On a warm August morning, a group of volunteers gathers in the high desert about 20 miles outside of Gunnison, Colorado. Here, surrounded by sagebrush and armed with branches and stones, they are ready to help restore a critical wildlife habitat.
Volunteers are here to work on a wet meadow restoration project. A wet meadow is a riparian area in the arid sagebrush landscape.
“I always joke around that I should’ve majored in basket weaving instead of wildlife management because that’s definitely a skill we’re going to be using today,” said Nathan Seward, a conservation biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Volunteers like Payten Maness weave willow branches into protective barriers. The team will also build with sagebrush and stones collected nearby.