DU recently accepted an 80-acre easement along the South Platte River in a critical habitat area in Morgan County, Colorado. The property, owned by Mark Vissering, is between the Riverside, Empire and Jackson Reservoirs on the eastern edge of the Golden Triangle priority area, one of three high priority areas along the river,
The property consists of upland agricultural fields and a typical South Platte riparian corridor with warm water sloughs. It provides excellent wintering waterfowl habitat and is located less than one half mile downstream from another 800-acre DU easement. Sixty percent of this easement's appraised value came from the protection of only two shares of Weldona Ditch water.
Due to its proximity to the front-range, DU considers the wetlands and water resources of the South Platte the most threatened in the state and thus a priority for protection. From a continental perspective, the South Platte plays a critical roll in spring migration by providing an important link between wintering areas and the prairie breeding grounds. The South Platte wetland corridor encompasses more than 425,000 acres including 71,000 acres of wetlands. Ninety-four percent of the corridor is still unprotected and thus is at risk of being lost or degraded. Over the next ten years, DU's goal is to protect more than 16,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands along the river.