Colowyo Mine: Protecting the Greater Sage-grouse in Colorado

Sharp-tailed grouse

Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesperson Michelle Cowardin with a Sharp-tailed grouse near the Colowyo mine property

While Colowyo is best known for providing fuel to Tri-State’s Craig Station, it has recently been honored for its commitment to environmental preservation and conservation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Many types of animals call the land owned by Colowyo “home,” including; herds of elk and mule deer, pronghorn, endangered fish, bald and golden eagles, sandhill crane, large carnivores, and hundreds of Greater Sage-grouse and Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse. The largest Colorado populations of Greater Sage-grouse and Colombian Sharp-tail grouse reside in and around the Colowyo mine property.

Colowyo’s land profile includes tens of thousands of acres of grouse habitat, and the mine has always welcomed CPW onto their land for annual lek (breeding) counts, but their involvement goes far beyond that. Colowyo was a major partner in some of the first Greater Sage-grouse research projects in northwest Colorado – providing funds, access, logistical support and housing for researchers since 2001. Many young researchers make use of Colowyo’s Axial Basin “Grouse House” while observing the numerous animals native to this area of the state. Finally, Colowyo sponsored the Greater Sage and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Workshop to support ongoing conservation and management on a national level.

Because reserves in the current area being mined are nearly depleted, Colowyo is in the final stages of expansion planning at the mine. As a part of continued development of the mine, Colowyo has chosen to mitigate potential impacts to Greater Sage-grouse with a package of mitigation measures that include the donation of over 4,500 acres of high priority sage brush habitat and financial contributions to CPW to offset costs for monitoring, management and research of the Greater Sage-grouse.

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