Curecanti National Recreation Area NRCA
Curecanti National Recreation Area (CURE) is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) primarily for recreation on three reservoirs created by a series of dams. The pupose of the dams and reservoirs is both water storage and power generation, and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has authority to regulate water levels for those purposes. NPS has authority to manage recreational use of the lakes, but also to protect the terrestrial and riparian resources adjacent to the reservoirs. Because the park is managed primarily for recreation, activities such as introduction of non-native species (e.g. non-native fish stocking by the Colorado Division of Wildlife) occur here that sometimes conflict with the traditional NPS mission.
The primary issue that resulted from initial scoping was to assess the effect that water management has on natural resources in and around the reservoirs. NCPN and CURE have entered into an agreement with the University of Arizona, USGS Arizona Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, to examine the ecology of the reservoirs relative to species persistence and community ecology. For example bird species that utilize nearshore habitat can be affected when water levels rise or fall and alter habitat quality and food availability.
The specific objectives of the project are to:
- construct species lists for fish, birds, amphibians and aquatic and near-shore vegetation. The species lists will be developed using published literature, visits with local managers at CURE, and personal communications with biologists familiar with local resources;
- identify ecological and life history attributes for each organismal group to evaluate potential effects of lake management and other impacts (invasive species, climate change) on each group and on individual species of concern;
- identify important (i.e. potentially invasive) species that are not currently present but that could be introduced to CURE;
- summarize information on historic changes in lake level and the frequency and intensity of river flows of the Aspinall Unit;
- propose potential scenarios of how changes in reservoir water levels, climate change and invasive species could affect biological communities and ecosystem processes of the groups and species identified.
Principle Investigator: Dr. Norman Mercado-Silva
Co-Investigator: Dr. Scott Bonar
Additional priority issues that will be addressed in the NRCA include:
- integrity of upstream, riparian communities
- invasive plants and aquatic species
- Gunnison Sage-Grouse
- Gunnison Prairie Dog populations and dynamics
Reporting areas for CURE are Upland, Lake, and Lakeshore/Riparian.