My heroes have always been rodeo clowns By Patty Limerick

A rodeo bullfighter at work. By I, Cszmurlo, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2455738

From Writers on the Range (Patty Limerick):

When historians see that their nation is in big trouble, facing the proliferation of protests that raise bedrock questions about American race relations, and locked in disputes over the proper pacing of “re-opening” after the regime of social distancing, it is time for people in my line of work to follow the example set by rodeo clowns and head straight into the epicenter of trouble. We are called to put ourselves at risk—thankfully only of scorned expertise and bruised egos.

Once rodeo clowns see that a rider is in big trouble, tangled in his gear while the animal beneath him is twisting up a storm, the clowns don’t hold themselves back. They head straight into the epicenter of trouble, putting themselves at risk to distract the bull and do everything imaginable to rescue the rider.

To use the terms of our times, in a bull-riding competition the clowns (also known as bullfighters) are hands-down the most essential of workers. No rider with an ounce of sense would agree to come out of the chute on a bull if the clowns weren’t waiting in the arena.

When it comes to responding to the nationwide protests against police brutality and to the tensions between economic recovery and public health, no one in any line of work is escaping the burden of making hard decisions. When all hell breaks loose and disorder rules, rodeo clowns stay self-possessed and focused, setting an example not just for historians, but for elected and appointed officials and, indeed, for all citizens who want the best for their country.

Rodeo clowns would be at terrible risk if they did not carry expertise with them into the arena. They know the turning radius of an angry bull, and they know how to identify the pocket of safety where the bull’s horns cannot reach. And even more important, they know themselves: They know how to make quick calibrations to map the subtle line that separates confidence from over-confidence.

The legendary rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen has summarized this expertise: “to be a rodeo clown takes a lot of . . . patience, knowledge, and timing.”

Even though they have the advantage of a defined goal (“save the rider” is a lot clearer than “save the nation”), rodeo clowns still get tossed around and still hit the ground hard. Here is the most important lesson for historians to acquire from the clowns: Step forward to help your nation, and the next thing you know, you could be landing on the earth without a lot of dignity to cushion the impact.`

And there’s no escaping the fact that rodeo is controversial. Animal rights activists abhor it. From the point of view held the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the bull and the rider should never have been locked into a contest in the first place. But from the angle of the rodeo clown, the rider is in trouble and that train has left the station. There is no time for the clown to visit the PETA website to contemplate a different perspective.

Here is what we know with certainty: No rodeo clown will ever linger on the sidelines thinking, “What a lost cause! Let’s leave this guy to his fate.”

The crucial talent for a clown, one second-generation professional told a reporter for Forbes in 2009, is “adrenaline control,” or “the ability to remain calm in a dangerous situation.” “A lot of times,” Dusty Tuckness said, “the crowd won’t even realize that we prevented a huge wreck.”

For half my life, I have been entranced and enchanted by rodeo clowns, dazzled by their breathtaking willingness and capability to help people who are in trouble. For the whole of my life, I have myself felt compelled to try to be helpful. Yet I am fully aware that compulsive helpers can sometimes make things worse.

Still, I continue to believe that bringing people together to talk, with the chance that they might hear each other, stands a chance of helping. When the nation faces a crisis, working together has to be the better way. Along with thousands of my fellow Westerners, I’m going to keep trying. This isn’t our first rodeo. Not by a long shot.

Patty Limerick. Photo credit Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.

Patricia (Patty) Nelson Limerick is a contributor to Writers on the Range (writersontherange.org), a nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. She is a writer and professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and board chair and faculty director of its Center for the American West.

State takes action against West Elk Mine expansion into protected #Colorado Roadless Area — The Crested Butte News

West Elk Mine. Photo credit Colorado Division of Mining, Minerals and Geology.

From The Crested Butte News:

The Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mine Safety (DRMS) issued a cessation order to Mountain Coal Company, a subsidiary of Missouri-based Arch Coal and operator of the West Elk Mine in the North Fork Valley near Paonia, to prevent further road construction or tree removal within the protected Sunset Colorado Roadless Area (CRA). The 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule, one of two state rules adopted by the U.S. Forest Service in lieu of the 2001 federal roadless rule, limits road-building and other activities within undeveloped roadless areas.

