Agriculture & Open Space

DESIRED OUTCOMES & RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

Vision 2020 recommended and the work of Vision 2030 confirms that comprehensive agriculture and open space strategies are necessary to preserve the “heart and soul” of the Yampa Valley. Open space and agriculture are two general characteristics that the community uniquely identifies, values, and desires to preserve for future generations in Routt County.
Agriculture and Open Space

AGRICULTURE

Desired outcome

Preserve, maintain and enhance our working agricultural landscapes; multi-generational ranching families; Western values; and cultural authenticity of our rural communities.



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials; community museums and historical societies; organizations such as Western Heritage Partnership; Historic Routt County!; Community Agriculture Alliance; Cattlewomen/Cattlemen; chambers, Steamboat Ski Area, lodging industry, agriculture and environmental organizations

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Continue to emphasize and advocate the importance of western agricultural heritage through planning, zoning and public policy.
ongoing
  • Continue to support entities that promote our western agricultural heritage.
ongoing
  • Maintain and develop strategic partnerships to promote and support the Western traditions such as the Routt County Fair; community rodeos, Winter Carnival, etc.
ongoing
  • Maintain and provide incentives for future historic easements and facades through public education and incentives.
mid term

VISION 2020 TO REALITY

The Community Agriculture Alliance was developed in 1999, bridging agriculture, business, community and resort interests, and has helped to develop many of the Vision 2020 recommendations, including cultural heritage tourism, value-added products, and more.


AGRICULTURE VIABILITY & SUSTAINABILITY

Desired outcome

Preserve, maintain and enhance working ranches and promote agriculture as an economic base; support a sustainable and diverse economy that includes ranching, farming, agri-tourism and the harvesting of natural resource products.



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials, Purchase of Development Rights board, develop a citizen group for transfer of development rights; CSU Routt County Extension; Routt County Sheriffs Office; Routt County 4-H; Routt County Conservation District; Routt County CattleWomen; Sustainability Council; Natural Resource Conservation Service, Community Agriculture Alliance; The Nature Conservancy, Deep Roots; Northwest Colorado Products; all agriculture, recreation and environmental groups: organizations such as local retailers, economic councils and MainStreet programs

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Promote local products and diverse markets for local agriculture and natural resource products.
short term and ongoing
  • Implement transfer of development rights program and continue support and renewal of the Purchase of Development Rights program.
ongoing
  • Foster educational programs and mediation options to help enforce fencing laws, water laws and land use issues.
short term
  • Enable local students to attend agricultural colleges by providing scholarships to agricultural schools and developing agricultural internships and mentoring programs within the county.
mid term and ongoing
  • Develop a land stewardship advocacy program that will promote efforts to encourage sustainable agriculture.
mid term
  • Research water leasing and carbon sequestration programs.
long term
  • Continue to develop agriculture, recreation and environmental partnerships.
ongoing

VISION 2020 TO REALITY

Vision 2020 recommended:
Identify and secure funding vehicle to buy open space and to leverage other funds.

In 1996, Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights program was voted in as a taxpayer-funded program. It was renewed in 2005.


WATER

Desired outcome

Preserve, maintain and enhance the water resources of the Yampa Valley; increase awareness and emphasize the importance of water quality, quantity and conservation issues



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials; developers; develop a citizen’s group comprised of all agricultural and environmental groups concerned with water resources , government agencies, municipalities, agriculture producers, etc.; Colorado Division of Water Resources, Routt County Environmental Health, Colorado Department of Health and Public Safety, Natural Resource Conservation Services; Sustainability Council

