Scientists agree climate change is real and that the changing climate is already affecting our region. Central Colorado, with many large undeveloped areas and a broad range of life zones, can serve as a refuge for animals and plants impacted by climate change. Through our inventories of wild and roadless areas and our Wild Connections Conservation Plan, we have identified a network of protected core areas and connecting habitat. We have used this knowledge where it counts - in affecting the everyday policies and decisions of public land management agencies.We now need to identify which areas will be the most resilient in the face of changing climate
Wild Connections Conservation Plan will be updated to identify climate refugia and recommend how those special areas can be connected and preserved. In 2018 we are educating the public and beginning a campaign to support revising the plan.
Mutual, Membership Benefit
Wild Connections, Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition and Pikes Peak Group of Sierra Club and other partners cosponsor frequent hikes to some of the prime wild areas in our region. Destinations include lands administered by both BLM and the Forest Service, Browns Canyon National Monument and designated Wilderness areas. In 2018, we will organize over 20 hikes to introduce wild lands to dozens of new participants.
We will be updating our maps of roadless areas to reflect current conditions and to plan for climate change.
Some hike participants have volunteered for work days or roadless area inventories, and about one-third contribute financially to Wild Connections.
Wildlands Conservation is our proactive approach to conservation across the landscapes of the South Platte and Arkansas Rivers mountain headwaters.
Details on our 2018 restoration projects: South Park Alpine:78 volunteers over 3 days obliterated 10,000 ft of illegal road in the in N. Tarryall valley. The track was seeded, raked, mulched with wood straw, and steep areas were covered with erosion matting. A volunteer crew restored 1000 ft illegal track at Beaver Creek. Additional work in 2018 will involve rebuilding the 1,900 ft. historic trail on north side of beaver ponds, with hopes of getting 500-1,000ft built this season to protect a riparian area. Rock Creek: 27 volunteers worked over two days, reseeding and brushing a stream-side trail that was re-routed through the trees to protect habitat for the endangered Greenback Cutthroat Trout. South Park: A dozen volunteers removed old barbwire fencing on National Forest land, which creates obstruction for migrating wildlife. This will improve the migration corridors for herds of elk, deer, moose, and pronghorn.
In 2016 our major restoration project was reclaiming wildlife habitat in Selkirk Gulch along North Tarryall Creek by installing 2500 feet of post and cable to keep motorized traffic out of sensitive riparian area.
Habitat restoration projects in Trout and Eagle Creeks (2009-2010) and Green Mountain (2011), Geneva Basin (2013), and Badger Flats (2014) and Farnum Peak (2015) have been completed.
Annual monitoring trips to restoration sites track progress and determine future action.A monitoring trip to Green Mountain demonstrated the effectiveness of restoration in the 5-acre wet meadow which is now knee-high in grasses and elk are using the small seasonal ponds for wallows
In 2017 we continued closing illegal motorized routes that enter the Farnum Peak Roadless Area. The Packer Gulch Project on the west side of Farnum Peak included installation of post and cable fencing to restrict travel to the legal road. Monitoring on the west side revealed presence of more deer, bear and elk now that there is less disturbance from ATVs.
Selkirk Gulch 2016: Closing 2.13 miles of illegal track protects wetlands and the tundra of Hoosier Ridge.
Farnum Peak 2015: An illegal 1.5 mile OHV track cutting through the middle of this critical wildlife corridor was closed on both east and west ends, reconnecting these wildlands for the benefit of area wildlife. Protecting critical wildlife habitat continued in 2017 by closing three illegal motorized tracks leading from Packer Gulch into the Farnum Roadless Area.
Geneva Creek 2013: Denuded dispersed campsites along Geneva Creek west of Mt. Evans Wilderness were scarified and reseeded. Felled trees and strategically placed
boulders protect the stream banks and meadows.
Green Mountain 2011: The project restored the 5-acre meadow to lush grasses and seasonal ponds, closed 3.5 miles of decommissioned roads and illegal off highway vehicle tracks, closed an abandoned mine-shaft and did a census of bats and Pawnee montane skipper butterflies. The quiet that wildlife need to thrive was re-established.