The cessation order was issued following the construction of a new road in the Sunset CRA by Mountain Coal Company earlier this month. Mining activities have been allowed in the Sunset CRA in the past as a result of the “North Fork Exception” to the Colorado Roadless Rule.

However, in March, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Forest Service had not followed procedures required by the National Environmental Protection Act when it reinstated the exception in a 2016 land use plan, and ordered the exception be vacated by the District Court of Colorado. On Monday, the District Court issued an order formally vacating the North Fork Exception.

With the North Fork exception to the Colorado Roadless Rule vacated this week, the company must comply with the provisions of the Colorado Roadless Rule which precludes road building, other construction, and most surface disturbance. As a result, DRMS issued an order for the company to cease road building and other associated activities in the Sunset CRA. DRMS’ order does not prohibit the company from continuing its current operations below the surface at the mine.

#Runoff news: #SanJuanRiver calls going senior

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Chris Mannara):

As of June 10, water from Four Mile Creek has been turned off due to a call on the creek, leading to a drop in collective diversion flows, according to Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Manager Justin Ramsey.

Last year, water from Four Mile was turned off on July 24, according to Ramsey in an interview on Monday.

“The average day that it’s turned off is June 13, the mean is June 15, so we’re not that far off,” he said. “It’s the mean. I’m not overly worried. I would prefer to keep it on. From here on out Hatcher is going to start dropping.”

According to a press release from Ramsey, total diversion flows are now at 4.3 cubic feet per second (cfs) due to the loss of the water from the Four Mile diversion.

Last week, total diversion flows were listed at 5.8 cfs.

This week, the West Fork diver- sion is still contributing 3 cfs and the San Juan diversion is adding another 1.3 cfs.

As of June 15, three local lakes are full, according to Ramsey’s press release. Stevens Lake, Lake Pagosa and Village Lake all remain full, as they were last week…

As of Wednesday, the San Juan River had a reported flow of 221 cfs, well below the average for June 17 of 1,260 cfs.

The highest reported flow total for the San Juan on June 17 came in 1995, when the river had a flow of 4,080 cfs.

The lowest reported flow total came in 2002, when the San Juan River had a flow of 41.4 cfs.

River restoration project underway — The Telluride Daily Planet

Photo via TellurideValleyFloor.org

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Suzanne Cheavens):

Valley Floor tailings to be capped

A river rechanneling and tailings recap project on the west end of the Valley Floor has been put in motion this week after a year’s delay.

Originally green-lighted by Telluride Town Council last year, the project was put on hold when abundant winter snowpack made for what town project manager Lance McDonald called “abnormally high flows in June and July.” But this year, conditions are ideal and the project’s first phase — the creation of an access road off the Spur west of Eider Creek — kicked off Tuesday. The ambitious plan includes capping the tailings on the northwest end of the Valley Floor and rerouting the river where it runs near those tailings.

The tailings pile (the Society Turn Tailings Pile No. 1) spans 23 acres and sits south of the abandoned railroad grade on either side of the river. It is subject to a cleanup agreement between Idarado Mining Company and the State of Colorado that calls for capping and revegetating the contaminated area in place. The Remedial Action Plan allows the landowner — the town — to offer an alternative plan, which the town has done….

“It’s very large, on a landscape scale,” [Lance] McDonald said. “It’s not like building a building. It’s working across an entire landscape.”

Remediating the tailings area has long been in the town’s sights, McDonald said.

“It’s been in the works for 25 years,” he said. “It’s great to see it happening now.”

GOCO awards more than $7.7 million to five special opportunity land #conservation projects across #Colorado

The Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd, a genetically pure, Brucella abortus-free bison herd is released in the City of Fort Collins Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Larimer County Red Mountain Open Space, November 1, 2015, National Bison Day.

Here’s the release from Great Outdoors Colorado:

June 11, 2020
DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded $7,763,775 in grants to five critical land conservation projects in Colorado, permanently conserving 18,411 acres of land across six counties.

