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February 23, 2006
Conservation Alliance Funding Helps Remove Dam on North Fork Gunnison River
Grant to the North Fork River Improvement Association Helps Restore Habitat and Provides Safe Passage for Boaters
Bend, Ore. (February 23, 2006) â€“ Conservation Alliance funding has helped remove a 180-foot diversion dam from the North Fork of the Gunnison River near Hotchkiss, Colorado. The dam removal will help restore a 33-mile stretch of the Gunnison, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in the river corridor.
The Conservation Alliance gave $15,000 to the Paonia, Colorado-based North Fork River Improvement Association (www.nfria.paonia.com <http://www.nfria.paonia.com/> ) to support the group’s effort to remove the Chipeta Dam. The dam was built to divert water from the river to the Chipeta Fish Hatchery, but had been obsolete for several years.
NFRIA worked with local Trout Unlimited chapters, the Paonia Kayak Club, riverfront landowners, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the dam from this popular stretch of river. Removal began on January 31, 2006 and concluded on February 16 2006.
â€œConservation Alliance members can be satisfied knowing that our funding made a difference in restoring the North Fork Gunnison River,â€ said John Sterling, Conservation Alliance Executive Director. â€œThis successful project has tangible benefits for both wildlife and recreational users.â€
In addition to the recreational benefits, the dam removal will improve habitat for fish and wildlife. The removal opens a migration corridor for rainbow and brown trout, and for native bluehead and flannelmouth suckers. NFRIA is now working to restore riparian habitat along the river, which will help the deer, elk, eagles, hawks and songbirds that depend on the river corridor.
â€œConservation Alliance funds played a vital roll in the Chipeta Dam Removal Project,â€ said Teresa Steely, NFRIA Executive Director. â€œThe timeliness of the grant facilitated quick payment of contractors, and ultimately resulted in an area where fish and wildlife will flourish and boaters can pass uninhibited.â€
Conservation Alliance member Chaco, Inc. nominated NFRIA for funding in May 2005, and the Alliance membership voted to fund the group in October.
â€œThis is a big conservation victory for our area,â€ said Chaco’s Dave Knutson. â€œNFRIA removed a man-made structure that interfered with the local ecology of the river, and created a safer stretch of river for paddlers. It’s great that the Conservation Alliance came through on this project.â€
About the Conservation Alliance:
The Conservation Alliance is an organization of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas.
Membership in the Alliance is open to companies representing all aspects of the outdoor industry, including manufacturers, retailers, publishers, mills and sales representatives. The result is a diverse group of businesses whose livelihood depends on protecting our natural environment.
Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed more than $4.7 million to grassroots environmental groups. Alliance funding has helped save over 34 million acres of wildlands; 25 dams have either been stopped or removed; and the group helped preserve access to more than 16,000 miles of waterways and several climbing areas.
For complete information on the Conservation Alliance, see www.conservationalliance.com <http://www.conservationalliance.com/> .