The South Platte River Watershed provides extensive value, approximately $7.4 billion per year in ecosystem services, to the economy and people of the watershed.
— Angela Fletcher, Project Director | Earth Economics

South Platte Watershed
Natural Capital Resource Assessment

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Project Areas of the South Platte Natural Capital Resource Assessment
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The South Platte Watershed encompasses 3.8 million acres from the mountains to the Denver Metro area and into the plains. In 2011, over 50 public and private stakeholders, under the leadership of US Forest Service and US EPA formed the South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership. The partnership area boundary includes the majority of the South Platte River Watershed. The primary goal of the partnership is to engage stakeholders in protecting and restoring lands and waters in the South Platte River watershed. In order to attain these progressive goals, and manage a highly diverse set of natural resources and interests, the Colorado State Forest Service secured funding from the US Forest Service and began building the South Platte Natural Capital Resource Assessment – From Mountains to Plains (South Platte Natural Capital Assessment). 

The South Platte Natural Capital Assessment is a collaborative natural capital (also called green infrastructure) assessment undertaken by a diverse project team. Over the course of 20 months, this team: catalogued existing data sources, identified the most important natural assets in the watershed and then mapped the natural capital and valued the ecosystem services produced throughout the watershed. Finally, a decision-support tool was produced to assist stakeholders with prioritizing future investments in the watershed, whether for preservation or conservation. The South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership will use the resource assessment and decision support tool to prioritize future investments in either conservation or restoration throughout the watershed based on the natural capital of the region and the value of the ecosystem services that natural capital provides. 

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This resource assessment is a collaborative stakeholder driven assessment of the natural capital of Colorado’s South Platte River Watershed. The resulting resource and tools will guide future investments (conservation and/or restoration activities) undertaken by the South Platte River Urban Waters Partnership.