Canadian bank funds Colorado River restoration project

$10,000 donation will help restore native vegetation

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Photo courtesy BLM.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A $10,000 donation from the Royal Bank of Canada will help fund a week-long restoration project along the Colorado River near Grand Junction, in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

The Western Colorado Conservation Corps will partner with the Bureau of Land Management to remove invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Colorado River. The introduced trees suck up water needed by native flora and fauna.

The funding is the result of a partnership between the Royal Bank of Canada and the Conservation Lands Foundation. The bank is is one of Canada’s largest corporate donors.

“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.”

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is part of the National Conservation Lands. The National Conservation Lands are a 28-million-acre system of protected lands in the west known for their culturally, ecologically and scientifically significant landscapes managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The volunteers 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 gift is part of RBC’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 more than $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 McInnis Canyons project will also be the first example of a new veterans-Youth Conservation Corps partnership initiated by the Conservation Lands Foundation last the fall. The goal is to enhance water quality, wildlife habitat and create jobs on National Conservation Lands. The partnership is a unique collaboration of private funders, youth conservation corps, veterans and community volunteers.

“The Royal Bank of Canada’s donation allows Colorado youth corps to provide a lifeline to one of the American West’s most precious resources: the Colorado River,” said Jennifer Freeman, executive director of the Colorado Youth Corps Association, a coalition of accredited, statewide youth conservation corps.

“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 State Director. “We truly appreciate the collaboration between the Conservation Lands Foundation, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Colorado Youth Corps Association as their efforts expand our capabilities while creating employment opportunities for youth.”


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