January 2016 Audubon Rockies Newsletter
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January 2016 Newsletter

Working to protect birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.
Cedar Waxwing enjoying berries, photo by Nic Korte
 2015 Was a HUGE Success!

Thanks to our generous donors, foundations, corporate sponsors and community partners, 2015 was a very successful year for our fundraising efforts!  Without you we wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that we do.  Our programs and mission, as well as our future growth and regional reach, rely heavily on your continued financial support.  Audubon Rockies takes great pride in our work in Colorado and Wyoming and with your generous help we were able to:

  • Educate more than 12,000 children and adults on the importance of protecting birds and their habitat.

  • Train more than 620 adult community members as naturalists and science teachers.

  • Present over 300 education programs in the region.

  • Reach 4,000 students and 20,000 community members thorough our classroom activities, workshops, bird banding, our annual BioBlitz and many other events.

  • Protect 15 million acres of sagebrush steppe in Wyoming, with an additional 60 million protected acres forecast across 10 additional states by partnering with industry, government, ranchers, conservationists, and state and federal agencies.

  • Work closely with U.S. Bureau of Land Management in developing its “National Greater Sage-grouse Planning Strategy”, a proactive, region-wide effort to protect this iconic bird.

  • Engage more than 20,000 members and 250 network leaders of our Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN) in Colorado and Wyoming to advocate for the Colorado River.

  • Submit 760 technical comments while representing over 7,600 Colorado Audubon Chapter members and partner organizations to help shape the Colorado Water Plan.

  • Recognize 65 Habitat Hero winners for their “wildscaping” efforts providing critical habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife.

  • Convert more than 200 acres of habitat to native plants as part of our Habitat Hero Program.


Thank you for your continuing support of Audubon Rockies.  Working together, we are building a lasting legacy for birds, nature and people.  Let’s make 2016 even better!  Happy New Year!

 Bird Bits

Rare bird discovered at Gardens on Spring Creek during Christmas Bird Count


A Lazuli Bunting, a beautiful songbird commonly residing in the southwest and Mexico in winter, was sighted and photographed by David Leatherman at the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, on December 19, 2015.

Read Full Article HERE



Cornell Lab eNews

Learn about
How to lend a helping hand to birds | Milkweed seeds for habitat needs | Educator Resources | and more!


A Field Guide to the Birds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

See what birds have been ID'ed in this movie people can't stop talking about!
Read Article HERE

Support Audubon Rockies


The Roost - Chapter News

Chapter Websites & Newsletters

Colorado Chapters:
Wyoming Chapters:
Each Chapter is an independent organization of Audubon members that is chartered and annually re-certified by National Audubon Society. 

They provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities for members at the local level. They also often advocate on behalf of conservation at the local, state, and national level.

National News


Happy birding from all of us!


Alison Holloran, Executive Director
John Kloster-Prew, Development Director
Daly Edmunds, Regional Policy Coordinator
Dusty Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Jacelyn Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Becky Gillette, Senior Educator
Abby Burk, WRAN Coordinator
Jamie Weiss, Habitat Heroes Coordinator
Zach Hutchinson, Community Naturalist
Sandy McIntyre, Office Assistant

Support Audubon Rockies

Upcoming Events


Wild Diversity With Living Landscapes
January 23, 9-1pm at Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, CO


Be a Habitat Hero: Support Wildlife by Creating Living Landscapes. Learn how to create living landscapes from Doug Tallamy, renowned author and professor at University of Delaware.  Two local experts, Jim Tolstrup of High Plains Environmental Center and Dave Leatherman, retired Colorado State Forest Service Entomologist, join Tallamy to elaborate on how we can create habitat gardens and sustainable biodiversity in Colorado with the use of native and regionally adapted plants.                          

For more details, cost and registration - click


Great Backyard Bird Count
February 12-15, Everywhere!
For more information on how to participate - click HERE


Gardening for Beauty & Birds
March 5, 9-12 at Boulder County Parks & Open Space, Longmont, CO

These presentations will explore the design possibilities of making beautiful and functional gardens that are not only the envy of the neighborhood but also provide important habitat for wildlife                      

For more details, cost and registration - click HERE


Cheyenne Habitat Hero Workshop
Save the Date: April 9, Laramie County Community 
Details coming soon!              

