Community Agriculture Alliance: Get to know Respect the Rural rules

Todd Hagenbuch
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Over the past few weeks, Routt County residents have opened their tax bills and been surprised to find something other than a bill for what they owe. For the third year in a row, the Routt County Treasurer and Public Trustee’s office has partnered with CSU Extension and other groups to provide educational material that is designed to help Routt County residents think-through what they need to know in order to improve the quality and safety of their living experience here.

Last year CSU Extension partnered with others to educate our landowners about how to best protect their homes and properties from a wildfire. This year we partnered again with the Community Agriculture Alliance to help our neighbors better understand how to be a good neighbor when living and visiting the areas outside of city and town limits. In the event you’re renting a place or visiting, you may be wondering what our Respect the Rural rules are.

They are shared here with the hope that you will take them to heart and share them with others, too:

  • Slow down on county roads, and understand that livestock don’t understand cars and bikes. Yield to animals being moved on the road, and remember that open range laws mean animals may be grazing openly on public roads.
  • Respect the land and those who own it. Don’t trespass on private land, and when visiting public land, leave things as you found it by packing out whatever you pack in.
  • Know that when you’re out on a hike or bike ride, you may not only encounter livestock but the guardian dogs who protect them. Keep out of herds, keep your dog on a leash, and walk bikes around working dogs, giving them a wide berth. 
  • If you’re a new property owner in a rural area, figure out what portion of common ag fencing is yours to fix. Remember that Colorado is a fence-out state, and free range animals may enter your property if you haven’t fenced it out.
  • Know what’s growing on your property. Work to promote native plants and understand your responsibility under Colorado law to control noxious weeds, those non-native plants that disrupt and negatively impact our local ecology. Learn more at and search ‘weed program.’ 
  • When building and living in rural areas, remember the reasons you moved there, which likely included some desire to not be in town…so don’t make it look like town! Keep lights off, and when they are on, make sure they are downcast. 
  • Know water laws and if you have a right to use water that flows through your property by checking with the Division of Water Resources. Keep waterways clean, promote healthy riparian areas with proper grazing techniques, and promote trees growing along streambanks. Find out more at
  • If you’re investing in a place in the country, be mindful of the Home Ignition Zone and use building materials that are fire resistant. Learn more at

Whether you live, work, or just visit rural Routt County, you have a role to play in keeping it the special place it is. Find out more at to look at the “Guide to Rural Living”, and look for the new “Rural Living Guidebook” in print soon.

Todd Hagenbuch, Routt County CSU Extension County Director and Agriculture Agent.

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