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.

WSCC Birthday & Reunion!

Join us for a fun evening of celebration and reunion

The Western Slope Conservation Center is celebrating its 40 year legacy with a party and reunion at Zephyros Farm on September 30th! Music, dinner, cake, drinks, storytelling, and more! RSVP today.


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

WSCC Joins Methane Working Group

October 5, 2017
In late September, the Western Slope Conservation Center joined over a dozen other local and regional stakeholders – including coal companies, energy coops, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups – to begin discussion of the impacts, challenges, and opportunities involved with methane coal mine methane capture and mitigation here in the North Fork Valley. The Methane Working Group is still in its initial stages including developing mission, vision, goals, and objectives for the the group. For decades, the Western Slope Conservation Center has worked to find creative and collaborative local solutions to mitigating and minimizing the environmental impacts of coal mining. Over the years, we have worked to safeguard our local surface and ground water quality, as well as minimize surface disturbance and encourage the highest standards of reclamation and restoration. Western Slope Conservation Center intends to continue building on these collaborative efforts in the past, while also working proactively to mitigate and reduce the climate impacts of methane venting that currently occurs with coal mining in the North Fork. Specifically, we have concerns about the significant quantities of methane that would be released from the expansion of the West Elk Mine south and east of Somerset. Please check back for more updates on the Methane Working Group over the coming months.

The North Fork is Too Wild To Drill

October 5, 2017
The North Fork Watershed is Too Wild To Drill! The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bears Ears National Monument. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Greater Grand Canyon Watershed. And, of course…..The North Fork of the Gunnison in Colorado. These are just a few of the incredible places that are highlighted in The Wilderness Society’s Too Wild To Drill campaign, a profile of wild places threatened by oil, gas, and mineral extraction on public lands. Those of us who call the North Fork Valley home know what makes this place unique: fertile soil, organic agriculture, high-country wildlands, desert rivers, and so much more. Earlier this decade, the people of the North Fork Valley rallied together to oppose the nearby BLM lease sale.  We then convinced the BLM to consider the North Fork Citizens’ Alternative in their Resource Management Plan. But the fight is far from over and our home continues to be threatened by oil and gas development. The BLM recently accepted SG Interests Bull Mountain Master Development plan to drill 146 natural gas wells in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Gunnison. Read the full report and sign The Wilderness Society’s petition to oppose oil and gas drilling in the North Fork Valley here. Then, sign our petition telling the BLM to adhere to the protections outlined in the North Fork Alternative in the BLM Resource Management Plan! Video credit: The Wilderness Society FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 19, 2017 Contacts: Alex Johnson, Western Slope Conservation Center, 970-527-5307 x 201, Jeff Schwartz, Delicious Orchards/Big B’s Juices & Hard Ciders, 970-201-7573 Jim Ramey, The Wilderness Society, 303-957-9183, North Fork of the Gunnison makes list of 15 wild areas at high risk of development for oil, gas and other resources  New report shines spotlight on important wild lands that must be protected Paonia, Colorado —A new report released today by The Wilderness Society raises the alarm about Colorado’s upper North Fork of the Gunnison Watershed , along with other wild lands across the U.S. threatened by extractive industries eager to exploit the resources on or underneath them, including oil, gas and coal. ‘Too Wild To Drill’ identifies 15 unique places found on public lands that are at high risk of drilling, mining and other development—and the damage and destruction that inevitably follow. These lands provide Americans with important benefits such as clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, sacred sites, and jobs and other socioeconomic benefits. “This report is a wake-up call to people who love the wild backcountry and national forests around McClure Pass,” said Jeff Schwartz, owner of Delicious Orchards Farm Market and Big B’s Juices & Hard Ciders. “And to those of us who rely on the clean water that flows from these mountain watersheds. Oil and gas development will enrich private interests but take too much away from the North Fork Valley and its ecology, economy, health, and recreation. These public lands and our water sources must be protected.” Energy development damages landscapes, often permanently. Impacts resulting from infrastructure like well pads, oil rigs, roads,

Friendraiser at Delicious Orchards – October 12!

October 5, 2017
WSCC’s Annual Friendraiser at Delicious Orchards Join us on Thursday, October 12 at 4pm for a Friendraiser at Delicious Orchards benefiting the Western Slope Conservation Center! Come eat, drink, and mingle with WSCC staff, board, and members. Learn about our organization, our current campaigns, and all the ways you can get involved – from becoming a member to water sampling to planning events. At the Friendraiser, we will also introduce the “Too Wild to Drill” campaign from The Wilderness Society, featuring the North Fork Valley and 14 other wild places across the United States under threat from oil and gas development. For more information on TWTD, visit our post here. WHEN: Thursday, October 12 at 4pm WHERE: Delicious Orchards (39126 CO-133, Hotchkiss, CO 81419)

Introducing Inspired Art @ Work

October 4, 2017
Western Slope Conservation Center Partners with Elsewhere Studios on INSPIRED: Art at Work Project Elsewhere Studios has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Arts in Society Program for the project, INSPIRED: Art at Work, which will bring artists to Paonia, CO, in summer 2018 for two-month fully funded residencies, as well as provide a stipend and materials allowance for a local artist. Working closely with Western Slope Conservation Center and four other local partner organizations (Citizens for a Healthy Community, Farm and Food Alliance, Solar Energy International, and the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition), and a scientific advisory team, they will create socially-engaged artworks that address issues stemming from the impacts of legacy coal mining, such as: preservation of culture and environment, creation of a resilient economy in rural Colorado, pressures created by oil and gas development, and loss of jobs. These collaborations are designed to broadly engage the community and promote dialog about concerns vital to the future of our area. The community-based or social action art projects, will culminate in a final Symposium scheduled for August 24-26, 2018 that will feature the work of the artists as well as local and national speakers, readings, films, music, live art, and tours of the valley to visit art installations, art studios, farms, and wineries. The Symposium will also help promote the work of the partner organizations. The organizers are looking for community members interested in helping with the project and planning the final symposium. If you are interested, please contact Karen Good at For more information and for link for artist applications, go to

MountainFilm Returns to the Paradise Theater!

