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PitCo Open Space Board Agrees To Funding Wildlife Studies

Oct 9, 2018

Mountain goats graze in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The goats are not native to Colorado, and they are part of a new Colorado Parks and Wildlife study aimed at helping native bighorn sheep herds recover in the area.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County has committed to using science to protect wildlife and habitat on the 5,000 acres of open space property it owns, and last week, the Open Space and Trails Board recommended spending more than $200,000 studying area wildlife.


Much of the funding is going to a new local organization, called the Watershed Biodiversity Initiative. That group, which is headed up by Tom Cardamone, is undertaking a landscape-wide survey that looks at the entire Roaring Fork watershed. Its goal is to identify the highest priority areas in the watershed for restoration and conservation.

The studies will focus on key species, including elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, beavers and bears. Cardamone said this research will give land managers like Open Space and Trails and the U.S. Forest Service the tools to understand how decisions they make will impact wildlife, on a large scale.

In addition, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) asked for a total of about $90,000 for three different species-specific studies, which look specifically at bighorn sheep and elk.