Issues And Resolution
ISSUE 1: WATER RESOURCE OPTIMIZATION.
Water resource optimization continues to be a priority in the area and consequently for the NLCHPP. The continued influx of people and development in this area, with limited water resources, brings water to the forefront of concern, especially during droughts. In many situations, water law is either misunderstood or disregarded. Examples of inappropriate water use exist, and flows to fulfill the legal rights of downstream users have not been maintained. Plans for reservoir development or enlargement and new or additional diversion plans raise additional concerns. Water quality as well as quantity is an issue. Many streams and creeks have dried up completely. Consequently springs have become an increasingly important source of water for livestock and wildlife, impacting the distribution and use of the landscape by these animals. Spring development is a tool used by the NLCHPP in an effort to assist land managers to maximize the potential for use and distribution of livestock and wildlife on rangeland.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that develop and enhance springs and other water features on private and public lands to benefit optimal use of habitat by wildlife and livestock.
- The NLCHPP will seek and fund projects that protect and enhance riparian sites and preserve stream flows.
- In considering potential projects, the NLCHPP will encourage knowledge of and compliance with current water law. The committee will not approve projects that usurp water rights.
- The NLCHPP will not consider funding projects that involve settling disputes between water users.
- Projects funded by the NLCHPP will make appropriate, conservative use of water resources.
- The NLCHPP encourages projects that enhance water quality and monitoring of water quality as part of the project.
ISSUE 2: RANGE IMPROVEMENT FOR WILDLIFE AND LIVESTOCK:
Maintaining healthy, vigorous pasture, rangeland, riparian habitat and forests is an essential element of wildlife and livestock management. Plant diversity and quality are maintained by carefully balancing forage production with use by herbivores. There are many tools that may be employed to minimize opportunity for over utilization of pasture and to invigorate declining plant stands. Failure to adequately monitor and manage forage on rangelands and woodlands may result in loss of plant diversity, quality or abundance which will negatively impact wildlife and livestock use. Decline of vegetation quality may also result in erosion, negative impacts to water availability, water quality and encroachment by invasive plants. Invasive species compete with desirable plants resulting in loss of available forage for wildlife and livestock. The NLCHPP encourages projects that maintain or enhance the quality of rangeland and forests using tools that positively impact plant communities and management of livestock and wildlife.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that use seeding, interseeding, transplant, fertilization, fencing and other appropriate techniques to improve range condition and consequently habitat for wildlife and livestock.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that use mechanical and chemical techniques as well as grazing plans for controlling noxious weeds as a method of improving range quality.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that incorporate grazing plans, fencing, water development, fire and other management techniques that will improve the quality of the plant community for wildlife and livestock.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that improve habitat to maximize dispersal of wildlife as specified in Division of Wildlife DAU plans. The NLCHPP will encourage the use of appropriate strategies to minimize and prevent overutilization of plant stands by wildlife and livestock.
- The NLCHPP encourages projects that maintain and enhance wildlife movement corridors and greenbelts in rural subdivisions and other lands. This will be done to insure full utilization of quality habitat in the area, as well as fulfilling goals of Division of Wildlife DAU plans and CWD goals.
- The NLCHPP will consider participating in funding transaction costs in perfecting conservation easement that protect and enhance lands with significant habitat value. Participation includes but is not limited to appraisal costs, appraisal reviews, development and implementation of management plans, biological and resource consulting, preparation of baseline documentation reports, phase one reports, mineral remoteness reports and surveys.
- NLCHPP supports the habitat assessment model that will be done for the NLCHPP area.
ISSUE 3: THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES HABITAT,
PREBLE'S MEADOW JUMPING MOUSE:
Several species of wildlife found in various habitats within the NLCHPP area are listed on the Colorado and or Federal Threatened or Endangered (T&E) Species lists. Others listed on the Colorado list of Species of Concern (SC) may also be found in this area. The fact that these species may be found here bears witness to the careful stewardship private and public land holders within the NLCHPP area have provided in managing livestock, wildlife and lands. Critical habitat for T&E and SC species also help support livestock as well as many wildlife and plant populations. The NLCHPP supports the continued traditional uses of rangeland in a responsible manner that has protected habitat, plant diversity and healthy wildlife populations in our area.
Habitat Conservation Plans are a tool used to guide efforts for protection and recovery of species listed as threatened or endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Livermore Area Habitat Conservation Plan (LAHCP) was drafted by a local group and submitted to the USFWS for review and approval. NLCHPP participated in this process. The Habitat Conservation Plan was approved and implemented by the USFWS. The Habitat Conservation Plan for Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse (PMJM) will require support and participation of private and public land managers. Adoption and support of this plan will allow landowners that participate in this HCP the benefit of continuing with traditional land uses while affording an appropriate level of protection for Preble’s mouse. Larimer County Department Natural Resources has also submitted a draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Eagle’s Nest Open Space Area to the USFWS for consideration. Protection and enhancement of riparian habitat in the NLCHPP is critical for maintaining the currently healthy mouse population in this area.
- The NLCHPP will support and assist in programs and management efforts which protect and enhance habitat for PMJM.
