Community Agriculture Alliance: The Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program

Kyle Bond
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Colorado is currently experiencing a population boom with 5.8 million residents as of the 2020 census, and that means more development, more need for valuable resources, more people expanding into wild lands and lost habitat for our state’s wildlife.

One of the main challenges of modern wildlife management is dealing with habitat loss; however, where there are challenges, opportunities exist. The Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program is a statewide program that supports Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s mission in part to perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state by offering opportunities to landowners to voluntarily participate in landscape-scale conservation. Whether that means entering property into a conservation easement, public access easement or even a fee title purchase of lands, the program offers landowners incentives for their participation, and our state’s wildlife and residents benefit significantly.

Since 2006 when the program was established, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has invested nearly $172 million across the state to secure 253,000 acres of conservation easements, public access to 360 miles of river bank, public access to 119,000 acres and 30,000 acres of fee title acquisitions. Funds for the program come directly from the sales of habitat stamps, hunting and fishing licenses, Great Outdoors Colorado and, occasionally, from federal funding sources.

Who can apply for this program? A landowner or their designee may submit a project funding proposal that meets one or more of the following CPW commission funding priorities:

• Public access for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing

• Big game winter range and migration corridors

• Protecting habitat for species of concern (specifically those species of greatest conservation need, as identified in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Statewide Action Plan)

• Riparian areas and wetlands

• Landscape-scale parcels and parcels that provide connectivity

For landowners interested in participating in the program, through either conservation easements, public access easements or, in appropriate circumstances, fee title sale of land to CPW, the program operates on an annual cycle.

The 2021 CWHP expects to open the Requests for Proposals by September with an anticipated application deadline of Oct. 28.

By voluntarily participating in the program, landowners would work closely with CPW to craft conservation easements and management plans for funded projects and includes annual monitoring and agreement of terms and conditions that fit the needs of CPW and the landowner. CPW recommends that landowners develop a clear vision of the future of their property prior to submitting a project proposal.

If you are interested in the program and would like to submit a project proposal or would like to learn if your land may be suitable for a project, reach out to your local district wildlife manager or contact our Steamboat Springs Customer Service Center at 970-870-2197, and we can begin a very important and valuable conversation.

Kyle Bond is district wildlife manager with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Steamboat Springs.

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