Nominations due Dec. 14 for landowner award

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking nominations for its Wildlife Landowner of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions made by private landowners to conserving wildlife, enhancing wildlife habitat and providing public access for hunting and fishing.

The winner will be honored at a banquet and an awards ceremony during the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo competition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver on Jan. 22.  Nominations for the award must be submitted by Dec. 14.

“More than four of every 10 acres in Colorado is in agricultural production,” said Ken Morgan, private lands program manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The management and stewardship of important habitat by farming and ranching families through the generations has been vital to supporting the remarkable wildlife abundance that many Coloradans take for granted today.”

The Wildlife Landowner of the Year Award is part of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Landowner Recognition Program, which since 1982 has highlighted the role of private land management and recognized landowners who’ve demonstrated leadership in wildlife conservation and sound management principles.

While Colorado is known for its 23 million acres of public lands, private lands are critical to maintaining populations of elk, mule deer, prairie falcons, pronghorn and sage grouse as well as a host of grassland species. Privately held water rights, held in reservoirs and released into streams, support warm- and cold-water sport fishing across the state.

“Farming and ranching families experience a connection to the landscape that many of us have lost,” Morgan said. “They understand that the sound soil, water and vegetative management practices that benefit their agricultural operations also benefit wildlife. The health of the land is not an abstract concept to them and that’s worth celebrating.”

Nominees for the Wildlife Landowner of the Year must be a resident of Colorado or own at least 160 acres in the state, and be actively engaged in farming or ranching business as an owner, lessor, lessee or manager. Winners will be based on a range of criteria, including land management practices, wildlife habitat improvements, accommodations for public hunting and fishing access and leadership in the promotion of sound wildlife practices on private lands.

For nomination forms and other information, visit www. wildlife.state.co.us.