CMU report to guide river restoration plans

A new report published by Colorado Mesa University aims to help in planning and prioritizing river restoration projects along 146 miles of the Colorado River from the Colorado-Utah border to the upper reaches of Lake Powell.

“Conservation Planning for the Colorado River in Utah” is the third in a series of scientific and technical reports issued through CMU’s Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center.

Gigi Richard, a geology professor and faculty director for the center, said the report is available to anyone who’s interested, at http://www.coloradomesa.edu/water-center/scientific-technical-reports.html.

The center has played an editorial role in the report, including by coordinating between authors and peer reviewers and graphic designers. The U.S. Geological Survey managed the peer review process for the report and also funded it with the help of numerous other entities.

The river restoration report was written by Christine Rasmussen of EcoMainstream Contracting in Durango and Patrick Shafroth of the USGS.

It’s expected that federal and state agencies, conservation groups and others will be able to use the assessment and datasets to identify and prioritize projects to improve wildlife habitat and make the river’s ecosystems more resilient. Already, such entities have been involved in an effort called the Colorado River Conservation Planning Project.

“While most of these partners have been implementing restoration projects for years, the complexity, size and increasing urgency of restoration has called for greater coordination and larger scale strategic planning,” the report says.

The datasets include maps of existing habitats, areas inundated during high and low flows, and locations of campgrounds, roads, invasive vegetation treatment areas and other features.

The report says that “detailed resource maps can be used in project planning to help maximize the benefits of restoration dollars and minimize overlap of restoration efforts.” The report can identify where conservation efforts could address multiple habitat needs and prioritize projects with the potential to recover without intervention.


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