The Wet Meadow Restoration-Resilience Project has selected Tom Grant as their project coordinator, replacing Betsy Neely of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Local land managers, private landowners, and non-profit groups such as TNC have been working together for five years to restore wet meadows in upland habitats surrounding Gunnison. The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) has taken over the lead from TNC in organizing the large-scale, collaborative project and Tom Grant’s role is to help coordinate the implementation of projects, scientific monitoring, and development of educational outreach and volunteer programs.
The collaborative, cross-boundary project is improving habitat using small rock structures and earthen impoundments to slow down the flow of water through the system and restore the critical wet meadows that are found scattered throughout the sagebrush landscape. The project’s goals are to enhance the resilience of wet meadows and riparian areas by restoring their hydrologic and ecological function. This includes, improving rangeland health and forage for livestock, enhancing habitat for the Gunnison Sage-grouse and other wildlife species, and increasing the ecosystems’ resilience to a changing climate.
Dr. Grant currently works as a lecturer in Western State Colorado University’s Master in Environmental Management (MEM) program. His background in restoration ecology includes working on wetland restorations in the San Juan mountains, reclamation of oil/gas pads on the Western Slope, revegetation of riparian areas impacted by mine tailings, and management of invasive plant species. The Wet Meadow Restoration-Resilience Project is expanding projects on public lands and looking for more partnerships with private landowners. Additionally, the project is working with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to hire a team of local youths (ages 16-25) to build and maintain the restoration structures. Please contact Tom Grant (UGrestoration@gmail.com) at the UGRWCD with any questions about the project, volunteering, or the paid positions with the Western Colorado Conservation Corp.