Conserving connections

  Science, government and corporations don't often find common ground - except when they're trying to save some. United by a mission to protect and connect wild spaces, the Chatfield Basin Conservation Network, southwest of Denver, has successfully brought together businesspeople, county officials, road builders and environmentalists.


"The purpose of the network is to strengthen the conservation voice by banding together," says Toby Sprunk, open-space specialist for Douglas County, Colo. Since 1998, the network has grown from 30 members to more than 75 and has received several grants, including a Legacy Grant of $1.15 million from Great Outdoors Colorado.


The network has funded a variety of projects, including trailhead enhancement and a study looking at how wildlife movement is hemmed in by highways. Paul Hellmund, part-time coordinator for the network, says U.S. Highway 85 could eventually be expanded from two lanes to six in some places. Unless the network finds ways for wildlife to cross those lanes, such as underpasses, roadkill rates will skyrocket, he warns. "We want to keep the road as permeable for wildlife as possible," Hellmund says. "It's a new kind of thing for builders to think about."


For more information, visit the network's Web site at www.douglas.co.us/DC/Manager/chatfield.htm.