These grants are part of GOCO’s Special Opportunity Open Space grant program, which funds high-value conservation projects that seek funding beyond the $1 million maximum request amount set in GOCO’s ongoing Open Space grant program. These projects will help give outdoor recreationists places to play and enjoy scenic views, protect wildlife habitat, safeguard the state’s water supply and watersheds, and sustain local agriculture.

Funded projects will protect more than 15,000 acres of high-priority conservation areas, expand public access and outdoor recreation opportunities, and support regional and statewide collaborative efforts toward landscape-level conservation. The projects will leverage more than $18.8 million in matching funds and more than $7.9 million in landowner donations.

Grant details are as follows:

Coffman Ranch, $2,500,000 grant to Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT)

AVLT, in partnership with Pitkin County and others, will purchase the 141-acre Coffman Ranch, located less than two miles outside of Carbondale. The property features three-quarters of a mile of Roaring Fork River frontage, which will provide Gold Medal waters fishing opportunities. Local ecologists have recognized the ranch as one of the most important properties along the river to be conserved due to the health and biodiversity of its riparian areas and wetlands. The land supports habitat for deer, bald eagle, great blue heron, sandhill cranes, owls, and osprey. Portions of the ranch will remain in agricultural production, while others will be opened to the public for opportunities to access the Roaring Fork River. Looking ahead, AVLT hopes to raise funds needed to build a Conservation Learning Center for community use.

Heart of the Arkansas, $1,625,000 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy (Conservancy), in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT)

TPL, CCALT, and the Conservancy will protect four ranches: Centerville Ranch, Arrowpoint Ranch, Pridemore Ranch, and Tri Lazy W Ranch. The properties boast several miles of stream and riparian corridors along the Upper Arkansas River as well as significant water rights that support agricultural production while contributing to overall watershed health. They also support high quality outdoor recreation experiences for visitors to Browns Canyon National Monument and nearby public lands along the Arkansas River. In conjunction with surrounding private and public lands, the properties create a continuous corridor of open space that serves as a seasonal migration route for big game species. The properties operate as working ranches and will continue to do so after conservation easements are in place. Conservation will ensure that these lands continue to support the local economy and sustain the area’s rich agricultural heritage.

Keystone Phase 1 Conservation Easement, $1,576,300 grant to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Buffalo Horn Ranch spans 23,966 acres surrounded by thousands of acres of conserved private and public properties. This funding will support the first phase of conserving the ranch, permanently protecting 12,684 acres. Conserving the property will protect vital habitat and migration corridors for Colorado’s largest elk herd, the White River elk herd, and for some of the state’s largest herds of mule deer and bighorn sheep. The parcel features 69 miles of intermittent and perennial streams, including Deep Channel Creek, Price Creek, Strawberry Creek, and Twin Wash. Portions of the ranch are also open for restricted hunting access through Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Ranching for Wildlife program and through surrounding lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains 2020 Expansion Project, $812,475 grant to Larimer County

In partnership with the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County will use this grant to conserve four working ranches totaling 2,893 acres in the Laramie Foothills, an important regional conservation area with rich ecological and cultural resources. The four working ranches are located adjacent to Red Mountain Open Space and the 16,000-acre Roberts Ranch conservation easement. These properties and the entire Laramie Foothills region serve as important wildlife migration corridors and offer critical habitat for elk, pronghorn, mountain lion, deer, and black bear. The area is also designated as one of high biodiversity significance by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The properties also boast red rock and bluff features that create a contrasting, rugged landscape, making for exceptionally scenic views.

Tucker Open Space Property, $1,250,000 grant to Boulder County

With the help of GOCO funding, Boulder County will purchase a 322-acre property located one mile west of Nederland and convey a conservation easement to Colorado Open Lands. The property is located within Arapaho National Forest and is surrounded by several other protected lands, including Boulder County Open Space, U.S. Forest Service property, and other private conserved lands. The land provides summer habitat for elk, deer, and moose. The rich forests provide critical habitat for several species of concern, and the riparian areas from Coon Track Creek and North Beaver Creek support a vital wetland ecosystem. Once conserved, the property will be incorporated into the county’s open space system and undergo management planning to accommodate appropriate passive recreation while safeguarding its rich biodiversity and ecological resources.