Colorado WRAN Audubon Yampa River Trip!
Save the Date: June 27, 2016

Colorado WRAN’s First Audubon River Trip on the Yampa River with OARS! Watch for a standalone email announcing this AWESOME and limited space opportunity!!

Sandhill Crane Photography Workshop
March 6-11, Mosca Colorado

Join renowned conservation photographers Michael ForsbergDave Showalter, and naturalist John Rawinski, for a spectacular photography workshop and document the spring migration of the Sandhill Cranes. In addition to capturing cranes, time will be spent on the ranch photographing bison, historic ranch structures and the ranching way of life.

For more details, cost and registration - click HERE

Western Rivers Action Network

Photo by Abby Burk.

A Heartfelt Thank You & Best Wishes!

Thank you for an outstanding year of support and activism for our Western rivers.  Your engagement created real benefits for our rivers and the birds and wildlife they support. Wishing you HAPPY EVERYTHING! Onward to a successful 2016! 

Winter Webinars 

The final Colorado Water Plan, released November 2015, is an important step forward for Colorado on future water management. The plan reflects many Coloradans' values and water priorities.  The plan shows important progress by: setting water conservation goals, proposing funding for healthy rivers, and makes a large new trans-mountain diversion less likely. But, what does the plan say about funding, storage, permitting, or criteria for state water project support?
  • History of Water Development in the West. Wednesday January 20th noon – 1PM MT. Presented by Ken Neubecker. Registration and details to come soon! 



Join WRAN Now

Community Naturalist Program

2015, A Banner Year for the Community Naturalist Program


Community Naturalist staff delivered educational programs for more than 4,000 students across Wyoming and Colorado, engaged 10 new classroom teachers and their students, and trained nearly 90 teachers and 20 volunteers to lead conservation education programs.  We broadened the outreach of our traveling trunk program, including new partnerships in Gunnison, CO and elsewhere that helped us reach more students and teachers.  All told, the Community Naturalist Program had contact with nearly 17,000 students, teachers, and community members across three states in 2015!

Our work did not stop there. We hosted workshops for 35 landowners, and spoke at five different conferences on topics ranging from the importance of STEM (Science, EngineeringTechnology and Math) education to the best ways to connect with our ranching communities.  We surveyed breeding birds in the Gunnison Basin, providing valuable data to partners working to restore alpine wet meadows and riparian areas – critical habitat for the threatened Gunnison Sage-grouse.  Our annual BioBlitz, MAPS bird banding project, and Christmas Bird Counts across the region gave the public multiple opportunities to participate in hands-on citizen science, and helped us connect with the people of Wyoming and Colorado in ways that are both educational and fun.

On top of all that, Audubon Rockies is a key partner in developing an Environmental Education Certification for Wyoming, and we are celebrating the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December.  This bill contains some important language for Environmental Education, making EE explicitly eligible for funding, and acknowledging its importance as a learning tool.  We hope this means that EE will finally get the recognition it deserves.
In 2016, we are looking forward to continuing our current outreach and programs, as well as initiating some additional new and exciting projects.  We will continue to focus on delivering classroom programs and field trips for K-12 students, and we have four teacher trainings scheduled for 2016.  We are evaluating our Sagebrush Ecosystem curriculum with the help of partners at Cornell University and curriculum experts from around the nation.  Our new and improved traveling trunks will head to Wyoming, Colorado and even Oregon for use by classroom teachers, helping students understand the importance of the Sagebrush Ecosystem and the basics of bird identification.  And, we plan to continue the partnerships that allow us to have an impact not only at the classroom level, but also the state and regional level.

This year’s BioBlitz will be held in Cheyenne, WY, and we will once again be opening our mist nets in Casper, WY for MAPS bird banding.  Our team created a Birding Wyoming Trail map, and we will be working on developing a corresponding smartphone app.  We will continue to partner with landowners on our Prairie Bird Initiative to conserve additional habitat in the Great Plains.  Lastly, we will be doing a bit of re-branding, designed to make the Community Naturalist Program more identifiable to a broader audience, and to unite our efforts across Colorado and Wyoming.

