Citizen Science: Fall project to study Big Dominguez Creek area

Sharon Sullivan

With the 2009 designation of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, Colorado Canyons Association expects to see increased curiosity and visitors to the stunning red rock canyon area southeast of Grand Junction.

Working with the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Canyons Association hope to begin this fall a project to study the NCA’s riparian community along Big Dominguez Creek.

A $23,000 multiple-year BLM National Conservation Lands Science Grant was awarded to the CCA to also establish a citizen science program to help with the inventory and ongoing monitoring of the vegetation along Big Dominguez Creek.

“Dominguez-Escalante is an extremely significant area for our community,” CCA Executive Director Joe Neuhof said. “Maintaining it ecologically, and for recreation is important.”

The first prong of the program will develop a baseline inventory of the riparian plant communities along the creek, Neuhof said.

“Once we establish that, over the next three to four years, hopefully longer, we’ll monitor the vegetative community to see if there are any changes.”

The goal is to see how increased use of the area impacts the vegetation, he said.

There are three NCAs within an hour’s driving distance from Grand Junction — “all three designated in part for their scientific value,” Neuhof said.

“We’re excited to engage the public to do worthwhile science on the ground. We’ll be looking to train volunteers to do the baseline study and to help with the monitoring.”

The Colorado proposal is one of 16 projects (totaling $356,000) selected for funding from a pool of 57 proposals submitted nationally.

“This grant is a big deal for us — they did not give out many due to budget cuts, sequestration,” Neuhof said.

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