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Colorado FWCO
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Colorado Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office

PO Box 25486, DFC | Denver, CO 80225
Phone: (303) 236-4216

About Our Office

Latest Highlight | National Fish Passage Program | Invasive Species | Forest Health | Recovery & Conservation | Hunting & Fishing Opportunities | Cultural Resources | Publications | Newsletters | Staff & Contact Information | Important Links | Open / Close All

About Us

(left) photo of a group riding ATVs, (top right) photo of a stream, (bottom right) photo of a toad. Credit: USFWS

(left) photo of a group riding ATVs, (top right) photo of a stream, (bottom right) photo of a toad. Credit: USFWS.

The Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office is an essential part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program. We work cooperatively with the Department of Defense, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and various state agencies to provide management of fish and wildlife resources for the mountain-prairie region. Together with our partners, we are involved in natural resource management projects across the state of Colorado to accomplish restoration and conservation actions for Federal and State protected and trust species. Our recovery efforts include stream restoration, invasive species control, fisheries surveys, identification of cultural resources and implementing actions such as controlled burns to achieve healthy forests. Due to the diverse conservation projects of this office, we have staff located at the following locations:

  • Mountain-Prairie Regional Office, Lakewood, CO
  • Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, CO
  • U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Pueblo Chemical Army Depot, Pueblo, CO
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Latest Highlight »

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Prescribed Burn at Academy Protects Rare Plant Species

Split photo of firefighters conducting a controlled burn at the US Air Force Academy. Credit: USFWS.

Split photo of firefighters conducting a controlled burn at the US Air Force Academy. Credit: USFWS.

A controlled burn was planned at the US Air Force Academy in order to enhance the growth of a small patch of Plains Ironweed in that area. This native perennial is a state-protected plant that has only two known populations in the state of Colorado. In partnership with the Academy, the burn was successful in removing invasive Smooth Brome in order to enhance growth. To read more about the controlled burn, click here! (7MB PDF)

 


National Fish Passage Program »


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Split photo of fish passages. Credit: USFWS.

Split photo of fish passages. Credit: USFWS.

The National Fish Passage Program is a voluntary, non-regulatory effort that provides assistance to remove or bypass barriers that impede fish movement to restore fish populations. Since the program began in 1999, NFPP has made significant progress in accomplishing their goal by removing 950 barriers, reopened 15,500 miles of river and 82,000 acres of wetlands. Maintaining and restoring connectivity between different aquatic ecosystems is considered significant conservation work by the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (CO FWCO).

The CO FWCO works with partners and the National Fish Passage Program to increase river connectivity, improve water quality and sediment management. By restoring connectivity and reducing habitat fragmentation, this allows the movement and populations of fish to increase and ultimately contribute to opportunities for sport fishing. Specific projects to reestablish healthy fish populations include removal of culverts in Thompson Creek, the Fountain Creek Habitat Improvement Project and restoration of Tabequache Creek in the San Miguel drainage.

Click on the links below to learn more about the National Fish Passage Program:
FAC – National Fish Passage Program
National Fish Passage Program (11.6MB PDF)


Invasive Species »

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Split photo of workers inspecting logs for Pine Beetle. Credit: USFWS.

Split photo of workers inspecting logs for Pine Beetle. Credit: USFWS.

The Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office works on several Department of Defense military installations across the state of Colorado. Under the Sikes Act and consistent with their mission, military bases are required to implement natural resource management on installation lands. Our biologists work with military personnel and other cooperators to implement natural resource management goals including control of invasive species.

Control and management of invasive species is accomplished using modern resource management methods. Several complementary methods may be implemented in an overall strategy to protect ecosystems and aid in their recovery. Below is an example of where the conservation office is working to control invasive species on Department of Defense lands.


Ips Pine Engraver Beetle
The Ips beetle continues to be a problem for our forests due to their negative effects on our trees. As the beetles tunnel through the tree, it leaves behind a residue that infects and eventually kills the tree. These critters have been particularly challenging over the past several years due to drought conditions in which they thrive. Although this species produces multiple generations annually, various proactive measures are taking place to prevent further destruction.

  • Diane Strohm is currently preparing for approximately 200 high-risk or high-profile trees to be sprayed in order to prevent beetle attack on the USAFA.
  • Steve Wallace also played a major role in cutting and de-barking beetle infested trees.
  • CO FWCO staff administer tree thinning and brush removal in order to prevent the beetles from easily migrating from one tree to the next.
  • Steve Wallace and a local contractor conducts field surveys to seek out infested trees by the Ips beetle, twig beetle, dwarf mistletoe, and other forest health pests.


Forest Health »

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Photo of a mountain-side (left) and photo of USFWS workers (right). Credit: USFWS.

