Introduction and General Description
The Front Range of Colorado is a
transition zone between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Vegetation ranges from
spruce/fir forest to mixed and shortgrass prairie, with occasional remnants of tall grass
prairie. The streams forming the South Platte River system drain the northern portion of
the Front Range. This Focus Area runs from approximately Castle Rock, Colorado, to the
Wyoming state line, generally bounded by Interstate 25 on the east and the 8,500-foot
elevation contour on the west.
habitat associated with Front Range rivers and streams is the center of Partners for Fish
and Wildlife efforts in this Focus Area. The threatened Prebles meadow jumping mouse
requires healthy riparian corridors along Front Range streams. Willow overstory with a
robust grass/forb understory are believed to be key habitat components. Grass-dominated
foraging areas, in close association with riparian habitat and suitable hibernaculum
sites, are also required for this species life history needs.
Prebles meadow jumping mouse. Photo courtesy of El Paso
Threats and Conservation Strategies
The primary threat to riparian habitat
along the Front Range is massive and rapid suburban and commercial development. The
Prebles meadow jumping mouse is located in some the fastest growing counties in the
United States. New homes and associated commercial and infrastructure development are
converting vast areas of agricultural lands and open space. Agricultural uses of riparian
areas can also have a negative impact through tillage or heavy grazing. Channelization and
flood control related to development are also major concerns.
Partnership with the Natural Resources
Conservation Services Wetland Reserve Program is the centerpiece of our Front Range
efforts. Through this partnership, Partners for Fish and Wildlife helps restore riparian
habitat that will be protected through a 30-year or permanent easement held by the Natural
Resources Conservation Service.
Fencing, revegetation, erosion control,
and grazing plans are onsite techniques used to restore riparian habitat. Local soil
conservation districts are becoming involved in locating potential landowner cooperators.
The total project costs, including easements and restoration, average $4,300/acre.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Program in the Front Range Focus Area has developed funding and planning relationships
with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado, Natural Resources
Conservation Service, Longmont and Kiowa Soil Conservation Districts, City of Kiowa, the
Nature Conservancy and, of course, willing conservation-minded landowners.
Since 1999, this Partners for Fish and
Wildlife effort and that of our partners have resulted in:
- 283 acres of wetlands restored
- 1,633 acres of upland habitat restored
- 9 miles of riparian habitat restored
Heavily impacted riparian zone due to
Cattle using newly installed watering access that limits use of the
stream by livestock.
Continued and increased funding of the
Wetlands Reserve Program will be critical to the future success of this effort. Estimated
future potential is 2,500 acres if WRP remains a viable program. As the development
pressure along the Front Range is so high, only land under easement or other long-term
protection mechanisms warrants an investment in time and money. There is potential to
restore an additional 2,500 acres of riparian habitat in this Focus Area.
For more information, contact:
Colorado State Coordinator
Partners for Fish and Wildlife
44 Union Blvd., Suite 120
Lakewood, CO 80228
(303) 969-7322 X 272