Colorado project enhances waterfowl habitat

Wetlands will be managed for people and waterfowl

Billy Gascoigne (left), DU conservation project manager, and Matt Reddy, DU regional biologist, host a partner field tour.

© Ducks Unlimited

Billy Gascoigne (left), DU conservation project manager, and Matt Reddy, DU regional biologist, host a partner field tour.

Water is a precious resource in western states like Colorado. It is increasingly important to identify project opportunities where water resources can be used efficiently to benefit many, including waterfowl. This is exactly what Ducks Unlimited accomplished through the recently-completed Bijou Ranch project.

Located in the South Platte River Basin—a priority landscape for DU in Colorado—the Bijou Ranch project restored more than 200 moist-soil wetland acres that will provide ideal habitat conditions for birds looking to fuel up on their migrations. These wetlands are also used for groundwater recharge, administered through a local irrigation company. The resulting recharge water is then used by nearby farmers to offset pumping of their irrigation wells.

The project site became degraded over the years from a lack of water control and a major flood. "The landowner and the irrigation company knew something had to be done to restore these basins for wildlife and farmers," said Billy Gascoigne, DU conservation project manager. "It was a perfect fit for DU."

DU engineered new embankments, water control structures, and rebalanced over 30,000 cubic yards of dirt to achieve the desired outcomes.

"This project exemplifies the unique role DU can play in bringing together an array of partners," Gascoigne said.

The partnership included Bijou Creek Ranch, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bijou Irrigation Company, Gates Family Foundation, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.