Photo of a mountain-side (left) and photo of USFWS workers (right). Credit: USFWS.

Our Forest Health Program is an important conservation effort on the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs designed to determine the status, changes, and trends in indicators of forest condition on an annual basis. The program uses data from ground plots and surveys, aerial surveys, and other biotic and abiotic data sources and develops analytical approaches to address forest health issues that affect the sustainability of forest ecosystems. The forested lands on the Academy are managed through a partnership involving state, federal, and academic organizations.

Major activities:

  • Detection Monitoring –ground surveys to evaluate status and change in condition of forest ecosystems;
  • Evaluation Monitoring - projects to determine extent, severity, and causes of undesirable changes in forest health identified through monitoring;
  • Research on Monitoring Techniques – to develop or improve indicators, monitoring systems, and analytical techniques, such as, urban and riparian forest health monitoring, early detection of invasive species, multivariate analyses of forest health indicators, and spatial scan statistics.
  • Analysis and Reporting - synthesis of information from various data sources within and external to the Forest Service to produce issue-driven reports on status and change in forest health at National, Regional, and State levels.

Photo of a bulldozer. Credit: USFWS.

Photo of a bulldozer. Credit: USFWS.

Currently the CO FWCO office is working with local resources to conduct field surveys which will identify trees infested with forest health pests like the Ips pine engraver, twig beetles, and dwarf mistletoe. FWCO staff have been directly involved with tree thinning and brush removal on ten acres of forest in Pine Valley due to increased tree mortality. This forest has been experiencing significant health problems in the past several years due to heavy tree stocking, drought stress, and bark beetle activity. Brood trees are promptly removed and treated either by being chipped, de-barked, or hauled to a safe place. Preventative measures like these are required to prevent increasing tree mortalities as these beetles proliferate once they find their ideal environments.


Recovery & Conservation »

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Photo of USFWS worker and young volunteer (left) and a baby waterfowl (right). Credit: USFWS.

Photo of USFWS worker and young volunteer (left) and a baby waterfowl (right). Credit: USFWS.

Restoring and maintaining wildlife diversity for threatened and endangered species are a primary focus for the Colorado FWCO. Direct engagement in activities such as prescribed burns, dam removals, and implementing fish surveys all contribute to the recovery and conservation efforts within the Fish and Wildlife Service. Currently, the majority of the work has been geared towards preventing habitat loss for cutthroat trout and the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, both of which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation activities for these species consist of:

  • Completing data/information requests on fishing and damage of greenback cutthroat trout related to fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Lily Lake.
  • Installed an oxygen system in Lily Lake to maintain the greenback cutthroat trout population.
  • Prevent erosion and sedimentation of Preble’s Jumping Mouse habitat which was a direct result of construction activities around bridge piers.
  • Remove woody debris caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire from Preble’s Jumping Mouse habitat.


Hunting & Fishing Opportunities »

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Photo of group of hunters (left) and a USFWS employee (right). Credit: USFWS.

Photo of group of hunters (left) and a USFWS employee (right). Credit: USFWS.

The Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office works with the U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to conduct deer, elk and turkey hunts on Academy lands. In addition, local lakes are stocked with catchable size Snake River cutthroat trout.


Game and Non-Game Wildlife Management
Opportunities for viewing a variety of wildlife in their natural habitat is an important part of what makes the open space on the Air Force Academy special. Over 70 mammals and 200 bird species are found on the installation, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, American elk, Merriam’s turkey, black bear, coyote, mountain lion, bats, fox, songbirds, raptors and waterfowl. Guided deer and elk hunting - which is open to the general public - is used to maintain the big game populations within the carrying capacity of the habitat, and to reduce vehicle-animal accidents. Deer hunters must apply for a state license through the Colorado Big Game limited license system. Cow elk hunters must apply in May at the Outdoor Recreation Center (333-4356) (Building 5136) for a random drawing that is conducted by the Natural Resources office.


Recreational Fisheries Management
Five lakes on the Academy and three lakes at Farish Recreation Area are stocked annually with 9-11 inch rainbow trout. Grass carp are also used in the lakes to help control aquatic weeds. All anglers over 16 years old must have a valid State fishing license and an Academy permit to fish at the lakes. Receipts from the sale of the base fishing permits are used to cover the cost of stocking the hatchery-reared fish. The lakes are not open to the public; only active duty military, military retirees, and DoD government civilians are eligible to fish on the base. Free, lifetime fishing permits are provided to persons with a 60% or higher Veterans Affairs (VA) disability. Annual ($21) and one-day ($7.25) fishing permits may be purchased at the Outdoor Recreation Center (333-4356) (Building 5136) and Farish Recreation Area (719-687-9098) during normal business hours.


