INTERIOR SECRETARY JEWELL TALKS WITH NATIONAL, STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS ABOUT SAGE GROUSE
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Governor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe, BLM Deputy Director Neil Kornze, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers, and around 20 others showed up to the Bord Gulch Ranch yesterday to talk about Sage Grouse issues. Ranch owner Ray Owens spoke to the crowd about the various conservations efforts he’s made on the ranch, that benefit all wildlife, including the Sage Grouse. He also gave accounts of how his measures have been successful. Jewell and Hickenlooper both seemed impressed, and spoke to the efforts he has made. They point to those efforts as an example of how successful conservation measures can be with cooperation between all affected parties. That’s something the Moffat County Commissioners have stressed throughout the process of trying to keep the bird off of the endangered species list. The commissioners say the BLM’s plan to keep the species viable will lock up the majority of federal lands in the county, and they say more input from other agencies would show the plans flaws. They point to predator control and economic impact, two issues barely mentioned in the BLM plan, as examples. Ashe heads the agency that would be responsible for listing the bird as either endangered or threatened. He says IF the bird is listed as threatened, which he says would be the more likely listing, Fish and Wildlife would have discretion over special rules that would allow minimal impact in Colorado. He says with the efforts that have been made in the state, it’s clear those exemptions would be appropriate. After the tour, the group went to the American Legion for a secret meeting closed to the press. It’s not clear what was discussed in that meeting. Pictured top: l-r Governor John Hickenlooper, Secretary Sally Jewell and Commissioner Tom Mathers. Pictured bottom: l-r Bord Gulch Ranch owner Ray Owens and Secretary Sally Jewell . (click photos to enlarge)
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Honors Ray Owens As Landowner Of The Year
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will honor two winners as Landowners of the Year for 2013 before the Pro Rodeo at the National Western Stock Show on Thursday, Jan. 23. The 2013 Landowners of the Year are Bord Gulch Ranch Manager Ray Owens and Turkey Creek Ranch owners Gary and Georgia Walker.
Owens manages the sprawling 15,000+ acre Bord Gulch Ranch about 20 miles northwest of Craig. The ranch is prime habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer, winters thousands of elk, and is a year-round home to dozens of other species. Owens works closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and wildlife conservation groups to manage the traditional ranching property in a way that benefits the area’s native wildlife.
Gary and Georgia Walker’s approximately 65,000 acre Turkey Creek Ranch property is prime short grass prairie and agricultural riparian lands west of Pueblo. The Walkers have managed the property as successful ranchers and as stewards of the native wildlife for more than 50 years. In late 2013, they became the first private landowners in the state to release black-footed ferrets onto their private property under a safe-harbor agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Black-footed ferrets were once dubbed “the most endangered animal in North America,” and remain incredibly rare in the wild.
“Ray Owens and the Walkers are proof that private landowners can do amazing things for wildlife in ways that government cannot,” said Bob Broscheid, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We are pleased to join them at the National Western Stockshow and honor their efforts and the efforts of all the private landowners in the state.”
Colorado is known by sportsmen around the world for its 23 million acres of public lands, but four of every 10 acres in the state are privately owned. Private lands are critical to maintaining populations of mule deer, pronghorn, elk, sage-grouse, prairie falcons and a host of grassland species. Privately held water rights, held in reservoirs and released into streams, supports both warm- and cold-water sport fishing across the state.
The Wildlife Landowner of the Year Award is part of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Landowner Recognition Program, which has worked to highlight exemplary land management practices and recognize landowners who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in wildlife conservation since 1982.
Nominees for Landowner of the Year must be residents of Colorado or own at least 160 acres in the state, and be actively engaged in farming or ranching business as owners, lessors, lessees, or managers. Evaluations are based on a range of criteria, including current land management practices, wildlife habitat improvements, accommodations for public hunting and fishing access and leadership in the promotion of sound wildlife practices on private lands.
