Glenwood Springs District Wildlife Director Matt Yamashita and Region Deputy Wildlife Director Darren Chacon asked commissioners to sign a letter in support of a regional fundraising effort to mitigate encounters between humans and black bears.
CPW will distribute $1 million in grants from the new Human Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grants Program, statewide. CPW’s Glenwood Springs District expects to seek between $200,000 and $250,000.
Chacon told commissioners that the CPW commission last month approved a new bear plan from the Data Analysis Unit, with the aim of keeping human-bear contact calls below 450 per year. “These 450 calls don’t just affect CPW officers,” Chacon explained. “They have an impact on municipalities; they impact the PD [police department] and the sheriff’s department…often they call ahead of us. This doesn’t just affect our agency; it’s community-wide.
CPW is reaching out to the 13 municipalities in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys, as well as the four counties (including Gunnison County), to ask for support for a cohesive approach.
“Rather than all municipalities and counties competing, if we can collaborate and work together as one big group, then Matt [Yamashita] would ask for a lump sum.
“Local agencies may form partnerships with other agencies, including local CPW staff, to complete a project,” reads the grant program guidelines. “While such partnerships are encouraged, they are not mandatory.”
“We’re looking at different ways to spend that money,” Chacon said, “it could be for bear-proof trash cans, hazing, or education…the list goes on.”
“The second part,” Yamashiata continued, “is just to get us to talk across municipal and county lines, and recognize that bears don’t see those lines…so to properly address these issues, we We have to think along the same lines and not just push the problem onto our neighbours.
Grant applications must be submitted by May 6. “So CPW is looking for letters or funding until April 22,” Yamashita explained.
“I think it’s a good deal,” Commissioner Mike Samson said. “I see where you want everyone to be on the same page and I commend you for that.”
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky wanted to clarify that the CPW was not asking for funding from the county. Yamashita explained that CPW would not turn down an offer but, for now, is relying on municipalities to add matching funds to the coffers.
“This grant process, the way it’s presented, the matching funding is taken into consideration,” Yamashita explained. He said the majority of the 13 municipalities have committed between $10,000 and $20,000.
Following the 2020 wildfires and 2021 mudslides, concerns about water quality have peaked.
Paula Stepp, executive director of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), appeared to request funding for the ongoing effort to monitor and improve the water quality of the Colorado River between Glenwood Canyon and De Beque.
“When we have a debris flow incident here, anything happens and we see it increasing quite quickly at Glenwood. By the time it gets to Silt, Parachute or De Beque, the problem is it’s not like immediate and then flushed,” explained Stepp. “It stays and stays and stays, and they’re dealing with a sediment runoff situation through the summer and into the fall, as opposed to just having a short-term runoff period where they have more sediment.”
Last year, among other efforts, MCWC implemented water quality monitoring, soil moisture monitoring and rain gauges.
Glenwood Springs-based White River National Forest soil scientist Ryan Sparhawk spoke about the source of the debris flows. “Our question is, where does this material come from?”
Rather than the burn scars themselves, where only about two inches of soil was lost, according to Sparhawk, the large debris flows came from the ravines leading into the canyon.
“It was really interesting for us to find out that the fire scar was impacting these debris flows, but there were also other physical forces that were producing all of this debris,” he explained.
After an extensive presentation, commissioners unanimously agreed to award MCWC $10,000 from the general fund and an additional $5,000 from its discretionary funding budget.
As a reminder to readers, video recordings of Commissioners’ meetings are available online at www.garfield-county.com