Thank you to everyone who supported our work in 2015.  We are looking forward to an exciting and productive New Year!
The education team:  Dusty Downey, Jacelyn Downey, Becky Gillette, Zach Hutchinson

Habitat Hero Program

Photo by Gardens on Spring Creek


2015: A Gardening Success, Thanks to You!


We are extremely grateful for the growth of our Habitat Hero program and thank you for helping us to make 2015 a great year! We reached 3,300 adults and children across 14 cities in 12 counties and recognized 65 Habitat Hero gardens, which converted more than 200 acres of habitat to native plants that support birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators!

Our successes are possible thanks to our partners, supporters, Audubon Chapters and of course, individuals like you that make a difference in stitching back the landscape mosaic across Colorado and Wyoming with beautiful wildscapes, benefiting people, birds and wildlife.  To that effect, we’d like to acknowledge and thank some of the great organizations that have helped our Habitat Hero program grow in 2015: High Country Gardens, Plant Select, Urban Farm Company, Greet Roots Garden Design, City of Fort Collins, BATH Garden Center & Nursery, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Happy Heart Farms, Denver Botanic Gardens, High Plains Environmental Center, and the Gardens on Spring Creek

To give you some inspiration to incorporate wildscaping principles and design ideas into your own garden, we have lined up some Habitat Hero workshops in 2016, and hope to see you there!


Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative

Photo by Dave Showalter/Sage Spirit

Political Shenanigans in Congress Curtailed - Funding for Grouse Secured


Every year, Congress must pass bills that appropriate money for all discretionary government spending and to avoid a government shut-down; an omnibus spending bill combines one or more of those bills into a single bill.  Politicians tried to include in this year’s omnibus spending bill, as with last year’s, included harmful sage-grouse riders (Note: A “rider” is an additional provision added to a bill or other measure under consideration by a legislature, having little connection with the subject matter of the bill. Riders are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision that would not pass as its own bill). We saw sage-grouse rider attempts in December 2014 and then again in December 2015.

Audubon Chapters - Strong Grassroots Voice:
In the weeks leading up to the finalization of the omnibus funding bill in mid-December, 38 Audubon Chapters from 8 western states joined other conservationists, ranchers, veterans and farmers in a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders.  The letter urged political leaders to reject riders that would block federal funding necessary to implement federal plans (Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service) that strive to improve management of sage grouse habitat.  Read letter HERE.
Thankfully, our voices were heard!  Media picked-up this story and political champions remained strong (
The Hill, Politico Pro).  In the end, the approved omnibus bill was favorable for grouse - providing full funding for the Department of Interior’s efforts to implement the federal management plans. The $1.15 trillion federal funding package for fiscal year 2016 contains $12 billion for the Interior Department, including substantial boosts to its three main land management agencies.  BLM specifically received $60 million for its work to conserve sage-grouse habitat in the West, including through activities like the removal of juniper trees, eradication of invasive weeds and prescribed burns. That's roughly a four-fold increase over current funding levels for grouse!

What does this mean western states?
It means that Western states, economies and public land won in terms of ensuring better management of public land. It means that the tools necessary for landowners, biologists and conservationists who are working desperately to ensure a brighter future for sage-grouse are going to be available and it means that Congress has not undermined the conservation plans that provided the basis of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services September 2015 decision that it wasn't necessary to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act.  Westerners spoke loudly about the attempts to undermine common sense, collaborative conservation. Due to their advocacy, Department of Interior’s work on the plans are fully funded under the bill language released today.  Americans in the West made their voices heard - and it mattered.
Audubon remains committed to working with stakeholders, the states, and the federal agencies to make sure implementation of conservation plans are done in such a manner that populations of sage-grouse are stabilized.

This month we would like to acknowledge a valued sponsor and partner


Through science, education, advocacy, and on-the-ground conservation, we protect birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado. Where birds thrive, people prosper.

Copyright © 2016 Audubon Rockies, All rights reserved.

Main Phone: (970) 416-6931

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