CRA’s Excellence in Riparian Area Management Awards

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At its Annual Conference in Brush, Colorado October 6-8, the Colorado Riparian Association presented its 1999 Excellence in Riparian Area Management Award to five deserving recipients who demonstrated imagination and initiative in managing riparian areas and wetlands during 1999:

“River Keeper” Bill Chase, for promoting riparian values in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Bill’s achievements as River Keeper are described on page 1 of this newsletter.

Larry Budde of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in Ft. Morgan, for work on the Brush and Tamarack riparian wetlands. Larry has worked for 25 years in the Colorado DOW’s Brush office, much of that time as the Area Wildlife Manager. In his capacity as DOW’s manager for this region, Larry has worked tirelessly to expand and protect wildlife habitat. He and his staff work especially hard to improve the wildlife benefits associated with state wildlife areas in his region. His active participation in the Tamarack Plan involving the Tamarack Wildlife Area is a good recent example of his efforts to improve state wildlife areas while accommodating needs of the water community.

As a long-time resident of this area, Larry has developed excellent relationships with private landowners. He has used his understanding of local community needs and interests to build an atmosphere of trust and respect, and he has passed along this understanding to his staff. Based on this trust, Larry has been highly successful in acquiring properties and interests in properties with special wildlife habitat values along the South Platte River.

Perry Handyside, ranch manager of Blue River Ranch, for restoration and creation of wetlands along several miles of the Blue River near Kremmling, Colorado. His exemplary stewardship of the Blue Valley Ranch has targeted restoration, management, and enhancement of 3 miles of the Blue River, 5 miles of Cow Creek, creation of 3 miles of new creek channels through the Blue River flood plain, 5 lacustrine riparian sites, and many acres of additional wetlands within the Blue River flood plain. The Blue Valley Ranch has illustrated its commitment to stewardship of the Blue River corridor by dedicating ranch water rights to piscatorial use and assuring that the water needed for protecting resident fisheries is legally available even during periods when senior water rights potentially threaten instream water availability. His efforts in creating and dedicating 1.3 miles of creek channel for the establishment of type A Colorado Cutthroat Trout for use by the Colorado Division of Wildlife is testimony to his commitment to enhancement and proper utilization of riparian corridors. The Blue Valley Ranch has created valuable nesting, brood production, and migratory resting areas for waterfowl of the Blue River Valley through construction of more than 7 acres of waterfowl ponds in the flood plain. The ability of the ranch to restrict use has resulted in occupation of the ranch by important wildlife species dependent on the riparian corridor, such as bald eagles and river otter. Such concern for these important wildlife species assures they will always have a home in the Blue River Valley.

The Blue Valley Ranch extends the incentive for management of private lands for riparian and wildlife values through establishment of the Blue Valley Ranch Award. This award is sponsored by the ranch, appropriated through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and awarded each year by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. This award is presented to the individual Colorado ranch manager who illustrates a concern for wildlife habitat quality through management and efforts on behalf of wildlife.

Private landowners Tracy and Lana Leonard, for riparian stewardship of the Saint Vrain River in Boulder County, Colorado. As private landowners along the Saint Vrain, they have demonstrated commendable stewardship of riparian and wetland resources on their 35 acre farm. Over the past 20 years, they have protected the riparian corridor from degradation by preventing channel dredging, overgrazing, channelization and other such activities. As a result, St Vrain Creek through their property is in excellent condition and provides homes for a variety of fish and wildlife species, including threatened species such as the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

Tracy and Lana have acted as good stewards of the St Vrain for many years. The measures they have taken recently to protect the Saint Vrain are especially noteworthy. This year, they entered into a conservation easement with Boulder County Open Space for the protection of 21.5 acres of the St. Vrain Creek Corridor into perpetuity. During recent gravel mining operations, the St. Vrain was protected by conducting those operations outside of the riparian corridor and using a number of techniques to protect riparian values and wildlife habitat. For example, mining was allowed only during the mouse hibernation period. Existing mature cottonwood trees were protected through watering during the mining operation to prevent the loss of ground water. As part of the design for the new pond created during the gravel mining operations, they have created 3.1 acres of new wetlands strategically placed between the pond and the riparian corridor. This wetland, which is already providing habitat for waterfowl, will be planted with a number of riparian species including cottonwood, willow, plum and chokecherry. In addition, they are managing livestock grazing with fencing to protect the wetlands and riparian zone.

Steve Treadway of Brush, Colorado, for leadership in protecting and restoring riparian areas in the Lower South Platte Basin. Steve was also cited for reaching out, accepting, and working with other people. Steve long has been a leader in the water and agricultural communities in the Lower South Platte Basin. A recent important example of his leadership is his active participation in the South Platte Lower River Group, a coalition of water groups in this part of the basin working to fulfill Colorado’s responsibilities in the Three State Cooperative Agreement addressing endangered species problems in the Central Platte River of Nebraska. Steve serves as president of SPLURG and was instrumental in building this partnership that, among other things, has cooperated to establish and implement the “Tamarack Plan.”

We note with special appreciation Steve’s role in encouraging the agricultural community in the Lower South Platte Basin of Colorado to work cooperatively with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve agricultural lands with important riparian and wetland values. Working with Partners for Wildlife, Steve has placed a piece of his property along the South Platte River in the wetlands reserve program. He has encouraged others to do the same — helping to develop trust between conservation agencies and interests and private land owners.