Colorado Wetlands Initiative Executive Summary

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The Colorado Wetlands Initiative is an endeavor to protect wetlands and wetland-dependent wildlife through the use of voluntary, incentive-based mechanisms. It is a partnership and a cooperative venture among Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado, and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and Division of Wildlife, which are both divisions of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Furthermore, the Wetlands Initiative embraces cooperation with private landowners, municipalities, other state and federal agencies, and other non-governmental organizations in the pursuit of voluntary wetlands protection.

The wetlands resources of Colorado have been impacted incrementally over decades affecting people, wildlife, and plants. Society recognizes the benefits wetlands provide and 83 percent of Coloradans agree that wetlands should be protected. These Coloradans include many of the agricultural operators who control key wetland resources in the state. Both agriculture and wetlands are currently at risk in Colorado from a variety of factors and their futures are inextricably linked.

In 1997 the Division of Wildlife and its partners were awarded a $4.46 million Legacy Grant by Great Outdoors Colorado to fund the Wetlands Initiative. Subsequently, the Wetlands Initiative Partners matched the grant and the Wetlands Initiative became a $17.4 million effort to protect wetlands. At the outset, the Wetlands Initiative Partners established the objective to be protection of a minimum of 15,000 acres of biologically significant wetlands and associated uplands by June 2000. Other goals and objectives were also developed.

In this document the Wetlands Initiative Partners report to the people of Colorado that they have surpassed their stated objective and have protected 13,916 acres of biologically significant wetlands and 85,339 acres of associated uplands — a total of approximately 99,000 acres — between the years 1997 and 2000. This report details the accomplishment of the Wetlands Initiative — protected wetlands for wetland-dependent wildlife and the citizens of Colorado.