The mission of the Western Slope Conservation Center is to build an active and aware community to protect and enhance the lands, air, water, and wildlife of the Lower Gunnison Watershed.



Learn more and get involved by taking action with us.

The Western Slope Conservation Center is always working to ensure the health and preservation of the Western Slope of Colorado by working with our local, state, and federal governments, businesses, conservationists and stakeholders.


Working with the Community to protect our land for generations to come.

At WSCC, we work to ensure continued conservation efforts by working alongside community members and creating educational opportunities within local schools.


The Conservation Center has been working since 1977, check out what we've done.

The Conservation Center maintains an interactive map that includes a wealth of watershed information that you can explore. Our map layers include oil & gas leases and wells, irrigation ditches, restoration sites, soil data, USFS recreation routes, and more.




We formed in 1977 to disseminate information about regional energy development and its impacts on the region’s natural resources. Today, our mission is to build an active and aware community to protect and enhance the lands, air, water and wildlife of the Lower Gunnison Watershed.

As a result of our work, in 35 years the communities of the Lower Gunnison Watershed will be characterized by intact and functioning ecosystems, clean and abundant water resources, well-managed lands with the highest level of protection they deserve, and informed and an engaged citizenry that understand the connection between the vitality of its ecological and social communities.



Once an in-stream gravel mine, we have worked hard and received several grants to restore riparian habitat and make the Park a family-friendly recreation area.


The Conservation Center is dedicated to keeping a watchful eye on the quality of our water quality. Our volunteers monitor every month and collect samples from an established network of stream stations.


The data illustrated in our interactive maps tell the true story of conservation in Delta County. Layers represent oil & gas development, roadless areas, irrigation ditches and more.


Air & Water Quality
Public Lands
River Park

Event Recap: Paonia River Park Trail Upgrades

May 18, 2017
Last week the Paonia River Park walking trail received some much needed repairs and upgrades with the help of a crew from Western Colorado Conservation Corps!  Improvements to the trail included: widening and resurfacing narrow sections, rebuilding grade on steep slopes, repairing ruts, replacing bridges, removing invasive species, and replacing sections of the trail where fabric was showing through.  Thanks to everyone who helped out and hope to see you all this summer enjoying the trail!  Interested in seeing the upgrades? Join us this Saturday morning, May 20th, 9-11am, for River Park Clean up!    

Defend our national monuments and the Antiquities Act

May 2, 2017
TAKE ACTION: President Trump is attacking our national parks, public lands and waters in the mountain West President Trump has signed an executive order attempting to eliminate or shrink national monuments that have been protected by past presidents, including Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Canyons of the Ancients, Rio Grande Del Norte, Browns Canyon, and Colorado National Monuments. This is an attack on our heritage and the public lands and waters that are critical to our economy and way of life. The executive order puts the fate of our parks and monuments in the hands of Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. Now is the time to show Secretary Zinke that residents of the Western Slope want our lands to remain protected. With your help, we can demonstrate the overwhelming public support for Bears Ears and all national monuments. Please submit your comment today. The Bears Ears comment period ends on May 26th! ONLINE COMMENTS ARE DUE BY 11:59PM EST TODAY, MAY 26. Comments submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than May 26, and received at the DOI by June 1. Sixteen presidents from both sides of the aisle have designated national monuments to protect places from the Grand Canyon to Bears Ears to Papahānaumokuākea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Act also helps tell a more complete story of our nation, protecting sites from Stonewall to Birmingham to Cesar Chavez. The American Public, including residents of the Western Slope, overwhelming support our national monuments and no president has ever attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation, until now. Tell Secretary Zinke that those of us on the Western Slope want Bears Ears and all national monuments to be protected for future generations. Thanks for taking action today! ### Consider sending a copy of your comments directly to Representative Tipton as well. Contact Representative Tipton: Washington (202) 225-4761 Grand Junction (970) 241-2499 Dear Representative Tipton, I am extremely disappointed that President Trump has signed an executive order that attempts to undermine our national monuments, including Bears Ears, Rio Grande del Norte, and Browns Canyon National Monuments.  I strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments. Our national parks and public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage.  These incredible resources are also critical to western Colorado’s economy – driving tourism, outdoor recreation, and a quality of life associated with healthy public lands. A 120-day review makes a mockery of the decades of work that local communities have invested to protect Bears Ears and other national monuments for future generations. Any honest review of a national monument would be transparent, engage the public, and consider the decades of community engagement behind many of these monuments. Here in Colorado, our support for protecting special places is strong, and the public overwhelmingly opposes this and other attacks on national parks, monuments, public lands, and waters. I urge you to support our

