January Mountain Memo

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The Importance of Snowpack

We can all agree that despite the extra shoveling we had to put in last month, the epic storm cycle over the holidays was a welcomed addition to our mountains. How excited were you to check the pow cam each day to see how much snow accumulated? Each month, every winter and spring, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Cooperative Snow Survey Program collects data on the snowpack at various locations throughout the western United States. These surveys are used by water experts to forecast water runoff and drought. One survey site is located on Land Trust property, out on the Lower Loop trail system near the Magic Meadow Yurt. Established and maintained since 1936, the data on snowpack that will be collected here over the next few months will help to better implement strategic conservation and water management.

Snowpack, the total snow that accumulates in the winter months, and snow water equivalent (SWE), the amount of water in the snow, serves as a vital reservoir and water resource for people, ecosystems, and economies. As of today, the NRCS Butte Station is reporting a 35” snow depth and 9.6” SWE. The water stored in the snow is currently at 133% of normal in the Gunnison Basin, which is a great trend that we hope will persist as the winter progresses. Continuing to collect and model data on snowpack depth and SWE is important because the water that is released as snowmelt directly impacts soil moisture, streamflow, fisheries, vegetation, agriculture, tourism, municipal water supplies, and wildfires. While we do our snow dances and hope to continue to need our shovels this winter, the Crested Butte Land Trust will also continue leading the Gunnison Valley in land conservation by creating more resilient ecosystems and protecting wildlife habitats and clean waterways for seasons to come.

Follow the links below to learn more about snowpack levels, water supply, drought conditions.

NRCS Snow Survey and Water Supply and links to interactive maps and reports

Land Trust Alliance on Changes in the Mountain Snowpack 

National Integrated Drought Information System

Submit your photos!

The Crested Butte Land Trust seeks photo submissions for the 2023 calendar.

Each year, the Land Trust showcases amazing photos from local photographers in an annual calendar. From social media to grant writing, being able to share high quality photos of open spaces and of our values in scenic vistas, wildlife habitat, recreational access, and ranching heritage helps to better tell our story and promote conservation in the Gunnison Valley.

We appreciate your art and your help in sharing the beauty and uniqueness of our valley. It is thanks to generous photographers that we can utilize impactful visuals to support our mission and capture the special place that we all love.

Submit photos by March 1 or reach out with any questions to Jess at jessica@cblandtrust.org


Thank you from the Crested Butte Land Trust

The Crested Butte Land Trust would like to wish you all a happy new year and extend a huge thank you to our community. Through a global pandemic and continued times of uncertainty, we are so grateful to all of our supporters. Whether you’ve been able to join us on field trips, attend or volunteer for events, donate, or give our posts a “like” or a “share,” we couldn’t have achieved so much this past year without your support in conserving and caring for the open spaces that sustain us all. We look forward to another year of serving you. Thank you!

Partners in Conservation

Here, we highlight fellow organizations and businesses committed to preserving the open spaces that make our home so special.

Please enjoy the link below to read the writing of George Sibley, whose blog Sibley’s Rivers brings a unique perspective to waterways and creatively captures the complex history of the Colorado River. George has been exploring the Gunnison Basin since the 1960’s and his writing has helped define our relationship with water in this vital headwaters region.

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