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By Randy Hampton
Special to The SUN
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking nominations for the Wildlife Landowner of the Year Award given out annually to recognize outstanding contributions made by private landowners who provide wildlife habitat and public access for fishing and hunting.
The recipient will be honored with an awards ceremony and banquet in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show in January. The winner will also be recognized during the National Western Stock Show Rodeo. Nominations for the award must be submitted by Dec. 20.
“More than four of every 10 acres in Colorado is in agricultural production,” said Ken Morgan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Private Lands Program Manager. “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 first Wildlife Landowner of the Year Award was handed out in 1982 as a part of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Landowner Recognition Program. The program highlights the role of private land management and recognizes landowners who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in wildlife conservation and sound management principles.
Colorado’s unique combination of natural resources such as wildlife, agriculture and natural gas, and recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing and backcountry exploration, make the collaboration between public and private landowners a necessary boon. The state’s 23 million acres of public and private lands are critical to maintaining populations of mule deer, pronghorn, elk, sage-grouse, prairie falcons and a host of grassland species including the lark bunting, Colorado’s state bird.
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 selected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife based on a range of criteria, including current 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.
The nomination form and guidelines for submissions may be found on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website.
Nominations must be received by Colorado Parks and Wildlife no later than the close of business on Dec. 20. Award winners will be notified by Jan. 6. Attendance by the winner at the award banquet on Jan. 22 is required.