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Require that all new developments prove they can meet and/or provide for sufficient water quantity needs and maintain quality standards.
short term and ongoing
  • Encourage active involvement and participation of agricultural, wildlife, forestry municipal, recreational and environmental interests in the Yampa-White River Basin Round Table and in regional water conservancy districts in order to aid in the protection and appropriate development of the water resources of the Yampa Valley.
short term and ongoing
  • Develop a citizens’ water group that is active in protecting water resources for the Yampa Valley in order to ensure continued agriculture, wildlife, forestry, municipal, and recreational usage.
short term and ongoing
  • Be active on local water rights and water conservation projects to ensure adequate water quantity and quality.
ongoing
  • Be active in state and regional water discussions.
ongoing
  • Encourage open communication with existing state-appointed groups.
ongoing
Get involved: Yampa-White River Basin Roundtable
In 2005, the Colorado legislature created basin-wide water “roundtables” with mandatory inclusion of representatives of agriculture, recreation, environmental interests, and governmental interests. The Yampa-White River Basin Roundtable meets quarterly, discusses and covers a broad range of water issues, and obtains funding for water needs assessments.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, which includes the area from the headwaters of the Yampa River to below the Craig power plant, has been active for more than 30 years in protecting and appropriately developing the water resources of the Yampa Valley. These meetings are public and interested citizens are encouraged to attend.

For more information, visit: http://ibcc.state.co.us/Basins/YampaWhite


ACCESS TO OPEN SPACE

Desired outcome

Preserve, maintain and enhance recreational access on, and connecting to, public open space.



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Division of Wildlife, City of Steamboat Springs Parks, Trails and Open Space; Colorado Department of Transportation; Routt County Road and Bridge

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Encourage decision-makers to develop and adhere to existing and future land use and recreation management plans.
ongoing
  • Ensure the development approval process includes a review that specifically addresses continued public access corridors.
mid term and ongoing
  • Encourage linkage of urban areas to public open space and public transit in land use planning.
ongoing
  • Provide public road and trail easements.
ongoing
  • Develop usage criteria for trails and access.
short term
  • Identify and prioritize high-usage roads for bicycle pathways.
short term
  • Support, develop and expand segregated recreation areas when usages are not compatible (e.g. snowmachine, cross-country skiing, horses, bikes, etc.).
ongoing
  • Develop linkage to parks and trails in and around our communities.
ongoing

VISION 2020 TO REALITY

Vision 2020 recommended:
Create and implement the Routt County Agricultural Lands, Natural Areas and Open Space Resources Protection Plan.

Routt County Open Lands Plan was established in 1995. It is a plan for the protection of agricultural lands, natural areas and open spaces.

In the year of 2030, I truly hope the marvelous view of Steamboat Lake is still here to touch my heart, Grace Mark, North Routt


OPEN SPACE AND VIEW CORRIDORS

Desired outcome

Protect, maintain and enhance open space and view corridors to maintain our sense of place for current and future generations.



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials; Purchase of Development Rights board, develop a transfer of development rights citizens’ group; organizations such as Yampa Valley Land Trust; Colorado Department of Wildlife; Natural Resource and Conservation Services; Colorado Cattlemen’s Land Trust; private landowners; CSU Routt County Extension; private landscaping companies, builders and homeowners

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Adhere to existing and develop land use plans that establish a high priority for the protection of open space and view corridors.
ongoing
  • Continue to require higher density in urban areas.
ongoing
  • Continue Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights program and implement Transfer of Development Rights program.
ongoing
  • Encourage voluntary conservation easements and continue to support entities that facilitate them.
ongoing
  • Encourage and educate about the benefits of light pollution ordinances, ridgeline standards, increase skyline ordinance areas and underground utility line placements.
ongoing
  • Encourage native landscaping.
ongoing
  • Encourage and lobby for state legislation that minimizes fragmentation of open land parcels.
ongoing
VISION 2020 TO REALITY
Due in large part to Vision 2020, many acres of agricultural and open lands have been placed under conservation easements and are under long-term protected status.

Source: Community Indicators Report, Yampa Valley Partners, 2009

Routt County 2007 pie chart of private land, public land and percentage of land protected by conservation easements

HABITAT, WILDLIFE, WATERS

Desired outcome

Protect, conserve and enhance the wildlife habitat, riparian areas and wetlands. Prevent fragmentation of wildlife habitat, protect wildlife migration corridors and provide important transition zones from different habitat types.



