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GarCo report: Bear and water preparation

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Bear aware 
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Glenwood Springs District wildlife manager Matt Yamashita and assistant area wildlife manager Darren Chacon asked the commissioners to sign a letter in support of a regional funding effort to mitigate human and black bear encounters. 

CPW will distribute $1 million in grant funding, from the new Human Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grant Program, statewide. CPW’s Glenwood Springs District plans to request between $200,000 and $250,000. 

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Chacon relayed to the commissioners that the CPW commission approved a new data analysis unit bear plan last month, with the goal to keep human-bear contact calls under 450 annually. “Those 450 calls don’t just impact CPW officers,” explained Chacon. “They impact municipalities; they impact the PD [police department] and the sheriff’s department … a lot of times they’re going to a call before we are. It’s not only impacting 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 request support for a cohesive approach. 

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“Rather than all of the municipalities and counties competing against each other, if we can collaborate and work together as one large group, then Matt [Yamashita] would apply for one lump sum.” 

“Local agencies may form partnerships with other agencies, including local CPW staff, to conduct a project,” reads the grant program guidelines. “While such partnerships are encouraged, they are not required.”

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“We’re looking at different ways to spend this money,” said Chacon, “it can be for bear-proof trash cans, hazing or education … the list goes on.” 

“The second part to it,” continued Yamashiata, “is just to get us to talk across municipal and county boundaries, and recognize that bears don’t see those boundaries … so to properly address those problems we need to be thinking along the same lines and not just pushing the problem onto our neighbors.”

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Grant applications are due by May 6, “So, CPW is looking for letters or funding up until April 22,” explained Yamashita. 

“I think it’s a good deal,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “I see where you want everyone on the same page and I applaud you for that.”

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Commissioner Tom Jankovsky wanted to clarify that CPW wasn’t requesting funding from the county. Yamashita explained that CPW would not turn down an offer but, at this time, is relying on the municipalities to add to the coffers for matching funds. 

“This grant process, the way it’s laid out, matching funding is taken into consideration,” explained Yamashita. He stated that the majority of the 13 municipalities have committed between $10,000 to $20,000. 

Water quality
Following the wild fires of 2020 and the mudslides of 2021, concerns over water quality have peaked.  

Paula Stepp, executive director of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), appeared to request funding for the continuing effort to monitor and improve water quality on the Colorado River between Glenwood Canyon and De Beque. 

“When we have a debris flow incident up here, it’s all coming in and we’re seeing it rise pretty quickly in Glenwood. By the time it gets to Silt, Parachute or De Beque, the problem is that it’s not like immediate and then flushed through,” Stepp explained. “It just stays, stays and stays, and they’re dealing with a runoff situation of sediment throughout the summer and into the fall, as opposed to just having a short-term runoff period where they have higher sediment.” 

Last year, among other efforts, MCWC set up water quality monitoring, soil moisture monitoring and rain gauges. 

Ryan Sparhawk, soil scientist with White River National Forest based out of Glenwood Springs, spoke to the source of the debris flows. “Our question is, where did this material come from?” 

Rather than from the burn scars themselves, where only about two inches of soil was lost, according to Sparhawk, the large debris flows came from the gulches leading into the canyon. 

“It was really interesting for us to find out that the fire scar had an impact on these debris flows, but there were also other physical forces happening to produce all of that debris,” he explained. 

After a thorough presentation, the 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 the commissioners’ meetings are available online at

Tags: #GarCo report #Garfield County #James Steindler
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