Youth Outdoor Network Year-End Celebration at Sweitzer State Park

May 2, 2017
Delta County Youth Learn and Play at Sweitzer Lake State Park On April 21st, forty-five Youth Outdoor Network students celebrated Earth Day and the end of a successful first year at Sweitzer Lake State Park. Students from the five participating high schools–Paonia, Delta, Olathe, Cedaredge, and Hotchkiss High Schools–learned survival skills from Anita Evans, director of the Nature Connection. Armed with flint and cottonballs and faced with a ceaseless wind, students raced to build a fire the fastest. Ingenuity paid off and those students who incorporated found objects–namely dried horse poop–were the first to get their fires burning. Rotating through stations, students constructed and painted bat boxes; learned to make “seed bombs;” and collected trash to clean up the park. Intrepid students braved the wind and ventured out onto Sweitzer Lake atop stand-up paddleboards and canoes. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat accompanied students onto the lake, and pulled out a few students after the wind got the best of them. Teressa Chambers, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteer, taught students how to safely shoot a bow and arrow. The archery competition got fierce, and several students shot bulls-eyes after Teressa’s expert tutelage. The whole day was agreed to be a bulls-eye by the students, who are excited for the upcoming year of the Youth Outdoor Network. Youth Outdoor Network: The Youth Outdoor Network is a collaboration between the Western Slope Conservation Center, The Nature Connection, and the US Forest Service that seeks to create outdoor recreation activities and pathways to natural resource careers for local youth. Through field trips, service learning, and guest speakers from government agencies, local non-profits, and outdoor outfitters, students explore outdoor careers and learn how they can start building skills today.

Leah’s 40th-birthday Run to celebrate WSCC’s 40th

April 14, 2017
UPDATE!!! Leah DID it! Leah DID it! On Saturday, May 20th, Leah ran 28.03 miles, longer than she has ever run in her first 40 years! Family and friends supported and cheered Leah on along the way, with a stop at the Paonia River Park, Hotchkiss Fairgrounds, and culminating with a welcoming crowd at Pleasure Park where the North Fork and Gunnison Rivers meet. Leah raised $102 in pledges PER MILE! That means Leah’s run has raised $2,856 for the Western Slope Conservation Center in honor of our shared 40th birthday. The board and staff of WSCC are thrilled and inspired by Leah’s creative and ambitious show of support for protecting the public lands and watershed of our shared home. For everyone who has pledged, you can send a check to WSCC, PO Box 1612, Paonia, CO 81428, or follow this link to our online donation page, where you can click on the donation button to pay via credit card or PayPal. Quick math: $1 per mile: $28 $2 per mile: $56 $3 per mile: $84 $4 per mile: $112 $5 per mile: $140 $10 per mile: $280 THANK YOU for your donations in honor of Leah and WSCC! Original post: From Leah: “My 40th birthday is coming up in about 6 weeks, and I see it as an opportunity to shamelessly exploit my age to raise money for an organization I really value here in the North Fork Valley. On May 20, I plan to run as far as I can, farther than I ever have run. I’m not sure how far this will be, but hopefully 20-30 miles. I am looking for people who will be willing to pledge per mile or any amount, and have those contributions go to the Western Slope Conservation Center, a local non-profit (so your donations are tax deductible) which also turned 40 this year. For folks who’d rather not donate, please think about running or biking some of the distance with me (so it can be a party! with music! and fun!), or think about how you can make an impact in your own communities.” If you are interested in participating, you can contact pledge using this pledge form, and Leah and the Conservation Center will keep you posted on the event itself as well as how many miles Leah run in total! As it so happens, Western Slope Conservation Center is turning 40 this year also! Thanks, Leah, for helping us celebrate in such a fun way. And thanks to everyone who donates in honor of Leah! From Leah: “This is another view of my route. I will basically start off to the left and run to the right.  
Events News Public Lands