Sandhill cranes. Photo: Scott Helfrich/Audubon Photography Awards

Another release from Great Outdoors Colorado:

June 11, 2020
DENVER – Today the GOCO board awarded $8.1 million in funding to 19 projects across the state, with grants awarded from the Special Opportunity Open Space (SOOS), Conservation Easement Transaction Costs, and Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF) programs.

The majority of the funding, totaling $7,763,775, was awarded through GOCO’s Special Opportunity Open Space grant program, which funds high-value conservation projects that seek funding beyond the $1 million maximum request amount set in GOCO’s ongoing Open Space grant program. These projects will help give outdoor recreationists places to play and enjoy scenic views, protect wildlife habitat, safeguard the state’s water supply and watersheds, and sustain local agriculture.

Another $215,000 was awarded through GOCO’s Conservation Easement Transaction Costs program, which aims to remove financial barriers associated with transaction costs and expand the amount of land conserved statewide, especially through projects that further efforts toward landscape-scale conservation and conservation on properties along waterways or containing water resources.

The remaining $149,999 was awarded through GOCO’s CPW Director’s Innovation Fund (DIF), a partnership between GOCO and CPW. The program is designed to fund small-dollar, innovative projects across the agency.

In total, GOCO funding will:

  • Fund 19 projects in 13 counties including 3 statewide projects
  • Protect more than 21,000 acres of land
  • Conserve 5,365 acres of land along 4 national scenic byways and more than 3,500 acres along major river corridors
  • Open 5 properties to public access, including hunting, fishing, river access, hiking, biking, and educational opportunities
  • Leverage $19.3 million in local match dollars and more than $11 million in donated land value
    Special Opportunity Open Space Grants
  • Coffman Ranch, $2,500,000 grant to Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT)

    AVLT, in partnership with Pitkin County and others, will purchase the 141-acre Coffman Ranch, located less than two miles outside of Carbondale. The property features three-quarters of a mile of Roaring Fork River frontage, which will provide Gold Medal waters fishing opportunities. Local ecologists have recognized the ranch as one of the most important properties along the river to be conserved due to the health and biodiversity of its riparian areas and wetlands. The land supports habitat for deer, bald eagle, great blue heron, sandhill cranes, owls, and osprey. Portions of the ranch will remain in agricultural production, while others will be opened to the public for opportunities to access the Roaring Fork River. Looking ahead, AVLT hopes to raise funds needed to build a Conservation Learning Center for community use.

    Heart of the Arkansas, $1,625,000 grant to Central Colorado Conservancy (Conservancy), in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT)

    TPL, CCALT, and the Conservancy will protect four ranches: Centerville Ranch, Arrowpoint Ranch, Pridemore Ranch, and Tri Lazy W Ranch. The properties boast several miles of stream and riparian corridors along the Upper Arkansas River as well as significant water rights that support agricultural production while contributing to overall watershed health. They also support high quality outdoor recreation experiences for visitors to Browns Canyon National Monument and nearby public lands along the Arkansas River. In conjunction with surrounding private and public lands, the properties create a continuous corridor of open space that serves as a seasonal migration route for big game species. The properties operate as working ranches and will continue to do so after conservation easements are in place. Conservation will ensure that these lands continue to support the local economy and sustain the area’s rich agricultural heritage.