Useful Links & Resources:

To Report Bear Activity to Natural Resources, please send an e-mail to Bear.Watch@usafa.af.mil


Cultural Resources »

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CO FWCO staff member, Max Canestorp, implements the Cultural Resource Management Program on Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD). In this capacity, he reviews proposed military projects to ensure compliance with federal regulations, and provides recommendations regarding the locations, timing, and/or methodologies of these projects to avoid adverse effects to cultural resources. He coordinates cultural resource surveys and monitoring prior to and during the undertaking of projects, respectively. Finally, he coordinates PCD policies and activities with the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Native American Tribes claiming cultural affiliation to the area as necessary.


Publications »

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Published works by staff in the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office are listed below to show the continuous effort to improve conservation science.

Metcalf, J.L, Love Stowell, S., Kennedy, C.M., Rogers, K.B., McDonald, D., Epp, J., Keepers. K., Cooper, Cooper., Austin, J.J., Martin, A.P. (2012). Historical Stocking Data and 19th Century DNA Reveal Human-Induced Changes to Native Diversity and Distribution of Cutthroat Trout. Molecular Ecology, 21(12), 5194-5207. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.12028/abstract


Newsletters »

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There are numerous ongoing activities in the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office so this section is the best source to read updated information on current projects. The newsletters below document progress on year-long projects to one week assignments. Most recently, the FWCO office completed a prescribed burn at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Click on the May newsletter to read more about this effort to conserve a native species!


Staff & Contact Information »

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Pam Sponholtz. Credit: USFWS.

Pam Sponholtz. Credit: USFWS.

Pam Sponholtz
Project Leader
303-236-4216
Pamela_sponholtz@fws.gov

Pam comes to the Service after six years of experience under the Environmental Protection Agency sampling zooplankton on the Great Lakes. After an awe-inspiring trip to the Grand Canyon in 1995, Pam moved to Arizona and obtained her master’s degree in Biology from Northern Arizona University where she investigated native and non-native fish relationships in conjunction with habitat alteration in the Upper Verde River. After working for Arizona Game and Fish Department as the State Aquatic Habitat Specialist, she started working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on recovery and monitoring of native fishes in the northern part of Arizona, including the Colorado River and Grand Canyon National Park. Her current position with the Service includes extensive recovery and conservation efforts for listed species on Department of Defense lands and in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Max Canestorp. Credit: USFWS.

Max Canestorp. Credit: USFWS.

Max Canestorp
Natural and Cultural Resource Manager
719-549-4228
Kevin.m.canestorp@us.army.mil

Max has been with the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office since 1988, having worked on six Army and Air Force installations in two regions in that time. Duties with his current position have included the development and implementation of management plans; conducting field projects such as wildlife surveys and invasive species control; resolving wildlife conflict issues; assessing potential impacts to natural and cultural resources from military operations; and coordinating with other agencies and tribes to further the mission of the Service.


Tim Grosch. Credit: USFWS.

Tim Grosch. Credit: USFWS.

Tim Grosch
Natural Resources Manager
307-773-5098
Timothy_Grosch@fws.gov

Tim came to the CO FWCO office from working on a proposed wind project near Saratoga, WY where he was in charge of all Greater Sage-Grouse activities ranging from capture/release, to brood and nest monitoring, to public relations. Prior to this, he was the Hunt Management Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in which he was responsible for the Hunter Management and Access Program in Hunt Areas 5 and 6 of the Laramie Mountains. He also worked for the Arizona Game and Fish Department as a Native Fish and Invertebrate Biologist where he had the opportunity to work with various wildlife species of all sizes. He credits the USDA Wildlife Services Program for starting his federal career as an Urban Specialist for the state of Arizona aiding in livestock protection and human health and safety concerns. With an extensive background in wildlife management, he plans to implement natural resources programs focused on nuisance wildlife prevention and re-establish the fishing programs at Warren Air Force Base where he is currently located.


Chris Kennedy. Credit: USFWS.

Chris Kennedy. Credit: USFWS.

Chris Kennedy
Fish Biologist
970-586-9279
Chris_kennedy@fws.gov

Chris has been in his current position for over 15 years and primarily works within Rocky Mountain National Park conducting fish surveys. Chris has also done work at the U. S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, Rocky Flats and Peterson Air Force Base. In addition he is involved in range-wide management for the federally threatened greenback cutthroat trout and the Colorado River cutthroat trout. An avid interest of Chris’ is the history of fish in Colorado which he has researched for about 10 years.


Brian Mihlbachler. Credit: USFWS.

Brian Mihlbachler. Credit: USFWS.

