A piece of property identified in Colorado Parks and Wildlife's "Gunnison Sage-grouse Rangewide Plan" has been permanently conserved thanks to generous landowners Richard and Monica Marsh. Protected with a conservation easement, the Marsh property is the second project conserved in partnership with Montezuma Land Conservancy in the last month that contains critical Gunnison Sage-grouse habitat and was made possible by funds from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the local Montelores Habitat Protection Program. As with all conservation easements that Montezuma Land Conservancy holds, the Marsh property remains in private ownership but with restrictions on subdivision and development placed on the land.
The Marsh property is another piece of the puzzle that is helping ensure that a viable population of Gunnison Sage-grouse hangs on in the area as part of a region-wide effort to keep the elusive bird from being listed on the Endangered Species Act. Together these properties represent nearly 2,000 acres of Gunnison Sage-grouse habitat under protection.
Juniper Katz, Executive Director of Montezuma Land Conservancy states, "The goal of this project, and others like it, is to keep ongoing habitat conservation efforts voluntary and at a local level; with the Marsh easement we are really making progress on providing this sub-population of the bird the best chance possible to stabilize and hopefully thrive."
The 733-acre Marsh property abuts Bureau of Land Management land and protects one of the last remaining active leks north of Dove Creek.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that the Gunnison Sage-grouse warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. However, proactive and willing local landowners such as the Marshes have begun to partner with the Conservancy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to protect the remaining habitat on private lands to safeguard the species at the state and local level and possibly prevent the bird from being listed under the Act.
For more information about the conservation program, call Montezuma Land Conservancy at 565-1664.