A poem for coyote — @HighCountryNews

Coyote Yosemite National Park. Yathin S Krishnappa [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
From The High Country News (Todd Teicheira):

Thank you, Julie Lue. I so appreciated your essay on Coyote (“Overheard in Montana,” HCN, 9/4/17). As we experience this creature, so we discover the spirit of song, and whelping dens that have youth within. The cycle of seasons. Where in the spring? Now have they dispersed.

These are the songs of the rural. Experienced on the edge, but then, not quite. Unless one explores, and finds the places. The spaces of changing patterns. Coyote. The mischievous one.

Todd Teicheira
Bend, Oregon

@CA_DWR: Photos of the first releases from the new #Oroville spillway

A night view as the California Department of Water Resources releases water from the Lake Oroville flood control gates down the newly-constructed main spillway for the first time since May 2017 in Butte County, California.
Main spillway releases will continue to manage lake levels in anticipation of rain and snowmelt. Photo taken April 2, 2019. Photo credit: Ken James / California Department of Water Resources,

Click here to view a gallery of photos from the California Department of Water Resources.

Get outside and interact with nature as part of global competition — @COParksWildlife

From email from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Which city in the world is most engaged in its natural environment? During four days in April, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins residents will be competing against over 170 cities around the world to find out.

From April 26 through 29, Colorado residents are encouraged to go outside to photograph and identify plants and animals, using the free iNaturalist app, as part of a global competition to win the City Nature Challenge!

Colorado counties participating in 2019 include: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Park.

City Nature Challenge 2019 is an international effort to find and document plants and wildlife across the globe. Cities are competing against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people. The City Nature Challenge is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Colorado nonprofits and government agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, the WILD Foundation, MetroDNA, the City and County of Denver, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) all see the value in this effort to connect people to their environment and reap the benefits of crowd-sourced citizen science.

“We have so much amazing nature in and around Denver, that we encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and nearby natural areas to discover incredible wildlife,” said Chris Hawkins, urban conservation program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. “Not only will participants be having fun outside, but they will also be making valuable scientific contributions that will help The Nature Conservancy as we work to create a thriving region for people and nature.”

“I love the City Nature Challenge because it provides an outstanding opportunity for people to appreciate and pay attention to the smaller things in life, like the newly emerged insects, our diverse plant species, and the resident or migratory birds of the area,” said Melanie Hill, Director of Communications & Outreach for the WILD Foundation. “Once you begin noticing these things, whether it be in your backyard, urban areas, or nearby parks and open spaces, you quickly see that everything is connected and that we have a thriving natural world all around us. All you have to do is look and listen.”

Citizen Science and the iNaturalist app
To participate, download the free iNaturalist app, join the project, then get outside and start taking pictures of the nature around you. By participating, you will not only help a Colorado city win the competition, you will also be contributing crucial data about Colorado’s unique biodiversity. Scientists can then use this information to make important decisions about how to protect and improve Colorado’s nature.

The iNaturalist app that people use to identify species in the competition has been part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s efforts to engage citizen scientists over the past few years.

“At its core, it’s a citizen science project that is trying to engage as many people as possible to record the diversity of life wherever they happen to be,” said CPW Forest Management Coordinator Matt Schulz.

In just under four years, the app has documented more than 11,000 observations of nature in Colorado’s 41 state parks. The new technology is helping CPW biologists track the wildlife resources, and in some cases, even contributing toward furthering important research.

“Anyone can participate with this challenge,” Schulz said, “just by observing what is outside their door, whether it’s the tree that lines your street or the bird stopping over to find a bit of food. Anything alive and wild counts, so please help give Colorado a good showing. The information collected is used by land managers and scientists working on a variety of issues, from learning about the type of habitat an animal uses to what time of year certain flowers bloom. Also, iNaturalist allows other users to provide identification of each observation, so even if you don’t know what something is, it can still be valuable to snap a picture and load it up.”

In fact, other users jumping on the app to help identify species will be crucial to winning the contest. From April 30 – May 5, users who identify photos of wildlife down to the species level will count toward the point tally!

CPW has created a set of Denver-specific plant and animal guides in the app so people engaged in the challenge can better identify what they are looking at.

All of the supporting organizations see the City Nature Challenge as a great way to both get people outdoors in friendly competition and as a way to introduce people to a new tool that is both helpful to the casual wildlife viewer and to those who help manage those wildlife resources and habitats.

“Our money’s on Colorado communities taking the lead in the City Nature Challenge this year,” said GOCO Executive Director Chris Castilian. “Coloradans know how amazing our outdoors are – from our backyards to the backcountry, in our cities and towns and beyond. Here’s our chance to explore nature close to home and appreciate what makes our state so wild and beautiful.”