Possible interest groups/stewards

County/city planning and elected officials; current and future development projects; U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management; Colorado Department of Wildlife; Routt County services (Road and Bridge, Planning), Natural Resource and Conservation Services; landowners
This is a special place to me because I love to go there, relax, catch frogs and I love to eat lunch there. I hope in the year 2030 there will be more living trees where the noxious weeds are so there will be no more noxious weeds along the river. Tommy Bertram, Hayden Valley
Elementary School

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Adhere to existing and develop future land use and wildlife habitat plans that promote the protection of these natural resources.
ongoing
  • Develop a comprehensive wildlife plan:

    • Identify and honor habitat corridors;
    • Identify and seek preservation of critical wildlife habitats;
    • Develop and honor wildlife mitigation plans;
    • Develop and honor a holistic, eco-system perspective that seeks preservation and enhancement of wildlife habitat and corridor planning;
    • Seek methods to strengthen the weed and invasive species control program.
mid term and long term
  • Encourage water and soil conservation projects.
ongoing
  • Provide incentives for wildlife habitat maintenance and stewardship.
ongoing
  • Preserve the river corridor through agriculture tax credits.
ongoing
  • Designate river corridors to provide further protection of rivers, while permitting the continued appropriate development of the water resources of the Yampa River for the benefit of the present and future residents of the Yampa River Valley.
ongoing
  • Discourage any trans-basin diversions of Yampa River water.
ongoing

EDUCATION AND AWARENESS

Desired outcome

Support, encourage, and foster educational efforts to provide greater awareness of the values of open space and agriculture as they relate to the sustainability and the preservation of the character of our valley.



Possible interest groups/stewards

City/county planning and elected officials; Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Forest Service; Colorado Department of Wildlife; State Land Board, organizations such as the Nature Conservancy; local conservation groups; local ranches; Forest Health and Blue Stain programs; Natural Resource and Conservation Services; Farm Service Agency; Community Agriculture Alliance; Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors; Routt County Weed Board

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Communicate the efforts, successes and mechanisms of existing programs: federal, state, local, non-profits and organizations.
ongoing
  • Use existing public properties (i.e. Emerald Mountain, Legacy Ranch) as education opportunities about open space and agriculture, including public signage for public open space and conservation properties.
short term and ongoing
  • Inform, educate and encourage all realtors to attend local land stewardship courses to encourage cooperative efforts.
ongoing
  • Strengthen public awareness efforts regarding weed and invasive species control programs.
short term and ongoing
  • Support and further develop youth organizations that focus on agriculture and the environment.
ongoing
  • Engender and foster a culture of community that nurtures partnerships and inclusivness.
ongoing
  • Continue to address estate planning and national issues that negatively impact agriculture.
ongoing
  • Develop actions to legislate or change the inheritance tax impacts.
short term and ongoing

In its 2008 survey, Vision 2030 asked residents to name


FUNDING

Desired outcome

Support, encourage, and foster funding efforts that will sustain the values of public open space and agriculture as they relate to the preservation of the character of our valley.



Possible interest groups/stewards

City/county planning and elected officials; landowners and local citizens, local non-profits and programs; local agricultural and open space groups; economic councils, chambers; retailers, resort management companies; organizations such as cultural heritage tourism; Community Agriculture Alliance; Main Street program; corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and private donors; U.S. Forest Service; Bureau of Land Management; Colorado Department of Wildlife; CSU Routt County Extension and other agricultural entities

Recommended actions Timeframe
  • Create an endowment fund for administration of local non-profit agencies and programs (such as Community Agriculture Alliance, Yampatika, Yampa Valley Land Trust, and other agricultural entities (e.g.: Funding for the arts model from Strings)).
long term
  • Identify collaborative partnerships from agricultural/public open space groups so that available funds can be better used.
ongoing
  • Develop and implement collaborative partnerships that recognize and market the “value of the view” and sustain agriculture by creating a regional agriculture, working landscapes and public open space fund.
short term and ongoing
  • Consider use tax, voluntary “checkoff” donations, grant funding and other mechanisms to be used for public open space and agricultural sustainability.
short term and ongoing
  • Brand the “going green” appeal for agriculture and western heritage (ag-tourism, working landscapes, value of the view).
short term and ongoing
  • Create adoption programs for agriculture and public open space.
short term and ongoing
  • Implement a consumption tax for excessive home sizes and part-time residency.
mid term and ongoing
  • Expanded funding for federal, state and local agencies.
mid term and ongoing