State sharing habitat protection funds |

State sharing habitat protection funds

Brooke Bates

DENVER – The Colorado Division of Wildlife expanded its funding, and now it wants to extend its reach.Working with Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Habitat Stamp Program and the Colorado Species Conservation Partnership Program, the division collected about $20 million to protect wildlife habitats across the state. It will grant these funds to chosen properties through its new Wildlife Habitat Protection Program.”This is a great opportunity to pool resources with other funding sources to conserve habitat,” division spokesperson Tyler Baskfield said. “It opens our range of projects.”

The division is looking for critical habitat, with emphasis on areas where big game migrates and where sagebrush is prevalent. Private landowners, land trusts and other conservation organizations can submit properties with these characteristics to the division until July 31. The division will review each application and decide where to grant funding.Although the division can purchase property titles, it would rather buy development rights, or “easements,” Baskfield said. This would allow landowners to keep their titles and maintain their land, but the property would be blocked from development.

“With an easement, we partner with the owner,” Baskfield said. “They can still use the land how they want to, but we’ll protect it.”In addition to purchasing easements, division funding will be used for habitat protection projects, Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said. These projects could include fishing access and tamarisk removal.”Eagle County is one of the areas we’re paying special attention to because of all the development going on,” Baskfield said. “It’d be great to step in and protect some of the critical wetlands and sage areas in the valley.”In the end, it will depend on who applies for Division of Wildlife funding.”If people or organizations in Eagle County have projects that they think will enhance or protect wildlife habitat, this is certainly a good opportunity for them to see if their ideas fit our funding,” Hampton said.Brooke Bates can be reached at vdeditintern@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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