Press Release – Colorado River Restoration Project Launched

Youth Corps Partnership Project Helps One of the West’s Most Important Rivers

Denver, CO (May 20, 2013) – Today, the Conservation Lands Foundation launched their first week-long restoration project on the Colorado River in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. This area is part of the National Conservation Lands – 28 million acres of protected lands known for their culturally, ecologically and scientifically significant landscapes – managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

An eight-person youth corps crew, with young people between ages 18 and 25 from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps will remove invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Colorado River. These deep-rooted plants obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table, and present a threat to the river’s water supply that is needed by native flora and fauna as well as by the river’s water recreation users. The crew will also remove Russian knapweed and plant and protect native Freemont cottonwoods and coyote willow. The re-introduction of these native species will enhance wildlife habitat, help rehabilitate the river corridor and improve water quality.

The Colorado River is one of the most important rivers in the western U.S., being a vital source of water for agricultural and urban areas in the southwestern desert lands. Over-allocation of the river and drought have placed significant stress on water supplies, river health, and fish and wildlife in Colorado. Work to restore the river will help eradicate the dwindling of this precious water resource.

The project is being undertaken thanks to a private donation of $10,000 from Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), one of Canada’s largest corporate donors and contributors to charitable organizations worldwide, to the Conservation Lands Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to RBC for helping us put ‘boots on the ground’ in Colorado,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “McInnis Canyons and the Colorado River are cornerstones of the National Conservation Lands and important to so many people. RBC’s gift has given this partnership and river an important boost.”

The $10,000 gift from RBC is part of the bank’s “Blue Water Project,” launched in 2007. The Blue Water Project is a wide-ranging, multi-year program to help foster a culture of water stewardship in Canada and abroad. RBC has committed in excess of $36 million to more than 500 organizations for awareness, education and on-the-ground programs that protect watersheds and ensure access to clean drinking water.

The funding supports the first project by a new Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps Partnership initiated by the Conservation Lands Foundation last fall aimed at enhancing water quality, wildlife habitat and creating jobs on National Conservation Lands. The partnership is a unique collaboration of private funders, youth conservation corps, veterans and community volunteers.

“From trail construction to invasive species removal, youth corps crews play a vital role in public lands management in Colorado,” said Helen Hankins, BLM Colorado’s state director. “We truly appreciate the collaboration between the Conservation Lands Foundation, Royal Bank of Canada and the Colorado Youth Corps Association as their efforts expand our capabilities while creating employment opportunities for youth.”

“The Western Colorado Conservation Corps is providing a lifeline to one of the American West’s most precious natural resources: the Colorado River,” said Jennifer Freeman, executive director of the Colorado Youth Corps Association, a coalition of accredited, statewide youth conservation corps, including the WCCC. “On the youth corps’ behalf, we at the Colorado Youth Corps Association extend our thanks to Royal Bank of Canada for its donation, which allows youth corps to work on this critical endeavor.”

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