Project Description: We coordinated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to establish grass banks for livestock grazing on their state wildlife areas in Gunnison, CO during times of drought.  The Gunnison Basin is widely grazed and features habitat for the federally-threatened Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus). In times of drought, reduced forage may be exasperated by high grazing pressure to cause negative effects on wildlife habitat. The grass bank in state wildlife areas will reduce overall grazing pressure across these critical wildlife habitats for big game and Gunnison Sage-grouse by redistributing grazing pressures.

Conservation plans developed for the grass banks typically include weed management, mesic restoration (rock work), monitoring, and an adaptive grazing plan. The first grazing plan was developed in 2017 for Dutch Gulch State Wildlife Area, southeast of Gunnison.  The work is expected to continue for several years across several state wildlife areas.

Project Partners: Gunnison Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Project Funding: None—significant technical assistance

Benefited Species: Gunnison Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus minimus), big game—including mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and elk (Cervus canadensis)