre-oil and gas drilling), Mines and Mineral Extraction Assessments, Park County Water Resources Inventory and the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

In 2017 the Park County Commissioners and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment contracted with CUSP to complete water quality studies to document the impact of historic mining in the area.

Environmental Education & Outreach

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Children ages 5 to 21
Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

Environmental education and service learning projects in the Upper South Platte Watershed go hand in hand with the lessons learned in the classroom. We provide students opportunities to apply learning while engaging in meaningful service in their community. The program is designed to meet Colorado state standards with a focus on 21st Century Learning and STEM skills.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The long term commitment of returning service learning groups: STEM groups, the American Jewish Service Society, United Methodist Church youth groups, and Young Environmental Stewards, is a strong indicator of our success. Engaging challenged youth and those in rural communities is especially rewarding as they become aware of resources and values at risk in their role in helping.

From Gay Carlson at Rick's Center for Gifted Children, DU regarding their service learning project:

During the final weeks of school our focus was Projects with a Purpose: efforts designed to make a difference in our world. We were fortunate to again work with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. This time we headed up the hill to Guanella Pass on a cold and wet spring day. Three classes of third and fourth grade students joined forces to restore degraded, non-sanctioned camp area to its natural state. Initially, the kids were cold and hesitant to be out in the elements. However, they quickly lost sight of the temperature once they started digging, hoeing, and reseeding disrupted plots with native grass seed. They could see the impact their effort was producing, and it was great fun to be entrusted with grown-up tools to accomplish the task. They were pleased to know that their work in these spaces "will improve habitat along riparian and wildlife corridors."

The children became increasingly invested in the project when they started dismantling makeshift fire pits in the area. It was like
uncovering buried treasure to discover the variety of trash people would toss into their illicit campfire rings. One boy aptly remarked, "I don't get it. Why would people who like to camp treat a national forest this way? It doesn't make any sense." We agreed.

The staff at CUSP were terrific with the children, and the project was both well-organized and a perfect choice for our age group. The work instilled stewardship and an appreciation for our public lands. It was truly a "Project with a Purpose" thanks to the expert guidance of the staff.

Invasive Species Mitigation

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Animals
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

This program treats invasive plant species within the Upper South Platte watershed and surrounding areas. Noxious weeds are non-native invasives that displace desirable vegetation and degrade natural and agricultural lands. They threaten our drinking water supply, agricultural crops, pasture lands and native habitats for fish and wildlife.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

In 2017 CUSP inventoried 427 acres and was able to treat 270 acres for a range of invasive noxious weeds. CUSP successfully integrates weed management with other projects, such as river cleanup and restoration, trail maintenance, fire rehabilitation and forest health projects. This is a great opportunity for our staff to educate volunteers about noxious weed management and the benefits of their efforts.  CUSP leverages funds for the program with in-kind match from CUSP, stakeholders, landowners, and volunteers.

Forest Health and Resliency

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Animals
General Public
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

This is a vital program that reduces the risk of catastrophic fire and property loss through mitigation assistance for property owners; operating the neighborhood fuels reduction programs with of three slash drop-off sites, as well as a chipping program. These resources create defensible space for homeowners, and significantly protects WUI (Wildland/Urban Interface) communities from wildfires. These projects are mostly completed with volunteers, and includes: Community Wide Fire Protection Plans; chipping days for individuals, subdivisions and HOA's, creating Firewise communities and creating healthier, more insect and disease resilient forests.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Reduced incidence catastrophic fire is the biggest indicator of this program's success. A healthier forest, resilient to insect and disease, is our ultimate goal. Improved water quality and decreased post-fire flooding of homes, property and infrastructure evidence our success.

From Chuck and Mary Ann Todd
Ridgewood CWPP committee members:

"The CUSP organization has had an extremely beneficial impact in our Ridgewood sub-division. They were instrumental in providing guidance and assistance in the development of our Community Wildfire Protection Plan which was approved in 2004. This CWPP was an essential step to help many of our neighbors participate in cost share and grant programs to provide much needed property mitigation.

For many years CUSP has provided their chipper and a crew for our two annually scheduled neighborhood volunteer supported chipping days. This helps manage our property owners' mitigated slash. We have officially been designated as a "Firewise" community.

No neighborhood can be fully protected from a rampant wildfire. All property owners have a responsibility to their neighbors and the forest that we love to do their part to reduce the spread of fires as well as help protect the safety of the firefighters working to save our homes.

I am proud of the work our community continues to do to make our homes more defensible and to help maintain a healthy forest. I sincerely appreciate and am thankful to the entire CUSP family for their continued aid, education, cooperation and the support of their skilled staff which makes all this possible."

Emergency Response and Mangement

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

Animals
Families
General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

Emergency response to disaster includes a seven person wildland firefighting crew on staff. CUSP rehabilitates wildfire burn areas and assists with flood mitigation during and after fire recovery.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Homes, schools and businesses are being protected. CUSP is able to work across public and private boundaries to help in the areas of greatest need.

CUSP continues work in the area of the 2002 Hayman fire. A multi-year restoration in Horse Creek began in 2017 with volunteer assistance from a local 4x4 club and boy scouts. The following work was completed: Built 191 flood and erosion mitigation structures. Raked, seeded and mulched 4 acres. Installed 7,926 sq feet of Jute Matting. Planted 2,050 trees in Horse Creek, and planted an additional 750 trees (donated by the Elpaso Bar Assn) in the Waldo Canyon burn scar.

Habitat Restoration

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Animals
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts

Description

Our watershed has a diverse landscape including forests and range land, with elevations varying from about 6,000 feet to over 14,000 feet above sea level. This diversity provides critical habitat to many rare and sensitive species, including the Pawnee Montane Skipper, Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse, Northern Spotted Leopard Frog, and Silver Willow.

A core part of our mission is to promote ecological health and improve habitat. We value and respect the wildlife that share the watershed, and our projects are designed to improve their habitat in promoting watershed health.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Habitat and river restoration work in Trail Creek has successfully reduced erosion and flood impacts, keeping approximately 16,000 tons of sediment out of the South Platte River each year. This is a considerable accomplishment that improves aquatic habitat, overall water quality and helps protect the water supply for fish, wildlife and Colorado residents.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.