    Keystone Phase 1 Conservation Easement, $1,576,300 grant to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

    Buffalo Horn Ranch spans 23,966 acres surrounded by thousands of acres of conserved private and public properties. This funding will support the first phase of conserving the ranch, permanently protecting 12,684 acres. Conserving the property will protect vital habitat and migration corridors for Colorado’s largest elk herd, the White River elk herd, and for some of the state’s largest herds of mule deer and bighorn sheep. The parcel features 69 miles of intermittent and perennial streams, including Deep Channel Creek, Price Creek, Strawberry Creek, and Twin Wash. Portions of the ranch are also open for restricted hunting access through Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Ranching for Wildlife program and through surrounding lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

    Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains 2020 Expansion Project, $812,475 grant to Larimer County

    In partnership with the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County will use this grant to conserve four working ranches totaling 2,893 acres in the Laramie Foothills, an important regional conservation area with rich ecological and cultural resources. The four working ranches are located adjacent to Red Mountain Open Space and the 16,000-acre Roberts Ranch conservation easement. These properties and the entire Laramie Foothills region serve as important wildlife migration corridors and offer critical habitat for elk, pronghorn, mountain lion, deer, and black bear. The area is also designated as one of high biodiversity significance by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The properties also boast red rock and bluff features that create a contrasting, rugged landscape, making for exceptionally scenic views.

    Tucker Open Space Property, $1,250,000 grant to Boulder County

    With the help of GOCO funding, Boulder County will purchase a 322-acre property located one mile west of Nederland and convey a conservation easement to Colorado Open Lands. The property is located within Arapaho National Forest and is surrounded by several other protected lands, including Boulder County Open Space, U.S. Forest Service property, and other private conserved lands. The land provides summer habitat for elk, deer, and moose. The rich forests provide critical habitat for several species of concern, and the riparian areas from Coon Track Creek and North Beaver Creek support a vital wetland ecosystem. Once conserved, the property will be incorporated into the county’s open space system and undergo management planning to accommodate appropriate passive recreation while safeguarding its rich biodiversity and ecological resources.

    Conservation Easement Transaction Costs Grants

    Borrego Ranch Conservation Easement, $50,000 grant to Palmer Land Trust

    Palmer Land Trust will conserve the 637-acre Borrego Ranch, a working cattle operation located in the Upper Arkansas River basin in Fremont County. The ranch’s mixed conifer forests provide nesting, migratory, and habitat range for a variety of wildlife species including the ruby-crowned kinglet, black bear, elk, and mule deer. Irrigated hay meadows, diverse woodlands, and nearly 30 acres of lush wetlands add to the incredible ecosystem diversity on the property. The property lies along the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway, an area valued for its rich agricultural heritage and scenic values.

    Meek Ranch, $50,000 grant to Colorado West Land Trust (CWLT)

    CWLT will conserve a 1,208-acre property located adjacent to Gunnison National Forest. The property is a working hay and cattle ranch that includes 500 acres of irrigated ground and willows, cottonwoods, and oakbrush. Crystal Creek and Cottonwood Creek flow for more than two miles through the ranch, creating ponds and wetland habitat for various species of wildlife, including deer, elk, bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, and sandhill cranes. Travelers on the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway along Highway 92 pass by the property and enjoy stunning vistas of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, the West Elk Mountains, and other conserved lands in the area.

    Protecting Monte Vista Working Wetlands, $65,000 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT)

    RiGHT, in partnership with Colorado Open Lands, will acquire conservation easements on more than 1,000 acres of exceptional wetland and foraging habitat. The conserved lands are part of a landscape-scale effort to protect local watershed health, migratory bird and big game habitat, and working agricultural lands. The project builds on a decade of conservation work and adds to more than 3,000 acres of conserved lands along the Rio Grande River. It will also protect senior water rights that support significant wetland habitat for elk, the yellow-billed cuckoo, southwestern willow flycatcher, and the greater sandhill crane, the San Luis Valley’s most iconic bird.

    Putt Creek Conservation Easement, $50,000 grant to Colorado Open Lands (COL)

    With this funding, COL will help conserve the 4,691-acre Putt Creek parcel in northwestern Colorado. The parcel, which is part of the larger Battle Mountain Ranch, lies in the rolling plains of the Little Snake River Valley, an area characterized by wetlands, grasslands, and mixed brush. The property is also home to one of the largest greater sage-grouse “leks,” or mating grounds, and is an important winter habitat for the Bears Ears elk herd, the second largest migratory elk herd in the world. Home to the largest mule deer and pronghorn herd units in the state, Putt Creek is also a part of CPW’s Ranching for Wildlife program.