Brian Mihlbachler
Natural Resources Manager
719-333-3308
Brian.mihlbachler@USAFA.af.mil

Brian is located at the U.S. Air Force Academy where his responsibilities include fisheries, wildlife, and rangeland management; outdoor recreation; watershed management; erosion control and vegetation; and threatened and endangered species. With an educational background is in biology and rangeland science, he has gained 22 years of experience in natural resource management and conservation from assignments with various partners such as the Army, Air Force, Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Krystal Phillips. Credit: USFWS.

Krystal Phillips. Credit: USFWS.

Krystal Phillips
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
720-847-6158
Krystal.phillips.1@us.af.mil

Krystal joined the Service in 2006 upon graduating from University of Colorado – Colorado Springs. With five years of active duty military service under her belt, she began her USFWS career on Fort Carson Military Reservation with the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO), as a Biological Science Technician performing agronomy, avian, fish, and wildlife surveys. At present, Krystal is the Natural and Cultural Resource Manager responsible for the program development, management, and execution of natural and cultural resources projects on Buckley Air Force Base (BAFB) in support of maintaining military readiness. Her most recent accomplishment was the tripartite - USFWS, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and U.S. Air Force, finalization of the BAFB Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan under the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670 et seq., as amended). Krystal received her graduate degree in 2012, from University of Denver, in Environmental Policy and Management with emphasis in natural resources.


Diane Strohm. Credit: USFWS.

Diane Strohm. Credit: USFWS.

Diane Strohm
Natural Resources Manager
719-333-3308
Diane.strohm@USAFA.af.mil

Diane has managed the Academy forestry and wildland fuels programs since 2004. Prior to this, she worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 25 years in Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Colorado. While attending Colorado State University, she also worked for their Forest Service program. She completed her forestry graduate study at West Virginia and Syracuse Universities, with her thesis on silvicultural strategies to enhance wintering wildlife habitat. She lives just north of the Academy with her husband Mark and their collie McKenzie.

 


Steve Wallace. Credit: USFWS.

Steve Wallace. Credit: USFWS.

Steve Wallace
Forestry Technician
719-333-3308
Donald.wallace@USAFA.af.mil

Steve started in the Federal government as a Young Adult Conservation Corps crew leader for the U.S. Forest Service. He subsequently served as a member of the Pike Interagency Hotshot crew on the Pike National Forest for six seasons followed by six years of operating a fire engine for the Angeles National Forest. In 1993, he joined the Service at his current position located at the Air Force Academy where his main focus is forestry and fuels management.


Steve Wallace. Credit: USFWS.

Laura Mendenhall. Credit: USFWS.

Laura Mendenhall
Fish and Wildlife Biologist – McConnell AFB, KS
316-759-5765
Laura_mendenhall@fws.gov

Laura Mendenhall began her fish and wildlife career managing endangered California Condors on the West Coast. There she developed an interest in wildlife stakeholder facilitation, structured decision-making, and population viability modeling. Her passion for Kansas conservation soon drew Laura back to her home state where she now serves as the USFWS liaison for McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.


Clark Jones. Credit: USFWS.

Clark Jones. Credit: USFWS.

Clark Jones
Fish and Wildlife Biologist– Pueblo Chemical Depot
(719)549-4228
clark_jones@fws.gov

Clark serves dual roles as the Natural and Cultural Resource Manager for Pueblo Chemical Depot. His primary responsibilities include wildlife and habitat management, as well management of historical and archaeological resources. Clark received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia where he studied avian communities in longleaf pine forests. He comes to the USFWS after working as an adjunct instructor in ornithology at the University of Georgia and two years working as a contractor for the National Park Service.


Melissa Wittingslow. Credit: USFWS.

Melissa Wittingslow. Credit: USFWS.

Melissa Whittingslow
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
melissa_whittingslow@fws.gov

Melissa Whittingslow graduated with her undergraduate in Environmental Science from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. After graduating Melissa worked at the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, WA as a seasonal Forestry Technician. In 2012 she accepting a term position as a Water Quality Biology Technician at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, FL. Melissa is currently working as the Fish and Wildlife Biologist at the U.S. Air Force Academy.


Dustin Casady. Credit: USFWS.

Dustin Casady. Credit: USFWS.

Dustin Casady
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
dustin_casady@fws.gov

Dustin worked for several state agencies and various non-profit organizations before becoming a Pathways student for the USFWS. After finishing the Pathways Program and earning a master’s degree in wildlife ecology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, he joined the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and is currently a biological science technician. In his current position his main duties are invasive species management, habitat restoration, biological surveys and reports, bird air strike hazard reduction and pest management on Buckley Air Force Base. He also routinely assists co-workers with projects on other installations.  


Important Links »

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: July 02, 2015
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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