Over two dozen globally and statewide threatened plant and animal species can be found in Gunnison County. These species include the Colorado River cutthroat trout, Gunnison milkvetch, the willow carr, the boreal toad, and the Canada lynx. Gunnison County is also home to the Gunnison sage-grouse, which is listed as ‘Threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act. For species with small populations, the remaining individual plant and animals become increasingly important.
Permanently protecting critical habitat for sensitive species is the best way to ensure their future longevity and the possibility that these species could someday rebound to their former vitality.
FROM SAGE-BRUSH TO HIGH PEAKS.
Most of the protected lands in Gunnison County, like most of the protected lands in the United States, are located at high elevations. While high elevations often have breathtaking views, they are usually ‘rock and ice’ habitats with very little species diversity.
Broadening the elevational range of protected lands ensures that a greater number of species are conserved. In Gunnison County, some of our most vulnerable species and habitat are found in the sage-brush ecosystem, an ecosystem that is very poorly protected nationally. Big-game is also found at lower elevations, so protecting mid-elevation habits like sagebrush and aspen, benefits not only our most threatened plants and animals, but also our hunting resources.