Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable receives $75,000 grant
The funding will allow the group to plot its future roadmap and increase regional collaboration with other groups
The Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable recently received a $75,000 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado to help propel the group into the future.
The grant is part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado’s Outdoor Regional Partnership grants. These grants provide funding to both new and existing coalitions to join a statewide initiative, the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnership. This partnership is a group of organizations working to strike a balance between Colorado’s natural resources and outdoor recreation and was created via an executive order from Gov. Jared Polis.
“Lead partners know the value and urgency of balancing conservation and stewardship with outdoor access and have shown their commitment to working alongside diverse community members and organizations to do so,” said Jackie Miller, the executive director of Great Outdoors Colorado, in a press release. “We’re hopeful for the creative solutions that will come from their efforts and the ways in which their work will contribute to a statewide vision for conservation, recreation and climate resilience.”
The Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable was one of four coalitions to receive funds from the grant’s third round of funding. All four of the grant recipients are based in Colorado’s central mountain region with the hope that they will all “explore opportunities to collaborate through a Mountain Community Outdoor Collective,” according to the award announcement.
The local roundtable group was formalized in 2021 as a partnership between the White River National Forest, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and local government entities. When formed, its stated goal was to “tackle issues surrounding the changing wildlife populations and suitable habitat in Eagle County.”
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So far, some of the group’s greatest achievements have been around outreach and education — including regular columns in the Vail Daily and community events — as well as creating more understanding around human-wildlife interactions in the county, according to Jessica Foulis, the executive director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust and member of the Community Wildlife Roundtable organizing committee.
More specifically, “the Land Use Committee worked together with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to launch a community wildlife survey to better understand community opinions and values around wildlife,” Foulis said, adding that another success was the Eagle County wildlife interactive map that was created to track wildlife habitats and migrations.
The group is currently funded by the town of Vail and Eagle County government — with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance and Eagle Valley Land Trust also offering services and resources in kind. However, looking ahead, this grant will provide the main source of funding for its work in the future.
Right now, Foulis said the group is in a “reboot phase,” and that this grant funding will help it better plan for the future.
“This will inform the future roadmap,” Foulis said. “The hope is at the end of this process, we’ll have the maps and a list of projects for implementation over the next five to 10 years, both for wildlife and for recreation.”
More specifically, the group is looking to “develop criteria, collaboratively develop criteria and common goals and objectives to inform habitat mapping and analysis,” she said.
The maps created from this work will then be used to inform “priorities for conservation and stewardship for wildlife” as well as understand the recreation resources in the county and find ways for recreation and environmental stewardship to balance, Foulis added.
“The hope is that these maps will give us all a sense of our combined priorities and then each partner or member of the Community Wildlife Roundtable can use these maps and resources to help inform their respective planning efforts as appropriate,” she said.
The Community Wildlife Roundtable was formed to initiate collaboration and cooperation between regional entities, and the grant will only further this connection.
“The hope is that these maps will give us all a sense of our combined priorities and then each partner or member of the Community Wildlife Roundtable can use these maps and resources to help inform their respective planning efforts as appropriate,” Foulis said.
With this grant, “the overall goal is for community leaders in land management and conservation and wildlife and recreation to come together to work across jurisdictions and boundaries to protect wildlife and recreation in balance,” Foulis said.
However, this collaboration extends beyond the Eagle County groups that work with and represent the Community Wildlife Roundtable. This type of partnership is also embedded in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado grant as it seeks to bring groups together in the central mountain region. Foulis said the roundtable is looking forward to participating in this Mountain Community Outdoor Collective as it takes shape.
“We’re looking forward to learning from other communities and contributing knowledge to the overall effort,” she said.