    Director’s Innovation Fund Grants

    Aerial Estimation Software for Wildlife Population Estimates, $3,554 grant to CPW

    CPW will purchase software that creates maps and 3D spatial data from aerial photographs taken from the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) drones. The UAS initiative was supported with previous DIF funds and has helped with wildlife management and data analysis. As the program has developed, so has the desire for more efficient and innovative aerial data collection. This software will allow CPW to use UAS systems to capture orthomosaic images, which are aerial photographs that are corrected to a uniform scale, providing the same lack of distortion as a map. These photos will help the agency better meet the goals of the UAS initiative.

    Bear Translocation Collars, $9,000 grant to CPW Area 8

    The Glenwood Springs CPW office and Area 8 will use this DIF grant to purchase bear tracking collars as part of an ongoing effort to minimize human-bear conflicts in the Glenwood Springs region. In 2019, CPW began using a wildlife management application to track and record all bear incidents and analyze the data. Since that time, staff recorded 1,255 conflicts in the area, more than 20% of all bear incidents reported statewide. In partnership with city efforts to minimize these conflicts, CPW will purchase 10 Globalstar satellite communication collars to track the movement of select relocated bears. These findings will help determine a long-term solution for bear management in the area.

    Bosque del Oso Solar Water Wells, $25,000 grant to CPW

    Bosque del Oso currently has 11 solar water wells, but only three are in operation. The functioning wells are miles apart, and the two forks of the Purgatoire River that run through the property are on opposite ends. In addition, the lake and streams are typically dry by June each year, limiting water resources for wildlife and their habitat. This funding will help CPW make improvements to four of the non-functional wells to ensure they operate properly. This will directly benefit all wildlife by creating proper access to water and will help distribute wildlife more equally across the property, enhancing hunting and viewing experiences.

    CPW Podcast, $5,500 grant to CPW

    This funding will help CPW start the Colorado Outdoors podcast, an effort by the agency to tell its story and the story of the state’s outdoor spaces through an accessible platform. The program will share the work happening across CPW, including topics related to parks, wildlife, trails, outdoor recreation, safety, natural resources, biology, and more. It will also be used as a communication tool to share information on pressing topics, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

    Mueller State Park Backcountry Toilet, $18,570 grant to Mueller State Park

    Mueller State Park will soon feature two clusters of backcountry campsites designed for backpackers, skiers, snowshoers, and equestrians. This funding will support the purchase of a composting toilet for one of the sites. Backcountry campgrounds do not typically feature such amenities, resulting in the need to bury human waste, a Leave No Trace principle that is not always followed. These will be the first backcountry campsites in the Southeast Region, and this project has the potential to be implemented at other parks throughout the system.

    Navajo State Park Decontamination Station, $8,830 grant to Navajo State Park

    This funding will support the installation of an on-demand watercraft decontamination system for invasive species. Traditionally, boats are decontaminated using hot water pressure washers, which are noisy, require frequent re-fueling, and are expensive to maintain and operate. On-demand decontamination systems use propane-fueled water heaters, which are more effective in removing invasive species by keeping the water at a consistent temperature. Navajo Reservoir is one of the highest-risk bodies of water in the state for potential introduction of invasive animals and plants. Effectively killing and removing these species from watercraft prior to launch is important to avoid long-lasting ecological damage.

    Rabbit Mountain Hunting Program, $23,478 grant to CPW

    This funding will support a term hunt coordinator position under Boulder County Parks and Open Space, which facilitates the Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain Elk and Vegetation Management Plan and the newly approved Red Hill Elk Management Plan, which provide elk hunting opportunities to more than 100 hunters annually. The hunt coordinator has helped implement the program at Rabbit Mountain and will be essential in developing the program at Red Hill. The coordinator manages the hunt schedules, ensures the properties are safe and accessible, communicates with hunters and nearby landowners, assists with public relations, develops orientation programs, and compiles reports at the end of hunting season.

