Two Mesa County restoration projects receive $83K

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, December 11, 2023-

Mesa County was awarded $83,550 from Great Outdoors Colorado for restoration projects.

The two restoration projects where the funds will go are at Palisade’s Riverbend Park along the Colorado River and Pinyon Mesa just south of Grand Junction.

The grants are part of GOCO’s Conservation Service Corps program. GOCO partners with Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) to employ conservation service corps crews across the state on outdoor recreation and stewardship projects. CYCA represents a statewide coalition of eight accredited corps that train youth, young adults, and veterans to complete land and water conservation work and gain professional skills.

With a $22,200 grant, the Town of Palisade and Desert Rivers Collective will partner with Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) crews to remove tamarisk and Russian olive trees and reduce wildland fire risk at Riverbend Park along the Colorado River.

Areas in the park along the river and adjacent irrigation ditch are choked with invasive species. They impede river access, impact habitat features, and crowd out native vegetation.

With a $61,350 grant, Colorado West Land Trust will partner with WCCC crews to help restore floodplains and river areas, enhance forest health, and mitigate wildfire fuels across Pinyon Mesa in Western Colorado. Corps members will perform restoration tasks supporting streams that flow to the Colorado River, including installing soft structures to promote water flow in meadows and stream corridors and removing invasive vegetation.

Wildlife habitat will be improved by chipping of intruding pinyon-juniper, strategic thinning of river and upland forests, and removal of run-down fencing. The project is a multi-year collaboration between Colorado West Land Trust, Mountain Island Ranch, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Rivers Edge West.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $45.6 million in projects in Mesa County and partnered to conserve 18,284 acres of land in the county. GOCO funding has supported Fruitlands Forever, the Colorado Riverfront Trail, the restoration of Riverbend Park in Palisade, Highline Lake State Park, and Grand Junction’s Las Colonias Park among other projects.

Montrose County was also received $33,300 grant funding from GOCO.

The money will go toward continued continue restoration efforts along the Dolores River by the WCCC.

The area has a large infestation of tamarisk. Crews will spend three weeks removing the invasive species from approximately eight acres. The area contains many cottonwood trees that provide cover for native plant species to thrive. Rivers Edge West will support WCCC with mapping, monitoring, retreatments, and revegetation to the site once this removal project concludes.

GOCO has invested more than $7.7 million in projects in Montrose County and partnered to conserve 5,367 acres of land there.