“Farming and ranching families have a connection to the land,” said Ken Morgan, Private Lands Program Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “They know that sound soil, water and vegetation management practices benefit their agricultural operations and also benefit wildlife. The health of the land is not an abstract concept to them and that’s worth celebrating.” Pictured l-r: Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers; Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe; Bord Gulch Ranch owner Ray Owens. (click photo to enlarge)
GROUP RESEARCHING SENIOR FACILITY UPDATES COMMISSIONERS
The citizens group looking into establishing a senior facility in Craig seems to have their building picked out. Neil Folks gave the commissioners an update on the groups activities yesterday. He said everyone seems to like the idea of putting the facility at the American Legion. He said there were other buildings looked at, including the Safeway building and the Bell Tower at CNCC. However each site had either parking, weather, or icy sidewalk issues that would cause safety problems for seniors. The group’s work is still very preliminary, but Folks said they hope to have a public meeting to gather more input from the community sometime next week.
STATE PARKS OFFERS SNOWMOBILE COURSE IN WALDEN
Snowmobiling is one of Colorado’s most popular winter activities and continues to attract a wide variety of participants looking for a fun way to enjoy backcountry snow. To ensure that everyone recreates in a safe and legal manner, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will offer the public a free Colorado Snowmobile Safety Course, February 1st at State Forest State Park in Walden. Anyone between the ages of 10 and 16 who plans to operate a snowmobile on public lands must take the course and earn their certificate, or be supervised by someone who is certified. Park Ranger Sam McCloskey recommends that adults should take the class, even though it is not required for anyone over the age of 16. The Colorado Snowmobile Safety Course consists of six hours of classroom instruction and an additional hour of performance testing on a snowmobile. You do not have to own a machine in order to take the course. For more information, call (970) 723-8366.
LAWMAKERS COME TOGETHER FOR WILDFIRE/FLOOD ISSUES
Colorado’s recent fires and floods are dominating lawmakers’ attention in the early days of the legislative session. So far, the measures addressing natural disasters seem to be uniting the parties. A Senate committee voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a bill to make it easier for counties to pay for road and bridge repairs after a disaster. And the full House could vote as soon as today to re-organize state disaster planning. Several more measures aimed at helping disaster responders and victims are pending in the Legislature and look to have broad bipartisan support.
BENNET TO TAKE GRAND JUNCTION VET TO STATE OF THE UNION
Yesterday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced that Vietnam veteran Wayne Telford, of Grand Junction, will be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. next week. Wayne has worked to raise awareness about the warning signs and high rate of suicide among Veterans ever since his daughter, U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Brooke Leigh Caffrey, committed suicide in 2012. Last year, Wayne served on a panel of mental health experts, service providers, and veterans commissioned by Senator Bennet to address the issue. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Pictured: Michael Bennet
RESIDENTS MADE AWARE OF RETURNING COMPUTER SCAM
Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell yesterday issued a renewed warning concerning a telephone / computer scam once again making the rounds. In this ruse, commonly called the “Computer Tech Scam” or “Tech Support Scam,” scammers cold-call people, very often seniors, and tell them that their computer has become infected with a virus, contains malware, or is otherwise experiencing problems. The caller then encourages the intended victim to turn on his or her computer so that they may work together to solve the non-existent problem. Authorities said there was a wave of such calls in Sweetwater County in 2013, and now they appear to be starting up again. Callshave also been received in Moffat County. The swindlers involved falsely identify themselves as representatives of a legitimate, well-known company such as Microsoft in an effort to sound legitimate and may know their prospective victim’s name and address. In addition to providing sensitive identification and financial information to scammers, victims are charged anywhere from $50 to $500 in phony “repair fees” or “tech support charges.” Authorities say those companies will NEVER call you to fix a problem, so if you receive one of these calls, you should immediately hang up.
IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The Steamboat girls fell to Rifle (35-18). The boys won (52-33).
Soroco hosts Vail Christian. The girls play at 4:30 and the boys at 6.
Moffat County travels to a triangular with Delta and Hotchkiss.
Rangely hosts a Triangular meet.