Community Agriculture Alliance: Respect rural Routt County |

Community Agriculture Alliance: Respect rural Routt County

Michele Meyer
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Why did the cow cross the road? Oh, so many silly jokes to make, but living — or visiting — a rural community, it is a valid question. What should you do when cows are on the road or trail?

With more and more people getting out into the surrounding forests and accessing public lands, it’s important to remember that we all need to take care of our community. Community Agriculture Alliance and CSU Routt County Extension put together an infographic as a reminder on some key points. 

A little education, some common sense and a lot of patience go a long way to avoiding frustration and unsafe situations.  We can all respect and help care for our rural community. 

In Colorado, landowners have the inherent right to fence their land or leave it unfenced. In the early 1880s, the Colorado legislature passed a fencing statute. This statute is commonly referred to as the “open range” or “fence-out” statute.  

Open range does not mean one can simply allow their livestock to run at large without penalty. Most livestock owners do not intend for their livestock to stray and will respond quickly to recover them. If you find livestock running loose, try to notify the owner immediately.  

Courtesy photo

The necessity to have a fence to protect your property in rural areas is no different than in urban areas. In urban areas, you need to have a fence if you do not want the neighbor’s dogs or kids in your yard, pool, etc. The same rule is applicable in rural or country settings. The difference is the critters trespassing and the volume of space requiring a fence.

Protecting yourself is the main idea, and remember “good fences make good neighbors.” For more information, visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.

Gates are another important rural issue to understand. All too often, people with good intentions close livestock gates when they find them open. It is important to leave gates as you find them. If a rancher leaves a gate open, most likely, it is for a good reason. Commonly, animals are being moved to allow them access to another pasture or water source. 

Respecting private property should be common sense, but the open spaces in our rural community create a false sense of “no one will mind.” While landowners may not be in sight, it is never OK to trespass. Be respectful of all private property, whether you are on the river, a trail or a road.

Follow the “Code of the West” — respect, integrity and stewardship.  Whether you live in Routt County year-round, are a part-time homeowner or visiting for the day or more, help take care of our community. The working landscapes and scenic open spaces in rural Routt County are not “free.” We all need to care for them today and into the future.  

Lastly, back to the initial question. Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the udder side.

Michele Meyer is executive director of Community Agriculture Alliance

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