CO DNR Researcher Presents on Mule Deer + Energy Development

April 10, 2017
Title: “Mule deer population dynamics in the Piceance Basin: responses to recent energy development activities and historic changes in deer demographic parameters.” 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 11th Paonia Public Library Background: This project was initiated in 2008 to address mule deer/energy development interactions and to identify improved approaches for development planning and evaluate habitat treatments as a mitigation option to benefit mule deer exposed to energy development activity. As is typically the case with long-term research projects, we learned several other aspects about mule deer population dynamics that were not the primary focus of the initial research effort.  The Piceance Basin supports the largest migratory mule deer population in Colorado and has been the focus of past research efforts during the 1980s and early 1990s.  Comparing data collected since 2008 to similar data collected during the 1980s-early 1990s provided interesting comparisons to better understand how mule deer population dynamics in this area have changed over the past few decades.  This information highlighted the decline in deer numbers occurring during the early 1990s, which has remained at similar levels since, and a shift from a primarily habitat/forage limited system during the 1980s to improved forage conditions that are not currently limiting this population.  The interesting question is why haven’t deer numbers increased given that this population is no longer limited by forage conditions?  I will address changes mule deer demographic parameters since the 1980s and address potential factors currently influencing this population. Biography for Chuck Anderson: Chuck Anderson received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University in 1990 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology and Physiology from the University of Wyoming in 1994 and 2003, respectively. During his Master’s work, he developed and evaluated helicopter sightability models to estimate moose and elk population size and composition. Chuck’s dissertation research involved a number of projects addressing cougar management, predation and population genetics. Chuck was a Large Carnivore Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department from 1994 to 1997 and from 2004 to 2006, where he directed research evaluating grizzly bear-cattle interactions and application of DNA-based mark-recapture methods for estimating black and grizzly bear populations. Additionally, he analyzed annual harvest data and prepared annual management recommendations for cougar and black bear populations. During 2003 and 2004, Chuck was a Research Biologist with Arizona Game and Fish Department, where he investigated pronghorn migration patterns and a disease outbreak in desert bighorn sheep. Since December 2006, he has worked in the Mammals Research Section for the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW). In this capacity, he has focused on ungulate research and is investigating landscape scale mule deer/energy development interactions to develop mitigation approaches that benefit mule deer populations in areas experiencing extensive energy development. In addition, Chuck has been serving as Mammals Research Leader for CPW since April, 2013.
News Public Lands

Senator Bennet’s Conservation Leadership

April 10, 2017
Senator Bennet has been making news lately with several bills and actions. Read more below. Bennet Statement on President’s Anti-Climate Executive Order Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s Executive Order that attempts to reverse multiple major U.S. initiatives to combat climate change. “This anti-climate Executive Order is a direct assault on the health of our children and clean energy economy,” Bennet said. “President Trump’s decision to rewrite the Clean Power Plan could jeopardize thousands of new jobs and billions to our economy, and produce a confusing patchwork of state laws for American businesses. It also could prevent the EPA from regulating clean air and water, sacrificing a rigorous scientific process in the name of ideology. Instead of leading the fight against climate change and transition to clean energy, this Administration has abandoned it.”  “Despite this disturbing action, Colorado will continue to lead the nation by growing its clean energy economy and meeting its target under the Clean Power Plan,” Bennet continued.  “I’ll continue to work across the aisle to combat climate change for our businesses, our children’s health, and the future of our planet.” Read the full letter here. Bennet Announces Second Round of Colorado Farm Bill Listening Sessions Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced the next round of Farm Bill listening sessions with his staff, which will be held in April in the San Luis Valley, Western Colorado, and the Denver area. Bennet is partnering with local producers and agricultural organizations to hold more than two dozen staff-led listening sessions across the state in advance of his work on the next Farm Bill. Bennet will be in Hotchkiss on April 12th. 1:30 – 3pm Delicious Orchards 39126 Highway 133, Hotchkiss, CO 81419 RSVP HERE Bennet Introduces Bill to Permanently Authorize, Fully Fund Land and Water Conservation Fund Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation that permanently authorizes and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which conserves and promotes access to America’s parks, rivers, forests, and public lands. “Access to Colorado’s open spaces is critical to our thriving outdoor recreation economy,” Bennet said. “The LWCF has supported hundreds of projects across Colorado, from protecting the Ophir Valley to expanding and improving the Animas River Trail to providing Denver kids with outdoor educational opportunities in their own neighborhoods. Its permanent reauthorization and full funding would ensure that these widely-supported projects continue in the future.” Read full bill here Bennet Reintroduces Thompson Divide Protection Bill Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today introduced the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of 2017 to protect more than 172,000 acres in the Thompson Divide and adjacent areas from the possibility of future leasing, while providing compensation for Thompson Divide leaseholders. “The bill reflects the voices of those who live, work, and recreate in the Thompson Divide area,”Bennet said. “We’ve taken great steps by working with these communities to reach a final resolution for long-term certainty and

6th Annual Conservation Days at the Paonia River Park

April 10, 2017
We are gearing up for the Western Slope Conservation Center’s 6th Annual Conservation Days. Conservation Days provides an opportunity for Delta County 4th graders to experience outdoor and conservation education at the Paonia River Park. WSCC ensures that the event comes at no cost to the schools or kids. Partners from the BLM, US Forest Service, Audubon Society, SEI, and more set up unique education stations through which kids rotate and learn about various aspects of conservation and outdoor safety. This year’s event is on Thursday, April 27th and Friday, April 28th. Our generous Conservation Days sponsors are: Kampe Foundation, DMEA, Alpine Bank, First Colorado National Bank, Paonia Realty, Double J Disposal, and Redwood Arms Motel.
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