By Published On: December 4, 2020

The Fragile Flyway: New Video from Water 4

Communities of people, waterbirds, and wildlife in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and central New Mexico are linked by the life-giving waters of the Rio Grande. Wetlands along the Rio Grande and throughout the Intermountain West are increasingly scarce, with only 2 percent of this historical range remaining. These habitats are typically associated with irrigated agriculture and occur on working ranches and farms.

A new video from the Intermountain West Joint Venture, “The Fragile Flyway: Conserving the Rio Grande Corridor,” explores the significance of the green ribbon of wetland habitat and irrigated agricultural lands to migratory birds and people in the corridor of this important river.

The Rio Grande is a key piece of a continent-spanning migratory network for birds, providing vital habitat up and down the river corridor throughout Colorado and New Mexico. Wetland and riparian habitats, including flood-irrigated hay meadows, are among the most important natural resources in the Intermountain West for both their ecological and socio-economic values. Although most land in the West is publicly owned, the majority of the region’s wetlands occur on private land. This creates unique opportunities for public land managers and private landowners to work together and drive innovative, collaborative solutions. The connectivity of farmlands to publicly-managed wetlands in the Rio Grande corridor is critical, more so now than ever.

The loss of wetlands and irrigated agriculture is happening at unprecedented scales and existing systems lack the capacity to adequately address them. The following elements are crucial to our ability to conserve wetlands and agriculture for future generations: 

  1. Capacity to access funds and implement conservation at an accelerated pace.
  2. Science integrated into decision support tools to guide strategic conservation investments.
  3. Communication to elevate the message of working wet meadows and cross-boundary and multi-species efforts.
  4. Partnership development to advance sophisticated relationships for synergies in conservation.

For more information about how Water 4 strives to meet these goals, visit our Water 4 page.