National Audubon Society (Prowers County) nets $317K RESTORE Colorado grant for Habitat Improvement

Release of two lesser prairie chickens on the Comanche National Grasslands during a recent relocation from Kansas. (CPW Photograph)



National Audubon Society (Prowers County) received a $317,686 grant to restore and improve the management of private ranches in critical grassland habitat and identify and develop habitat management plans. Management plans will focus on improving habitat for focal bird species such as lesser prairie chicken, eastern black rail, lark bunting, and thick-billed longspur. These efforts will lead to hydrology restoration on more than 6,000 acres of mesic habitat and the strategic management of 30,000 acres of grassland habitat.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $3.1 million in awards from its Restoration and Stewardship of Outdoor Resources and Environment (RESTORE) Colorado program for projects on public and private conservation lands that have the greatest benefit for wildlife habitat and local communities.

The 10 recent grants will leverage $8.7 million in matching contributions for a total on-the-ground impact of $11.8 million. These grants build on more than $2.7 million awarded through the program in March 2020 to 11 projects that leveraged $3.4 million in match and generated $6.1 million for on-the-ground impact.

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to partner with so many esteemed organizations to support large-scale restoration projects leading to meaningful outcomes across the great state of Colorado,” said GOCO Executive Director Chris Castilian. “And thank you to the grantees working so diligently on the ground to accomplish them. We’re pleased that this program provides a single-source funding opportunity, streamlining application processes and creating efficiencies in getting critical restoration work completed.”

Stretching from the rolling shortgrass prairies of the Great Plains to the crest of the Rocky Mountains and into the canyons of the desert Southwest, Colorado hosts some of the most impressive landscapes and wildlife habitat in the country. At the same time, a rapidly growing human population and increasing demands on public and private lands have strained wildlife and their habitats in the region.

“The RESTORE partnership and the work of grantees to provide larger scale restoration outcomes is a step in the right direction for this state,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Colorado’s renowned wildlife rely upon adequate habitat, movement corridors, and healthy rivers and streams to continue to thrive, all of which this unique partnership seeks to address. I applaud the efforts of RESTORE Colorado to take restoration and stewardship to the next level in Colorado.”

The 21 projects on the 2020 and 2021 award slates fund large-scale, cross-jurisdictional habitat restoration, expansion and improvement projects across five priority landscapes that will:

Restore 1,750 acres of floodplain habitat and 65 miles of instream and riparian habitat

Restore 6,600 acres and improve management on 184,000 acres of public and private grassland

Remove 2,600 acres of invasive trees

Remove or improve 76 miles of fencing to wildlife-friendly specifications

Restore 1,270 acres of forestland habitat

RESTORE Colorado is a public-private partnership that combines and leverages state, federal and corporate funding. Program partners are NFWF, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Occidental, Corteva Agriscience, the Gates Family Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The program launched in 2020 with the purpose of awarding grants to restore or enhance riparian, grassland, sagebrush, forests and big game wintering range habitat in the region.

“Through the RESTORE Colorado program, we are improving and expanding wildlife habitat throughout the state,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This program, in partnership with public agencies and private landowners, will help create a better future for both Colorado’s native species and its citizens.”

Examples of projects funded to date include:

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and partners from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Gates Family Foundation, Occidental, Corteva Agriscience, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management awarded $3.1 million in grants to 10 habitat restoration and stewardship projects across the state.

Victoria Nava-Watson <>

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