Community Agriculture Alliance: Upper #YampaRiver Habitat Partnership Program

The Yampa River flows through the Carpenter Ranch. Photo courtesy of John Fielder from his new book, “Colorado’s Yampa River: Free Flowing & Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green.”

From Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Jack Taylor) via Steamboat Pilot & Today:

Are you familiar with Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Habitat Partnership Program (HPP)? If you are in the livestock/agriculture business or a landowner in Routt County you should be.

CPW’s HPP program works to reduce wildlife conflicts, particularly conflicts associated with forage and fences, and to assist CPW in meeting game management objectives. HPP efforts are primarily aimed at agricultural operators and focus on problems and objectives for deer, elk, pronghorn and moose. HPP is funded by receiving 5% of the deer, elk, pronghorn and moose license revenue from each HPP area. This results in millions of dollars annually that can be spent on projects on both private and public land across Colorado.

The local HPP committee in Routt County is the Upper Yampa River HPP committee. The committee is comprised of several local agricultural producers, local sportsman and agency representatives (CPW, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Serivce). This combination of local knowledge allows for innovative project ideas and novel solutions to problems specific to Routt County.

The Upper Yampa River HPP committee has recently funded several habitat improvement projects, specifically projects that enhanced the amount of water available to both wildlife and livestock on private property. These projects allowed for better grazing practices that will benefit wildlife and livestock into the future.

Other common projects for the Upper Yampa River HPP committee involve assisting landowners with fencing projects. This could be providing materials for a strong welded wire hay stack-yard that can stand up to the snow loads in Routt County or supplying vinyl-coated top wire. The vinyl-coated top wire program helps to reduce the damage that deer and elk can cause to fencing while they are crossing it because the vinyl-coated wire is more visible, which also results in fewer deer and elk fence entanglement issues.

The possibilities do not end there. In addition to fence and forage type projects, the Upper Yampa River HPP committee also assists landowners with funding a portion of the transaction costs for conservation easements.

HPP looks for a 50/50 cost split to approve the project being submitted. This means if you are asking the HPP committee to contribute $2,000 to a habitat improvement project on your property, they would be looking for a contribution from you worth $2,000.

The Upper Yampa River HPP committee also considers any other partners associated with the project, like a neighbor, if the project can span multiple parcels of property.

To submit a project with the Upper Yampa River HPP committee, contact your local district wildlife manager directly or call the CPW Steamboat Springs Service Center at 970-870-2197. Upper Yampa River HPP meetings are typically held once a month. Contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife to learn more.

Jack Taylor is a district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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