In November 2020, Colorado voters approved a measure to reintroduce gray wolves to the state, 76 years after the last wolf was killed there. Now Colorado Parks and Wildlife is developing a plan to reintroduce wolves. But conservation groups say the process to date hasn’t included enough public input and has instead been dominated by the very groups responsible for the eradication of wolves in the first place — hunters and ranchers. (No paywall)
For the first time this year, officials identified highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic flocks in Montana and Colorado. With the discoveries, bird flu has been found in 25 states, from Maine and North Carolina and Texas and Wyoming since early February and at 159 sites totaling 24.65 million birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, according to USDA data.
Decades of drought and overuse have pushed the Colorado River to an ecological “tipping point,” and conservationists need to work closely with farmers and tribal nations to save it, several water experts said Wednesday at a webinar organized by the Nature Conservancy’s Colorado chapter.
Colorado voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative directing wildlife officials to reintroduce gray wolves west of the Rocky Mountains. It was the first time in U.S. history that voters mandated the reintroduction of a threatened species. “The ballot initiative was the final Hail Mary approach to get this done, to break the stranglehold that the livestock industry has had over this for decades,” said Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, the organization behind the initiative. (No paywall)
Colorado voters will decide on Nov. 3 whether the gray wolf, nearly hunted to extinction a century ago, will have a home west of the Continental Divide in their state. If they approve Inititiative 114, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission would be charged with planning for and carrying out the reintroduction of the gray wolf by the end of 2023, including the possibility of compensation for livestock lost to wolves.
Several states are considering country of origin labeling (COOL) proposals, which would require that beef products be labeled as imported or domestic products. The state proposals follow several years of attempts by rancher groups to revive federal law that would require country of origin labeling for beef.
A bill in the Colorado legislature would require that raw beef sold in the state be identified as either “USA Beef” or “Imported Beef,” says Drovers. The bill’s House sponsor says it would boost cattle prices in Colorado.
Wildlife Services, the branch of the USDA that controls so-called problem wildlife, will no longer use “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes on public lands in Colorado.
A decade or more ago, farmers in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado began to run out of irrigation water. The solution, after years of court cases and finger-pointing, was an agreement to raise the price of water, says the NPR blog The Salt.
A first-of-its kind program in the Colorado River basin is paying ranchers and farmers to forgo their water rights in order to conserve the region’s rivers and lakes. Launched in 2014, the $15-million “money-for-water program” was funded “by the four largest municipal water providers in the Colorado River basin (which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California), along with the Bureau of Reclamation,” says High Country News.
Thinly populated Saguache County in southwestern Colorado finished at the bottom of a FiveThirtyEight analysis of national broadband usage. According to the report, in Saguache County, “only 5.6 percent of adults were estimated to have broadband.”
By the same 2-1 vote as last November, Boulder County commissioners approved a new version of their plan to phase out genetically engineered corn and sugar beets on county-owned farmland.
Colorado State University has appointed former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie, as strategic advisors for three years in launching new initiatives, including the National Western Center in northern Denver, said the Denver Post. The university intends to turn the site of the National Western stock show into a university-like setting for innovators to tackle global water, food and population issues.
The Forest Service is wading through public comments on its proposal to continue to allow ranchers to graze up to 5,600 sheep in the largest wilderness area in Colorado, which is three-quarters of the size of Rhode Island, says The Associated Press. Despite hopes that a decision on the year-old proposal would be announced this winter, it could be months before that happens, according to a Forest Service spokeswoman.
The U.S. House struck down a Bureau of Land Management rule drafted under the Obama administration that was meant to give the public more say in decision-making around public lands. “BLM officials developed the rule saying it would increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology to decide whether and where drilling, mining and logging will happen on public land,” says The Denver Post.
One-third of the land growing winter wheat is in drought territory, triple the portion that was affected two months ago, says USDA's Ag in Drought report. Dry conditions are a threat to establishment — and potential yields — of the crop, which is planted in the fall, lies dormant during the winter and is harvested in the spring.
Over the next few years, farmers who rent land from Boulder County, CO, will have to phase out genetically modified corn and sugarbeet crops, said the Boulder Daily Camera. County commissioners voted 2-1 for the ban, and said research into the benefits and drawbacks of GMOs and conventionally bred seeds can proceed concurrently with the phase-out.
Colorado is the first state in the nation to certify seeds for growing hemp, meaning they contain tiny amounts of the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana its buzz, says the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. A state Agriculture Department official said certified seeds, the result of a project begun in March with Colorado State University and Colorado Seed Growers Association, will give hemp farmers confidence they are growing a legal plant.