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But first, here’s what we’ve been up to most recently:
- Expanding our Front Range Pika Project citizen science opportunity. In 2018, we were able to expand the project to cover Rocky Mountain National Park and the White River National Forest. We were able to survey 86 sites and train more than 80 volunteers who did 1,115 hours of field work. In 2019, we had over 300 people sign up to volunteer. We are also currently developing our field season trainings in order to deliver them online to help our volunteers stay Safe at Home. To help fund this work, we are currently offering pika adoptions! Adoptees get an adorable plush pika (filled with environmentally-friendly recycled plastic) and an adoption e-certificate.
- Protecting Wolf Creek Pass. We are up against the unlimited resources of Texas billionaire Red McCombs in the battle to protect Wolf Creek Pass from the “village.” But Red McCombs is up against our team of dedicated staff and tenacious supporters who submitted hundreds of objections to the Village at Wolf Creek Road Access Project in 2018. The federal court ruled in our favor for our merits case, upheld a challenge to that ruling, and dismissed an appeal to that ruling! While we were fighting that battle in court, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture sent a letter to the Forest Service demanding road access to build their Village anyway. Our supporters submitted hundreds of objections to the project to the Forest Service, which were quickly rejected but remain part of the public record. In February 2019, the Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas signed a Final Record of Decision that could result in an easement to facilitate construction of the massive “Village.” We will continue to fight this unnecessary development.
- Raising funds to finalize a design for wildlife crossing structures along the I-70 mountain corridor. In 2018, we completed our Wild I-70 Audio Tour to help people understand the importance of wildlife crossing structures along I-70 and we’ve had over 1,800 people sign our I Support Wildlife Crossing Structures petition to date! We have also secured seed funding from Vail Resorts to begin the design and engineering process for crossing structures on east Vail Pass.
- Monitoring wildlife trying to cross I-70 using wildlife cameras. We have hundreds of thousands of images from this project that need identifying. Our monitoring project documents the animals in the Vail Pass Wildlife Byway’s proposed site so that we can help inform the bridge design. Along with our partners at Denver Zoo, we developed an interactive Zooniverse page where citizen scientists can help us identify the wildlife that are captured in the photos!
- Working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to find and map lands with wilderness characteristics. Using our Assessment of Biological Impact tool, we advocate for their protection.
- We are currently working on launching two new citizen science programs. The first is Colorado Bat Watch! Little is currently known about the population status of most species of bats in Colorado. We partnered with the United States Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, and Conejos Clean Water, with funding from the US Forest Service Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program and Patagonia, to launch the Colorado Bat Watch Program. This program will use citizen scientists to collect data that will enable these agencies to monitor bat species over time and better understand the impacts of WNS and other threats on local bat populations.
- The second is Go Big! Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey. The Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey engages citizens in recording observations of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, domestic sheep, and domestic goats in Central Colorado. The data collected by volunteers participating in the project will inform conservation strategies for Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Central Colorado.
- On May 10-16, we hosted the 4th annual Colorado Endangered Species Week! This week is dedicated to the mission of educating the public and working towards the protection of the over 300 plant and animal species that are at risk in Colorado, including our state animal, the bighorn sheep. For each day during Colorado Endangered Species Week, we be focused on one of our important species or wild places here in Colorado. Each day featured a suite of activities, including things to read, direct actions to do, and things to watch to help us learn about and advocate for our Colorado imperiled, threatened, and endangered species! If you want to watch the playback of our artist tutorials and live events with experts in the field, check out our Colorado Endangered Species YouTube playlist!
Those are the highlights of our major programs currently. If you would like to get involved in any of them, please do let us know! We definitely have volunteer opportunities. We also have opportunities to support our work by becoming a donor or joining our monthly donors in the Super Species Squad.
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