    Rifle Gap State Park Hammock Camping, $24,458 grant to Rifle Gap State Park

    Rifle Gap State Park will use its DIF grant to transform five campsites at the park’s Pinion Campground into hammock camping sites and to purchase 16 Eagle’s Nest Outfitters hammocks to loan to future campers. Hammock camping has increased in popularity in recent years, but due to previous damage to natural resources, CPW has taken a careful approach to adopting the trend at state park campgrounds. The existing five campsites will be upgraded with raised camp pads and rounded timber in three corners, allowing guests to use tents or hammocks with no impact on surrounding vegetation.

    River Watch Sondes, $10,359 grant to CPW

    This funding will help CPW purchase sondes, or real-time water quality meters, for the agency’s River Watch program. The program is a collaboration between CPW and Uviation World Water River Science, a nonprofit whose mission is to use technology and education to achieve water conservation impacts and create innovative programs for participation. Since 1989, River Watch has operated as a statewide, citizen-volunteer water quality program that has trained more than 3,000 people and monitored 59,000 river miles. Currently, volunteers are only able to collect data on a monthly or semi-annual basis, and the new sensors will provide consistent data for analysis.

    Steamboat Springs Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Trash Can Partnership, $21,250 grant to CPW Area 10

    The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) works to develop and test trash cans that are able to withstand wear and tear from bears. These cans are the standard residential trash receptacle for many mountain communities in Colorado, and Steamboat Springs recently mandated that all residents and businesses use IGBC-certified containers. For some, the costs associated with the new program are prohibitive, and this funding will be used to purchase trash cans for those who need assistance. This initiative aims to significantly reduce these conflicts and ensure that Steamboat’s wildlife stays wild.

    Southwestern Willow flycatcher

    From The Craig Daily Press (Joshua Carney):

    The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded two grants totaling $1,626,300 for two projects in Moffat County June 11, giving the norwestern Colorado community a big financial boost.

    The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) received a $1,576,300 grant to conserve 12,684 acres of Buffalo Horn Ranch, located northwest of Meeker in Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties. Additionally, Colorado Open Lands (COL) received a $50,000 transaction costs grant to conserve 4,961 acres of Battle Mountain Ranch in northeast Moffat County.

    The first grant is part of GOCO’s Special Opportunity Open Space grant program, which funds high-value conservation projects that seek funding beyond the $1 million maximum request amount set in GOCO’s ongoing Open Space grant program.

    The projects will help give outdoor recreationists places to play and enjoy scenic views, protect wildlife habitat, safeguard the state’s water supply and watersheds, and sustain local agriculture.

    Buffalo Horn Ranch spans 23,966 acres surrounded by thousands of acres of conserved private and public properties. The funding will support the first phase of conserving the property, permanently protecting 12,684 acres, according to a press release from GOCO. After the first phase is completed, RMEF expects to begin a second phase, which will conserve remaining acreage and protect the property in its entirety…

    The Putt Creek parcel, which is part of the larger Battle Mountain Ranch, lies in the rolling plains of the Little Snake River Valley, an area characterized by wetlands, grasslands, and mixed brush. The property is also home to one of the largest greater sage-grouse “leks,” or mating grounds, and is an important winter habitat for the Bears Ears elk herd, the second largest migratory elk herd in the world.

    “By conserving Putt Creek, we protect the Fan Rock greater sage-grouse lek, which is among the largest in the state,” said CPW wildlife biologist Brian Holmes. “Protecting mating grounds and habitat is critical to the future success of this species that has declined steeply and steadily in population over the last 100 years.”

    The property supports Battle Mountain Ranch’s multi-generational cattle grazing operation. Home to the largest mule deer and pronghorn herd units in the state, Putt Creek is also a part of CPW’s Ranching for Wildlife program.

    Conserving Putt Creek is part of a larger, landscape-scale effort that will help protect the area from further development and wildlife habitat fragmentation.

    Pictured here is Buffalo Horn Ranch, which was awarded $1.5 million in GOCO grants on June 11, 2020. Courtesy Photo / GOCO via the Craig Daily Press