Steamboat briefs: Contest to catch 1st sandhill crane sighting returns to valley |

Steamboat briefs: Contest to catch 1st sandhill crane sighting returns to valley

The return migration of the Greater Sandhill Cranes to the Yampa Valley has begun. Cranes are leaving their winter homes in New Mexico and Arizona and heading north. The first arrivals are expected in the Yampa Valley sometime during the first or second week of March.

The Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, presenter of the annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival, which will be held Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, is once again sponsoring a First-Crane-Sighting-of-the-Season contest. Document your sighting of the first Greater Sandhill Crane spotted in your area of the Yampa Valley by either emailing your photo to or mailing your photo to CCCC headquarters, 40625 County Road 69A, Hayden, CO 81639. Include the date, time, and location of your sighting, as well as your name and any other pertinent details.

A prize will be awarded to each individual with the photo of the earliest sighting in West, North and South Routt county areas, plus Steamboat Springs and Craig. A special grand prize will be given for the overall earliest sighting in the entire Yampa Valley. Winners and photos will be announced at the end of March on the CCCC website at

Yampapalooza III planned; musicians needed for event

Bands and solo artists are needed for a day-long celebration of local talent. The Yampapalooza III event will be held April 29 at the Old Town Pub & Restaurant in Steamboat Springs. Contact for more information.

BLM, Forest Service announce 2017 grazing fee

The federal grazing fee for 2017 will be $1.87 per animal unit month, or AUM, for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.87 per head month, or HM, for lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, according to a news release from BLM.

The 2016 public land grazing fee was $2.11.

An AUM or HM — treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes — is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly calculated grazing fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective today, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service.

The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, which was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential executive order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.

The annually determined grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM/HM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then calculated according to three factors — current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production. In effect, the fee rises, falls or stays the same based on market conditions, with livestock operators paying more when conditions are better and less when conditions have declined.

The 2017 grazing fee of $1.87 per AUM/HM applies to 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Permit holders and lessees may contact their local BLM or U.S. Forest Service office for additional information.

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