Key Property Within Gunnison Gorge NCA Preserved

April 23, 2010

Dillon Pinnacles Black Canyon Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Photo by Rickola Remintola/Flickr

Montrose, CO – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Conservation Fund announced today the preservation of an important 552-acre inholding within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) near Montrose. The 62,000-acre Gunnison Gorge NCA provides critical wildlife and riparian habitat, including 22 miles of the Gunnison River and 17,700 acres of wilderness area. The NCA supports a diverse range of recreational uses such as whitewater and flat water boating, trout fishing, hunting for big game, waterfowl and upland birds, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding and designated areas for off-highway vehicle use.

“Bringing this inholding into public hands will enhance recreational opportunities in this area and preserve view sheds and critical wildlife habitat,” said Gunnison Gorge NCA Manager Karen Tucker. “The inholding could have been developed as a rural subdivision, which would have changed the character of this area and the adjacent Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.”

In 2007, the BLM identified the purchase of this inholding as a top national priority by including funds for this project in its budget request to Congress. The BLM acquired the property with funds that the Colorado congressional delegation secured from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Fiscal Year 2008 Interior appropriations bill. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program established by Congress in 1964 to provide funds for federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of the public.

“This inholding within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area will enhance the area’s recreational tourism opportunities and protect wildlife habitat,” said Congressman John Salazar, who helped secure the federal funding necessary to complete the transaction. “I’m glad to have helped make it a reality.”

The Montrose County Commissioners, Delta County Commissioners, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Black Canyon Land Trust and National Park Service also supported the acquisition.

“This property allows a continuous access route through the Gunnison Gorge NCA,” said Christine Quinlan of The Conservation Fund’s Colorado office. “I credit the Nicolas family for working cooperatively with us to add their upper ranch to the NCA. This will benefit wildlife and recreational users.”

The recently acquired parcels are northeast of Montrose, Colo. They are bordered on the east by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the north by the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness and otherwise surrounded by the NCA. They were previously owned by the August Nicolas Family Partnership, which willingly worked with BLM and The Conservation Fund for several years on the acquisition.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.