Trout and Eagle Creeks 2009-2010: The project restored the 5-acre meadow to lush grasses and seasonal ponds, closed 3.5 miles of decommissioned roads and illegal off highway vehicle tracks, closed an abandoned mine-shaft and did a census of bats and Pawnee montane skipper butterflies. The quiet that wildlife need to thrive was re-established.
We work with Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition to design and advocate for Congressional designation of new wildernesses in our focus geography. Current emphasis is on updating the Colorado Wilderness Proposal for BLM Lands in preparation for future Congressional legislation.
Colorado Wilderness Bill reintroduced with expanded wilderness areas in 2018.
Fremont County Commissioners endorsed wilderness legislation for areas in their jurisdiction.
Colorado Wilderness Bill introduced in Congress in 2011
Activists supporting wilderness legislation
-Engaging citizens in BLM's 2015-2018 Management Plan Revision. Includes hikes to BLM areas, attendance at scoping meetings, public relations and comment writing workshops.
-Reinventory of selected roadless areas and revision of Wild Connections Conservation Plan
-Wild Connections has lead the coalition that is working to gain administrative protections for
BLM Public Lands. An 8-week media campaign showcased some of these spectacular local BLM wildlands.
It encouraged people to voice their support for protecting these areas. This campaign will continue
during fall 2018, when the BLM will accept public comments on the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan.
in 2017, Wild Connections continued efforts with our conservation coalition partners to advocate for special designations for sensitive areas. We also prepared our action plans to coincide with the 2018 publication of draft management plans from the BLM.
The Wild Connections Conservation Plan, written in 2001, is a comprehensive management scenario for the Pike-San Isabel that will be updated by Wild Connections Board and volunteers in 2011.
Extensive comments on Forest Planning Rule
Volunteers and interns inventoried BLM lands in 2013 and 2014
BLM reports compiled and submitted. BLM added more than 104,500 acres to their Lands with Wilderness Characteristics inventory as a result.
A diverse mix of native species in a landscape scale wildlands network is necessary to protect both the land and those who benefit from it.
Ensuring that the Wild Connections Conservation Plan becomes an integral part of the Pike-San Isabel management of the forest is our key strategy for protecting biodiversity for the long term.
Pawnee montane skipper butterflies (Hesperia leonardus montana) are one of three threatened species in the Trout Creek restoration area. Regular census of these rare butterflies helps establish population trends.
2010 butterfly survey established presence of threatened Pawnee montane skippers.
2012 survey showed increased numbers.
Habitat improved for skippers, Preble's meadow jumping mouse and Mexican spotted owls in Trout and Eagle Creeks.
2014 survey indicated that skipper populations are stable or increasing.
Roadless areas in central Colorado are islands in the midst of a sea of private land development and heavily used agency lands. Roads and motorized trails fragment habitat and affect wildlife as more and more people travel and recreate in the Pike-San Isabel and on BLM lands.
- Wild Connections engages staff and citizens in the Pike-San Isabel forest-wide travel management planning.
- Selected BLM roadless areas are inventoried as needed
- Motorized Vehicle Use Maps that officially define the routes that are open to motorized use are reviewed annually and become the basis for future travel management planning.
-Motorized violations of roadless areas are monitored, and Wild Connections meet with the agencies to plan actions that will reduce or eliminate those violations.
- Wild Connections participates in citizen organizing on selected National Forest and BLM agency projects with regular review of agency schedules of proposed actions and response to agency if appropriate. We provide GIS analysis; volunteer teams to field check project sites, and organizing for public comments.
We expect the travel plan for the Pike-San Isabel National forest to be updated in 2019, and we are planning our strategy to update the Wild Connections conservation plan. We are updating our conservation plan, beginning in 2018, to identify areas where biodiversity can best be preserved in the face of global climate change.
We have helped create an excellent Arkansas Canyons travel plan and a South Rampart Travel plan that cover sensitive wild areas.