State wildlife agency launches new habitat conservation program
DENVER – The Colorado Division of Wildlife has launched a program aimed at protecting more land and waterways for wildlife by pooling funds, including revenue from a new “habitat” stamp.The division will combine funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, a program that works with private landowners and new fees on non-hunters who use state wildlife areas.”This allows us to get more mileage out of the money involved,” division spokesman Tyler Baskfield said.Up to $20 million likely will be available over the next year for landowners, conservation groups and land trusts that want to team up with the Division of Wildlife to acquire habitat.”Partnering with other conservation organizations and landowners to multiply our resources will help Colorado conserve wildlife habitat,” said Bruce McCloskey, division director.Baskfield said the division expects to receive about $8 million for habitat conservation this budget year from Great Outdoors Colorado, which distributes state lottery funds.The bulk of the money will come from the agency’s Colorado Species Conservation Partnership, which uses conservation easements and other methods to protect wildlife habitat. Landowners who enter conservation easements agree to not develop an area in exchange for payments or tax credits.Baskfield said the division prefers to protect habit through conservation easements rather than buying land. He said easements mean lower maintenance costs and fewer concerns from local governments about losing part of their property tax revenue.A new requirement that hikers and other recreationists pay to use any of Colorado’s 216 state trust lands and 241 state wildlife areas is expected to raise $2.3 million a year for habitat conservation. Nonhunters can buy an annual stamp for $10. The cost is $5 for hunters and anglers when they buy a license.The habitat protection program’s priorities include conserving critical winter range and migration corridors for big game and range for the Gunnison and greater sage grouse.
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