A Non-Hunters Guide to Conservation in Colorado

Caption: A Summer Shower in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Photograph by Heather Valey 2023

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Conservation is a Collaborative Effort

When conservation issues come up very often I am reminded that hunters and fisherpersons fund the conservation in Colorado. But, Colorado’s conservation system operates through a combination of government agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners, and community initiatives and are not all funded by hunting & fishing. This is important because our lands are valued in many different ways in this state. Here’s an overview of how it works:

  1. Colorado Government Agencies:
    • Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW): CPW is responsible for managing the state’s parks, wildlife, and outdoor recreation areas. They oversee wildlife conservation, habitat management, hunting and fishing regulations, and outdoor education programs. Since a big bulk of habitats in Colorado are on private land, CPW works frequently with landowners and ranchers. Efforts by CPW are funded by revenue brought in from fishing & hunting licenses. taxes from hunting & fishing equipment, motor vehicle taxes from motorized recreational vehicles, and park generated pass income.
    • Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR): DNR coordinates conservation efforts related to water resources, forestry, mining, and energy development. They work to balance resource extraction with environmental protection. It is important to add that most of Colorado’s mining laws are 150 years old and don’t address modern issues.
    • Local Government Agencies: Counties and municipalities may have their own departments or agencies responsible for land use planning, conservation easements, and environmental regulations. Great examples of this are Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (BOSMP), and Jefferson County Open Space.
    • Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS): In a nutshell the Colorado State Forest Service is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and headquartered in Fort Collins. It is committed to delivering important forestry information and education to Colorado’s citizens. They aim for resilient forests and communities using applied science to address evolving forestry challenges.
A massive, fossilized Redwood tree stump at Florrisant National Monument near Florrisant, CO. photography by Heather Valey 2023
  1. National Government Agencies
  2. Non-profit Organizations:
Southern Plains Land Trust – photograph by Heather Valey 2022
  1. Private Landowners:
    • Many conservation efforts in Colorado rely on the voluntary participation of private landowners. They may enter into conservation easements or agreements to protect sensitive habitats, wildlife corridors, and scenic landscapes on their properties.
    • Private landowners also play a crucial role in habitat restoration, sustainable land management practices, and wildlife conservation initiatives on their lands.
  2. Community Initiatives:

This is not an exhaustive list but overall, Colorado’s conservation system is characterized by collaboration and partnerships among various stakeholders. Many of these are not funded by hunting or fishing. All of these pieces work together to protect the state’s natural resources, wildlife habitats, and scenic landscapes for current and future generations.

Heather Avatar

Heather Valey is an award winning conservation photographer, writer and passionate naturalist. For information on licensing images please reach out to Heather via email- heather@naturefix.net Heather's photography site is: www.heathervaley.net

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