Cooperatove Conservation Project

Uncompahgre Plateau Project

Public Lands Partnership is Looking “UP”

Location: South-Central/South-West Region: Colorado

Project Summary: “UP” is a collaborative agency/community-based effort to restore the wildlife, native plants and natural ecological functions of the Uncompahgre Plateau.
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A group on a field trip to the Burn Canyon fire discusses a burned area recovery plan.
Resource Challenge

Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau (UP) covers about 2,300 miles on the western slope of the Rockies. Its high-domed upland rises 10,000 feet from the Colorado River and southward to the San Juan Mountains.

More than a decade ago, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the USDA Forest Service (USFS), and the USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM) became concerned about the Plateau’s environmental health, especially about the decline in mule deer. Excessive soil erosion, an invasion of non-native plants and pinyon-juniper, low vegetation diversity, fewer neo-tropical birds, and riparian areas and aquatic habitats in poor condition were just some of the worries. The Plateau’s condition was also beginning to affect grazing, wood cutting, hunting, and other forms of recreation—and, therefore, the region’s economic vitality.

To address the ecological crisis, several organizations and interested citizens established the Public Lands Partnership in 2001. The group’s Executive Committee oversees the Partnership, while the Technical Committee is the working group and backbone of the organization. The Collaborative Council, which is open to all, is made up of members of Partnership organizations, interest groups, and the public. The Partnership calls on the Collaborative Council whenever they need public input.

Examples of Key Partners

BLM, USFS, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Public Lands Partnership (citizens and local governments of four counties: Delta, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel), Colorado State University, Western Area Power Administration, and Tri-State Generation.

Results and Accomplishments

The following restoration projects are underway to meet the ecological needs of the Uncompahgre Plateau:

  • Fuel reduction and invasive species removal, especially on utility rights-of-way. Corridors are particularly susceptible to lightening-caused fires because of highly flammable plants, many of which are non-native.
  • Native species reseeding: removing invasive species and re-establishing natives to restore the plateau’s ecological health, reduce wildfire danger, and enhance productivity. Partners are currently targeting utility corridors and adjacent lands.
  • Studies by Uncompahgre Plateau Project partners to support fuels reduction, invasive species control, and native plant reseeding; examples include:
    1. A comprehensive Geographic Information System for the plateau.
    2. Landscape health assessment.
    3. Revisions to the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest plans.
    4. Fire history studies.
    5. Native plant seed production and seeding rehabilitation research and development.
    6. Mule deer studies.
    7. Gunnison sage grouse study.
    8. Fuel reduction program as part of National Fire Plan.

Multi-interest partnership includes an open-membership Collaborative Council to provide public input.

Project Contact
Mary Chapman
Public Lands Partnership



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