Join a more intense “BioBlitz” at a state park:
You can participate in the City Nature Challenge with others at two “BioBlitzes” in Denver-area state parks! What’s a BioBlitz? It’s a special event where groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours).”

Although CPW does host 24-hour BioBlitzes, the City Nature Challenge BioBlitz is a five-hour version designed to get you outside using the iNaturalist app with others. Come join us!

BioBlitz Dates and Times
​Sat., April 27 from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Barr Lake State Park
Sat., April 27 – TBD – Chatfield State Park​​

Colorado state parks are a great place to be outdoors, as well as a great place to participate in the City Nature Challenge. Colorado State Parks within this year’s boundaries include: Barr Lake, Castlewood Canyon, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Cheyenne Mountain, Eldorado Canyon, Eleven Mile, Golden Gate, Roxborough, Spinney Mountain, and Staunton.

Check CPW’s City Nature Challenge page for updated information on the City Nature Challenge project.

Details
More information on the City Nature Challenge is available at: http://citynaturechallenge.org.

For those interested in the Boulder-Denver Metro Area competition:
https://www.wild.org/naturechallenge/ and
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2019-boulder-denver-metro-area

For those interested in the Colorado Springs Area competition: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2019-colorado-springs

Monte Vista Crane Festival 2019

Greater Sandhill Cranes in flight over the San Luis Valley. The annual Monte Vista Crane Festival takes place during March each year. Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

From Colorado Outdoors Magazine (Crystal Egli):

I’ve known for awhile that a crane’s diet consists of crop waste grain such as corn, wheat, barley, oats, as well as snails, crayfish, insects, small vertebrates and the eggs of other birds, but what I observed over the next hour was completely unexpected. The cranes used their elongated beaks to root around for potatoes, with great enthusiasm. At first I thought they were just slicing them into smaller and smaller pieces in order to eat them – which some of them were, but then I saw one throw back an entire potato and swallow it whole. Then another, and another. I pressed record.

The sandhill cranes were swallowing potatoes whole like a pelican eating a fish! After years of capturing footage of the cranes flying in and out of fields, it was quite interesting and unexpected to witness a behavior I had never before observed in this species.

Lessons Learned
I am so glad I got the courage to ask the landowner for permission to access their land. My trip was shaping up to be pretty fowl but by the end I was happy as a lark. I think next year I’ll time my visit for the heart of the festival when there are guided tours lead by birding professionals, volunteers to ask for advice and help, fellow birders to compare notes with and a craft fair to chill at instead of brooding in my hotel lobby. Honestly, the festival is a hoot. If you’ve never been to one before I highly recommend it– maybe I’ll see you there next year! We’re always looking to add more crane enthusiasts to our flock.

@SenBennet and @SenCoryGardner hope to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund #LWCF

Photos by Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent, and courtesy of Dark Skies Inc of the Wet Mountain Valley.

From The Aspen Times (David O. Williams):

Colorado’s U.S. senators said this week they will both fight hard for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund despite the Trump administration’s plans to gut the program that’s pumped more than $268 million into the state for parks, ball fields, trails and open space.

“Congress finally secures LWCF for future generations, and the administration turns around and tries to cut its funding. This is exactly why Coloradans are so frustrated with Washington,” Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told the Vail Daily on Tuesday via a spokeswoman.

Bennet was referring to the signing last week of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (formerly the Natural Resources Management Act) by President Donald Trump — the day after the White House released a proposed 2020 budget with deep cuts to the LWCF and other public lands programs…

Established by Congress in 1965, the LWCF uses offshore drilling lease fees to develop parks, wildlife refuges and recreational facilities on federal, state and local lands. It also funds additions and upgrades to national parks, forests and other public lands, including projects in western Colorado. Trump’s budget would reportedly slash LWCF funding by 95 percent…

State groups dependent on the funding would love to see an end to the annual budget battle for the program, which is now permanently reauthorized and collecting money from drilling operations.

“I struggle with that; I struggle with the whole (funding) concept, not just LWCF but the Forest Service and BLM budgets as a whole,” said Scott Jones, chairman of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s State Recreational Trails Committee. “When Land and Water Conservation Fund money went away, the non-motorized side of the state trails program almost disappeared. It would have been less than a million bucks a year, and that was going to be a big problem.”

[…]

The ongoing construction of the Continental Divide Trail depends on LWCF money, particularly in areas where there’s no nearby federally owned public land. In those cases, proponents of the trail use LWCF funds to acquire private land for the trail.

In a statement, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition blasted the president’s “drastic cuts to LWCF,” which the coalition argued “undermined White House claims of support for the program.”

Teresa Martinez, executive director of the Golden-based CDTC, celebrated the renewal of the program but said it’s time to “get back to work to fight to ensure strong funding for LWCF.”