"Wild"Life at the HPR
Speaking of balancing habitat, our environment and nature, on Friday Urs and I had a meeting with some federal agency officials to review a conservation plan. I pointed out how we would want to balance the interests of our native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Painter Creek with the Sage Grouse in the upland areas along Painter Creek. I was then given a review of the habitat of the threatened Sage Grouse. I noted that when I awoke on Friday morning at our ranch and looked outside I noticed on our front lawn that there were 11 young Sage Grouse grubbing for food on our domestic Kentucky Bluegrass lawn! It was clear that they had also been living underneath our deck. I saw the Sage Grouse two more times over the weekend, once in the front yard again and once in the sage brush (their normal habitat) behind our home. Just when we think that we've got a wildlife or fowl habitat figured out, reality trumps science. It should be noted that with environmental groups using the Sage Grouse as an excuse to restrict or remove cattle grazing on public lands, our experience in the last 10 years is that with our cattle numbers not decreasing the Sage Grouse population, mostly on lower deeded lands, is up significantly.
I also need to relate an experience Urs and I had with federal government representatives working on our conservation plan (associated with EQUIP cost sharing for improvements to protect species and be more efficient in grazing) that we had the threatened Westslope Cutthroat Trout in both Painter Creek and Browns Canyon Creek. One of the young government employees (logically) thought that all of the Weslope Cutthroat Trout were on the "west slope". I reminded her that the Westslope Cutthroat Trout did something that Lewis and Clark couldn't.......they crossed the Great Divide without horses!
We saw hundreds of elk again on this trip. They were on the hills above Watson Creek on BLM lands. They looked magnificent against the "white" mountains.