- The NLCHPP will not support projects that damage riparian habitat essential for PMJM unless a mitigation plan for the loss has been approved by the USFWS.
- The NLCHPP may support activities that may proactively avoid species listing as threatened/endangered.
- Efforts to maintain and enhance critical habitat through various strategies including but not limited to fencing, weed control, development implementation and monitoring of habitat restoration plans, use of forest management tools, funding transaction costs for conservation easements, funding required surveys that are part of the NEPA process, planning implementing and monitoring water development projects, habitat research and monitoring studies, population research and/or monitoring studies, inventory research and/or monitoring studies, and education efforts that increase understanding of the relationship between habitat quality and species stability will be considered by the NLCHPP in encouraging the continued stewardship of private and public lands.
ISSUE 4: WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AND GAME DAMAGE:
Concern was initially expressed that reductions in deer and/or elk populations, resulting from increased harvest or spread of CWD might result in increased depredation on livestock. Primary predator populations fluctuate in part as a result of availability of their prey base. In response to a drop in deer or elk numbers, mountain lion, black bear and coyotes may increase depredation on livestock and hobbystock or increasingly come into conflict with humans. The NLCHPP initially formed to consider options for addressing the potential threat to livestock caused by reductions in deer and elk populations due to management efforts or CWD. However, these concerns did not materialized during the past 5 years of the NLC HPP efforts.
Some landowners in the NLCHPP believe wildlife, especially elk or deer, may at times concentrate on prime range and directly compete with livestock for limited grass resources, create localized damage to forage and various plant stands, and cause damage to fences. While problems are dispersed throughout the NLCHPP they do impact livestock operators and land managers alike and therefore deserve to be identified and resolved if possible.
- NLCHPP will encourage projects including, but not limited to, fencing, water development (including water quality), weed control, fertilization, seeding, mechanical manipulations, forest management, planning implementing and monitoring habitat restoration plans, cooperative projects and educational efforts that enhance range condition to maximize distribution of big game herds and use by livestock.
- In an effort to assist landowners defray the financial burden caused by big game damage to fencing, the NLCHPP will implement a program to provide reimbursement for fencing materials on an annual basis.
- The NLCHPP will consider funding on other game damage projects including but not limited to: stackyard construction and repair (materials and/or labor), distribution hunts, hunt coordinators (for distribution, youth hunts etc.), forage leases/purchases, and baiting into and out of damage problem areas.
- To facilitate the unrestricted movement of wildlife to appropriate habitat, the NLCHPP will encourage projects in rural subdivisions and other lands that preserve and enhance wildlife corridors and greenbelts.
- The NLCHPP will support projects using herding, fencing, hunting and other appropriate techniques in moving big game herds adversely competing with livestock on private lands.
- The NLCHPP will consider participating in funding transaction costs used in perfecting conservation easements that protect and enhance lands with significant habitat value. Participation includes but is not limited to appraisals, appraisal reviews, development and implementation of management plans, biological and resource consulting, preparation of baseline documentation reports, phase one reports, mineral remoteness reports and surveys.
- The NLCHPP will consider funding or contributing to research/monitoring projects on habitat, populations, inventories and movement that assist in a better understanding of the dynamics of interactions between herbivores and available habitat.
- The NLCHPP supports projects that provide enhanced access for hunting to meet DAU plans, GMU objectives and CWD goals. Projects include but are not limited to use of hunt coordinators to facilitate resolution of access problems for big game hunters on private lands and providing enhanced access to lands via leases or other methods.
- The NLCHPP encourages habitat enhancement projects including range improvements, vegetation restoration, and spring development that will maximize distribution of big game herds in a manner consistent with DAU plans and CWD goals.
- The NLCHPP will support projects that increase public understanding of CWD issues and CDOW management goals through education and outreach efforts. These efforts should focus on up to date CWD management strategies and research findings on disease transmission among deer, moose, and elk, changes in prevalence rates, and potential for transmission to other species.
ISSUE 5: CHANGING LAND USE PATTERNS:
Poorly planned development of private lands may lead to the diminution of quality open space, fragmentation of wildlife habitat and redistribution of wildlife. Increasing ex-urban development may impede some agricultural operational functions. The presence of livestock and large land holdings is essential to ensure open space and habitat availability needed by wildlife. Using tools including covenants boards and organizations, and homeowner’s associations play an increasingly important role in land holdings governance. Through effective use of these tools key wildlife habitat may be protected and enhanced. For effective wildlife management it is important to remember that efforts to protect key habitat must be considered on the landscape level, and that multiple landowners must work together to achieve shared goals.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects involving educational efforts, forums and discussions that facilitate understanding and cooperation between landowners.
- The NLCHPP will support projects that enhance conflict resolution between ranching/farming interests and rural subdivision residents.
- The NLCHPP will encourage projects that benefit multiple landowners including but not limited to: riparian protection and enhancement, water resource optimization, small acreage wildlife management, habitat enhancement, and weed management.
- The NLCHPP will work with Homeowner’s Associations on projects that benefit wildlife habitat and wildlife management.
- The NLCHPP will consider funding transaction costs associated with creation of conservation easements and other instruments that protect significant wildlife habitat and rangelands.