DOW Awards $200,000 In Conservation Grants

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) announced the recipients of $200,000 in grants to fund projects that will benefit the state’s threatened, endangered and declining wildlife species.

The Colorado Wildlife Conservation Grant Program (CWCG) is administered by the DOW. The competitive grant program is funded by the federal State Wildlife Grant Program, and its aim is to promote projects across the state that support wildlife conservation efforts. These federal funds come from general tax revenue and are allocated to each state based upon population and surface area.

“These projects represent how we are furthering conservation in Colorado by working with other stakeholders,” said Bruce McCloskey, director of the DOW. “Cooperation between landowners, private conservation groups, communities, and state and federal conservation agencies is the formula for getting things accomplished on the ground for wildlife. These projects and this grant program demonstrate this partnership and will help take conservation in the state to a new level.”

The following projects received funding:

* A study to determine how habitat fragmentation influences the movements, survival and causes of mortality of Ord’s kangaroo rat. Research will be conducted at two sites approximately 35 miles northeast of Fort Collins. Researcher: Beth Ross, Colorado State University $11,821

* An analysis of population structure and gene flow among Mountain Plover breeding populations using nuclear microsatellite markers. The study would help show whether Mountain Plover bonds are formed in mixed flocks on wintering grounds or on summer grounds. The results would have implications on management of the species. Researcher: Sara Oyler-McCance, University of Denver $26,000

* Preliminary work to acquire a perpetual conservation easement and habitat restoration on 99 acres of river and floodplain on the North Fork of the Gunnison River near Hotchkiss. Funding will pay for title review, survey, appraisal, baseline assessment and closing costs associated with acquiring an easement worth nearly $1,000,000. Project leader – North Fork River Improvement Association $30,000.

* A study to assess the effectiveness of DNA extraction from Gunnison Sage-Grouse feces for use in population estimation studies, with the goal of making a DNA mark-recapture study a possibility. The study builds on fecal samples collected by CDOW researchers. Researcher: Sara Oyler-McCance, University of Denver $22,500

* An assessment of the status of playas in the San Luis Valley. The project will ground-truth data on playas, and describe soils conditions, vegetation and hydroperiods. Previous studies of playas in other areas found that nearly 50 percent of listed playas either did not exist or were another type of body of water. Of those that were playas, the majority were pitted, plowed or grazed. Project leader: Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory $24,000

* Research on boreal toad populations, movements and the presence of chytrid fungus in Cucumber Gulch, near Breckenridge. Cucumber Gulch has been identified as perhaps “some of the best boreal toad habitat in the state.” Project leader: Town of Breckenridge $17, 137

* Research on massasagua snake in Baca County, including PIT-tagging snakes, monitoring of movements and identification of feeding grounds. Researcher: Dr. Steven Mackessy, University of Northern Colorado $30,000

* Research on the northern leopard frog in Grand County. The project will compile existing data on the northern leopard frog, establish a baseline database of northern leopard frog distributions and conduct a targeted inventory of the frog on Grand County, where the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) is conducting fieldwork. Project leader: CNHP $12,331

* A study of the spatial ecology (i.e. movements, home ranges, relative density and survival) of adult eastern short-horned lizards. Research will be conducted on federal and private lands in the Pawnee Grasslands. Project leader: Dr. Tom Mathies, National Wildlife Research Center $6,269

* Tamarisk removal on 250 acres of riparian area along an eight-mile stretch of private land on the Apishapa River in Pueblo and Las Animas Counties. The project involves follow-up monitoring to quantify the biological effects and species response to the tamarisk eradication. Project leaders: Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Apishapa Canyon Ranch $11,500

“We received more than $700,000 in funding requests, far more than the funding available,” said Jim Guthrie, CWCG program coordinator for the DOW. “The projects that were approved illustrate the wide range of work that is required for effective species and habitat protection. All of these efforts will help further overall species conservation in Colorado.”