Wild Connections works to identify protect and restore lands of central Colorado to ensure the survival of native species and ecological richness.
Our vision for the future of the mountain headwaters of the South Platte and Arkansas Rivers is found in the Wild Connections Conservation Plan (WCCP). This visionary plan was created by citizens using information from roadless area inventories, biological data and input from local workshops. It is a regional ecosystem protection strategy that forges a link in the Spine of the Continent Wildway, part of the unbroken chain of North American wildlands.
Strategies of the WCCP are turned into reality through these programs:
North American Wildways. The Wildlands Network
Wildlands Conservation The Pike-San Isabel National Forest and the BLM Royal Gorge are stewards of nearly 2.8 million acres in the upper reaches of the Arkansas and South Platte River basins. Wild Connections facilitates citizen input into agency planning and assists stakeholders to advocate for strong protection for the natural qualities, wildlife habitat, and sustainable human use of these public lands
BLM and USFS Land Management Planning Stewardship of federal lands is guided by agency management plans. Draft plans are open to public comment and subject to Environmental Impact Statements. The BLM Royal Gorge Field Office recently announded its Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision, begining a 3-5 year planning process that will dictate how their lands are managed for the next 20+ years. In preparation, Wild Connections completed an inventory of BLM roadless lands that identified Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) on about 246,000 acres of BLM lands. The Pike-San Isabel National Forest will also begin it's management plan revision in a few years. Wild Connections will be involved in these planning efforts and organize citizens to participate. Wilderness Advocacy Wild Connections organizes research and advocacy for permanent protection of wild areas through proposals for Congressionally designated Wilderness and National Conservation Areas, Parks and Monuments. We work with the Colorado Wilderness Network, The Wilderness Society and Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition, as well as local conservation organizations, to build effective campaigns. Regular field trips to backcountry areas help foster citizen support for protection.
Habitat Restoration Reconnecting large wild areas and restoring damaged lands involves volunteers in hands-on-stewardship workdays. Working with the Forest Service and partner groups, projects in Trout Creek, Green Mountain, Geneva Basin and Badger Flats have been completed. Farnum Peak will begin in 2015.
Roadless Area Defense Roadless areas in central Colorado are wild islands in the midst of a sea of private land development and heavily used agency lands. The larger ones are the building blocks of the wildlands network of core reserves.
Travel Management Planning Roads and motorized trails fragment habitat and affect wildlife as more people travel and recreate in the Pike-San Isabel and on BLM lands. Travel management planning defines specific uses of routes on federal public lands. We provide GIS analysis, technical comments and organizing for public participation.
USFS and BLM Project Analysis Wild Connections works with other partners to monitor and comment on agency projects that might adversely affect roadless areas, biodiversity hotspots, or sensitive wildlife habitat and linkages.
Biodiversity Protection A diverse mix of native species is needed to protect the land and those who benefit from it. Wild Connections explores aspects of biodiversity with field trips to wildlife habitat and linkages for key species. Of special concern are Gray wolf, Canada lynx, Pawnee montane skipper butterfly, Prebble's meadow jumping mouse, Mexican spotted owl - all listed under the endagered species act. In addition, hundreds of rare plants, animals and threatened ecosystems are found here.
Pawnee Montane Skipper Census Hesperia leonardis montana, is found only in the South Platte River basin in Jefferson County. Wild Connections in cooperation with Colorado Natural Heritage Program, the USFS and the USFWS has surveyed a section of Trout Creek affected by the Hayman fire every two years since 2010.The butterflies are showing modest recovery.
Wild Connections' mission is to identify, protect, and restore wildlands, native species, and biological diversity in the Arkansas and South Platte watersheds. They are the ancestral lands of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other indigenous peoples.