Colorado Parks and Wildlife survey to Vail area locals hits mailboxes this week
Opinions from 3,000 Eagle County residents sought regarding wildlife
If you’re a Vail-area local, by now you may have received a questionnaire in the mail from Colorado Parks and Wildlife seeking your opinions about wildlife, wildlife habitat, land use and outdoor recreation participation and preferences.
The study was mailed to a random sample of 3,000 Eagle County residents last week.
Michael Quartuch, a human dimensions specialist and researcher with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, indicated in a cover letter to residents that the the survey is to understand how much Eagle County residents value wildlife, habitat and other types of land use.
“Even if you rarely think about these topics, we still want to hear from you,” Quartuch said in the letter.
The study is part of ongoing efforts from the Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable, a community partnership between Eagle County, the White River National Forest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, local municipalities, nonprofits, businesses and the community.
For residents who were not randomly selected to participate, a shorter online version of the questionnaire will likely become available in the coming months.
How likely are you?
The survey asks locals how long they’ve lived in the valley and if they own or rent.
Questions about perceptions on wildlife habitat would identify environmental issues that residents are most concerned about, as well as the general attitude about the importance of wildlife in Eagle County and the protection of critical wildlife habitat.
The survey also seeks to learn what recreation activities and interests are of most importance to locals, broken up into categories of trail activities, winter activities, wildlife-related activities and other outdoor activities.
Land-use planning and local activities in Eagle County would also be gauged, with opinions on outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, development and the balance between them sought from respondents.
With public participation always factoring in land use decisions, a big question is also asked of respondents: How likely are you to attend a public meeting, contact local officials, sign a local petition or provide formal public comment in the next 12 months?
The wildlife roundtable put the survey together in partnership with its Land Use Committee and Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers.
Rick Spitzer with the wildlife roundtable said the survey is an important project that aims to gather a group of diverse stakeholders in the valley to understand and address issues facing wildlife.
The group maintains a blog on the Walking Mountains website where Spitzer has authored a collection of articles, including one describing another group the wildlife roundtable is attempting to attract: the “citizen scientist.”
“Citizen scientists have analyzed Kepler data that helped discover exoplanet systems,” Spitzer said. “They have also become the single greatest comet finders of all time, identifying thousands of comets.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is currently using citizen scientists to help identify raptors in the parks. Volunteers find nests and visit them biweekly, recording species behavior and activities.
To get involved, visit CPW.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/RS-RaptorMonitoringVolunteer.aspx