Making River Education and Restoration Possible

RiversEdge West
April 18th, 2019
 
RiversEdge West improves riverside habitat and educates students thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Xcel Energy Foundation
 
 
Grand Junction, CO – RiversEdge West (REW), a Grand Junction-based nonprofit focused on restoring riverside lands, is celebrating the completion of a $20,000 grant that was awarded from the Xcel Energy Foundation in 2018.  Funds from the foundation supported REW’s Desert Rivers Collaborative (DRC) and riparian (riverside) education program. 
 
In total, RiversEdge West implemented
  • invasive plant control measures on over 238 acres of public and private lands in the Grand Valley, including sites at the Grand Valley Audubon Nature Preserve, Horsethief State Wildlife Area, Skippers Island, Connected Lakes, and on Bureau of Reclamation properties at Colorado River Wildlife Area, DeBeque Wildlife Area, Grand Junction Wildlife Area and Cameo;
  • strategically reduced invasive plant infestations to reduce fire risks in urban areas while collaborating with the newly formed Two Rivers Wildfire Council to address current and future needs in regards to wildfire prevention/mitigation, and;
  • inspired over 1,518 Mesa County students through REW’s new river education program.
 
Invasive plant species, including tamarisk (also known as salt cedar) and Russian olive, degrade the ability of riparian areas to provide essential habitat and resources for humans and wildlife alike. Tamarisk and Russian olive’s dense growth patterns block access for recreation and agriculture, create hazards for river runners, invade popular campsites, channelize waterways, and, in the case of tamarisk, facilitate increased wildfires. Both species displace native vegetation, which negatively impacts fish and wildlife habitat, and water usage by these plants can also be substantial, most notably in areas where these species displace less thirsty plants such as sagebrush and rabbitbrush.
 
To combat this problem, REW formed the DRC in 2012 to provide a coordinated platform for local land managers in Mesa and Delta Counties to conduct restoration efforts for the benefit of overall river health and improved local communities. The DRC focuses on the Colorado River in the Grand Valley region, which encompasses Grand Junction, Clifton, Palisade, and Fruita. Projects also span the lower Gunnison River from its confluence with the Colorado River to Delta.  Over the last several years, approximately 1,300 acres of riparian (riverside) restoration has been addressed by the DRC, with work currently planned for several additional sites throughout 2019.
 
Recognizing the importance of inspiring the next generation of stewards and building community support for this important work, REW is also a local leader for educating youth and adults about the importance of healthy riparian habitats.  Towards that end, funding from the Xcel Energy Foundation allowed REW to design, develop, and begin teaching river-related education classes to students at both the elementary and university levels, as well as host their 4th Annual Raft the River event for the community at large.
 
    
 
If you are interested in touring local restoration sites up-close and personal, consider joining REW on their next Raft the River trip on August 24th. Rimrock Adventure guides and hand-picked local river experts will provide an informative, fun float down the Colorado River with après dinner, drinks, live music, and prizes to boot. For more information on the raft trip or to learn more about local restoration projects, please contact REW at 970-256-7400 or visit http://www.riversedgewest.org.
 
     
 
 
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RiversEdge West is a Grand Junction-based 501 (c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of riparian lands through education, collaboration, and technical assistance.
 
Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company operating in eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is committed to providing cost-effective, clean, responsible energy delivered with the highest standards for safety, reliability, and responsiveness. Xcel Energy supports communities in four important focus areas: STEM education; environmental stewardship; economic sustainability; and access to arts and culture.

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.

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