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Northern and Southern Rockies / Colorado Plateau - More Information

Background information on DU's Northern and Southern Rockies / Colorado Plateau conservation priority area
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Ducks Unlimited's "High Country Wetlands" initiative prioritizes 18 focus areas within the RCP. In Montana, these focus areas are the Flathead Valley, Bitterroot Valley, Blackfoot Valley, Clark Fork Valley, Beaverhead Valley, and the Centennial Valley. Focus areas in Wyoming include the Bighorn Valley, Green River Valley, Upper North Platte Basin, Bear River Valley, Wind River Basin, and the Laramie Basin. Colorado focus areas are in the Yampa Valley, North Park, Middle Park, South Park, Colorado-Gunnison Valley, and the San Luis Valley. Principal complexes where work will occur based out of DU's Western Regional Office include Pend 'Oreille (ID), Kootenai (ID), Okanagon (WA), Scabland (WA), Blue Mountains (OR), Green River (UT), and the Middle Rio Grande (NM). These rich wetland communities, many of which lie along riparian areas or within intermountain basins, contain outstanding waterfowl habitat but face threats from human development and water depletions. Accordingly, DU will concentrate our conservation programs in these areas.

Goals (2005-'09)

  • Maintain no net loss of wetlands and associated uplands within DU focus areas.
  • Protect 1,000 ha of critical wetlands and wetland complexes in portions of the RCP outside of DU focus areas.
  • Restore and create 1,500 ha of wetlands to restore values formerly provided by beaver pond complexes and glacial ponds in Lower and Upper Montane zones within DU focus areas.
  • Restore and protect 3,000 ha of wetlands to restore values formerly provided by floodplain wetlands along rivers and streams.
  • Maintain the hydrologic integrity of naturally occurring wetlands by securing conservation easements.
  • Maintain the habitat value of 1,000 ha of managed wetlands by implementing projects that replace dilapidated water management systems and control undesirable vegetative communities.


  • Human population growth in the RCP will continue at the rapid rate experienced in the 1990s, and therefore investments in habitat protection are needed to sustain current waterfowl population levels.
  • Emulating natural events like fires, floods and drought will enable us to sustain the functions and values of wetlands we seek to restore, protect and manage, thereby allowing us to achieve waterfowl population objectives.
  • We know where to locate and manage wetland complexes in a landscape to mimic the values provided to waterfowl by beaver pond complexes and glacial potholes.
  • We know how to mimic the hydrology associated with overbank-flooding events to promote the development of plant and invertebrate communities in seasonal floodplain wetlands.


  • Employ GIS to target areas of the RCP for land protection and wetland restoration.
  • Use donated and purchased conservation easements, along with revolving land purchases, as the principal mechanisms to protect land.
  • Restore wetland complexes or large marshes using established engineering approaches, being careful to provide only the water management capabilities that will be utilized and are cost-effective.
  • Purchase/secure water rights to guarantee the hydrologic integrity of naturally occurring and managed wetlands.
  • Maintain relationships with traditional cooperators and develop new partnerships for conservation, particularly with agencies that have jurisdiction over much of the landmass in the RCP.
  • Recognize that operations and maintenance costs are a reality for many of the private and public wetland managers in the region, and provide assistance to those landowners wherever possible in order to maintain high quality wetland habitat that provides long-term benefits to waterfowl.
  • Assist in efforts to intensively manage seasonal wetland habitats where appropriate, primarily on publicly managed areas and certain privately owned parcels managed primarily for waterfowl.
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