Location: The Gunnison Basin watershed is an intermontane basin in west-central Colorado. The IBA site consists of the sagebrush and riparian vegetation types on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands below 9,200 feet in the Basin.

Vegetative/natural features: The sites uplands are moderately to steeply rolling, dissected by permanent and intermittent stream drainages. Shallow, eroded gulches are common on upland slopes, while steep-sloped mesas with broad, flat tops occur in several areas. Big sagebrush dominates the upland vegetation.

Ownership: Federal (Bureau of Land Management,
U.S. Forest Service)

Ornithological Summary

The site provides breeding, nesting, brood, and winter habitat for approximately 2,500 Gunnison Sage-Grouse, out of a total worldwide population of 4,000. It is the site of the only known secure population of the species. The American Ornithological Union recognized the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as a new species in their 2000 checklist.

Research and educational activities: The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) monitors population numbers through lek counts each spring, and has a data base going back to 1953. Recently CDOW has intensified efforts at locating new breeding grounds. Both the BLM and the CDOW have played a major role in mapping all sage grouse habitat in the basin using GIS maps. The BLM has also worked with the U.S. Forest Service to characterize and map habitat types of sage grouse habitat on public lands within the basin. The National Park Service initiated a study last year looking at habitat use and gene flow of sage grouse on the western edge of the basin.

The USGS and Denver University continue to work on the conservation genetics of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as well as the Northern Sage-Grouse. A researcher at Western State College frequently involves undergraduates in Gunnison Sage-Grouse research through involvement with many of the projects mentioned above, as well as in projects about mating behavior of males and females and food preferences.

The above research is informally coordinated by a team of researchers working on a sub-committee of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Working Group.

Conservation Issues

Serious threats: habitat fragmentation; habitat degradation; disturbance to birds (by hunting, predators, bird watchers, OHVs).

Efforts to address threats: The Gunnison Sage-Grouse Working Group, a cooperative effort of local citizens, federal, state and county government representatives, has developed a Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan. The overall goal of the plan is "to manage the Gunnison Basin watershed in a manner that restores Gunnison sage grouse distribution and numbers as determined by the carrying capacity of the habitat." The plan addresses such threats as decline in habitat quality, habitat loss/fragmentation, and physical disturbance to bird populations. Actions suggested by the Plan include: lek enhancement, riparian area restoration, nest habitat treatments, improved livestock management, developing Best Management Practices, fund raising, education and information, and research.

The Bureau of Land Management monitors ecosystem health of rangelands in the basin, and has incorporated the objectives from the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan into their monitoring guidelines. They are also actively rehabilitating areas and experimenting with treatments to enhance nesting, lek, and brood rearing sites.

Ownership

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) monitors population numbers through lek counts each spring, and has a data base going back to 1953. Recently CDOW has intensified efforts at locating new breeding grounds. Both the BLM and the CDOW have played a major role in mapping all sage grouse habitat in the basin using GIS maps. The BLM has also worked with the U.S. Forest Service to characterize and map habitat types of sage grouse habitat on public lands within the basin. The National Park Service initiated a study last year looking at habitat use and gene flow of sage grouse on the western edge of the basin.
The USGS and Denver University continue to work on the conservation genetics of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as well as the Northern Sage-Grouse. A researcher at Western State College frequently involves undergraduates in Gunnison Sage-Grouse research through involvement with many of the projects mentioned above, as well as in projects about mating behavior of males and females and food preferences.
The above research is informally coordinated by a team of researchers working on a sub-committee of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse Working Group.

Habitat

The sites uplands are moderately to steeply rolling, dissected by permanent and intermittent stream drainages. Shallow, eroded gulches are common on upland slopes, while steep-sloped mesas with broad, flat tops occur in several areas. Big sagebrush dominates the upland vegetation.

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