October 4, 2017
MOUNTAINFILM 2017 SAVE THE DATE – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2017 Paradise Theater, Paonia, CO Want to help make the magic happen? We are currently seeking volunteers to help plan this event, including screening and selecting films! Email to get involved. Purchase tickets in advance below – $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Want to become a member? Click here! All tickets sold at the door will cost $20. Tickets sold out last year, so we highly encourage you to purchase in advance (and become a member!)  

Every Kid in a Park 2017

September 6, 2017
The Forest Service Youth Engagement Program is celebrating National Public Lands Day on September 22nd! To help every 4th grader in the North Fork find their love for public lands, we’re taking them to Lost Lake.   The Paonia Ranger District will teach students about timber science and introduce them to the Rocky Mountain Pack String mules. WSCC is leading a naturalist hike and The Nature Connection will make seed bombs and build bluebird homes with the students. Got an eye for photography? Or a knack for wrangling elementary schoolers? We’re looking for volunteers to come along to Lost Lake! Help us keep the day running smoothly and enjoy a beautiful fall day in the high country. Let us know if you can come! We’ll meet at the Paonia Ranger District at 7:15am on 9/22 to carpool up to Lost Lake.  

Watershed Committee Tours Paonia Dam and Fire Mountain Canal

September 5, 2017
Last Wednesday, members of the Watershed Committee got the chance to visit the Paonia Reservoir Dam and portions of Fire Mountain Canal.  Steve Fletcher of Fire Mountain Canal and Mark Smith of the North Fork Water Conservancy District took the group on an extensive tour of  the dam infrastructure.  The group descended 200’ to see the internal gates and structure of the dam.  Steve explained the history of the Paonia Reservoir and the water it supplies to Roger’s Mesa and others throughout the North Fork Valley.  He also explained what needed to take place this fall to make repairs to the bulkhead within the reservoir intake.     The group then traveled down river to see the Fire Mountain Canal Diversion below Somerset. Steve explained the function of the diversion and also the improvements they have made to reduce the amount of debris that can get caught in the trash rack.  The group was able to see the bear creek gate that allows Fire Mountain Canal to make fine adjustments to the volume of water flowing through the canal.  The tour ended at Terror Creek where the canal makes an impressive dive under that creek, using a siphon to return the canal back above ground to the open ditch before continuing down to Roger’s Mesa .  Interested in how you can be a part of water quality monitoring that is going on this fall as part of the Paonia Reservoir draw down?  Contact

Stompin’ Grapes and Taking Names

August 16, 2017
Ah, the crisp fall air is rolling in. We can’t wait for the scent of mulled hot cider, watching the aspens change, and feeling grapes between our toes. Wait, what? Yep, the Mountain Harvest Festival is upon us, and it’s time to get those competitive–and grape–juices flowing at the Grape Stomp! It takes place from 12-2 on September 23rd at Paonia Town Park. This year’s theme is TV Cartoons and Lucy Look-a-Like. If you dress like Lucy, let’s hope you’ll be a little better at staying upright. So get scheming like Wile E. Coyote, and sign up a team of two, three, or four.   Team registration is $75, and the deadline is Sept. 18th. Proceeds from the event will be split between Western Slope Conservation Center, Solar Energy International, and Delta County Public Libraries. We are looking for volunteers to keep the event fun and rolling smoothly. Please sign up here if you can help set up and get everything looking snazzy; weigh the grapes and keep the peace with your objectivity; or time the stompers.  

The Earth Beneath Our Feet: ‘Dobies Edition!

August 16, 2017
BACK ONCE AGAIN BY POPULAR DEMAND…..Come join locally famous geologist and WSCC Board Member Dr. Dave Noe for a journey into Delta County’s celebrated and sometimes-berated ‘Dobie badlands! This guided hike will ascend Petrie Mesa to Devils Thumb, where we will enjoy an eagle’s-eye view of Delta and the Gunnison/Uncompahgre River valleys. Dr. Noe will regale us all with the geologic history of this fascinating area, including a tale about a monstrous volcanic explosion in Yellowstone and how it figures into the 640,000-year history of Petrie Mesa! Date: Saturday, August 26, 2017 Meet-up time: 9:00 am Meet at the eastern edge of the City Market parking lot, in Delta We will car pool to the trailhead at 9:15 am, using high clearance vehicles Hike duration: about 4 hours Limitations:  No children under 10 years of age In the event of rain and mud, hike is subject to postponement The hike is only a few miles round trip, but the route follows an unimproved path that is quite steep and arduous in places. What to bring: Hiking shoes, plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses, camera A hiking pole is optional but strongly recommended
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