What if livestock could be managed and contained with minimal fencing on the landscape?
Sustainable rangeland management has been shown effective through carefully planned prescribed grazing that manages livestock herds and grazing periods. Virtual fencing has been proven successful in pilot studies outside the US on prescribed grazing rotations in simpler terrain such as grasslands. It is shown to be effective in rotating or excluding cattle from sensitive areas such as riparian or vegetation treatment zones, improving soil health and optimizing carbon sequestration potential.
The District’s goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of using virtual fencing to manage livestock herds in the challenging terrain present in the mountains of western Colorado. This project will be a test of the application of this innovative technology for the conservation of wildlife habitat and soil health.
Natural resource benefits of prescribed grazing include:
At this time, the Eagle County Conservation has been awarded the CIG Grant and is looking for EQIP eligible Agriculture participants!
This project is an incredible opportunity to participate in an innovative technology that is a representation of future management in local conservational rangelands. Please reach out with any questions, we look forward to working with you!
No one knows better than farm operators and landowners how important it is to conserve our nutrient-rich soils and clean water sources.
Conservation-minded production is a perfect set of goals. When we protect our farm and rangeland from runoff and erosion, we are investing in a better future:
Following principles of soil health management, S.T.A.R. is a field-by-field evaluation tool driven by the latest science and farmer expertise. It takes only a few minutes to identify your conservation strengths and where you could improve based on your personal goals for your operation.
S .T.A.R.’s evaluation system is simple to use and understand yet detailed enough to give you meaningful results. S.T.A.R. assigns points for each activity on an individual field: cropping, tillage, nutrient application, stocking rates and more. The Science Committee - made up of agriculture experts and experienced practitioners - regularly update the practices included, the points, and ranking system. Those with conservation practices best aligned with principles of soil health management receive the highest point values. Each participant will receive a S.T.A.R. rating between 1 and 5 stars for your field, with a 5 marking the highest score. The ECCD will be implement the S.T.A.R. Program over the following 3 years with 6 selected participants.
Eagle County CoAgMet Station
The District installed Eagle County's first CoAgMet station in the fall of 2017, but what exactly is a CoAgMet station and what can it do?
The following is a description straight from our partner Colorado State University (CSU):
"COlorado AGricultural Meteorological nETwork — COAGMET
In the early 1990's, two groups on the Colorado State campus, the Plant Pathology extension specialists and USDA's Agricultural Research Service Water Management Unit, discovered that they had a mutual interest in collecting localized weather data in irrigated agricultural area. Plant pathology used the data for prediction of disease outbreaks in high value crops such as onions and potatoes, and ARS used almost the same information to provide irrigation scheduling recommendations.
To leverage their resources, these two formed an informal coalition, and invited others in the ag research community to provide input into the kinds and frequency of measurements that would be most useful to a broad spectrum of agricultural customers. A standardized set of instruments was selected, a standard datalogger program was developed, and a fledgling network of some eight stations was established in major irrigated areas of eastern Colorado. As interest grew and funds were made available, primarily from potential users, more stations were added.
Initially, stations were located near established phone service to allow daily collection of data. Soon, cellular phone service began to become widely available, and the group determined that this methodology was a reliable and inexpensive method of data recovery. Commercial software was used to download data from the growing list of stations shortly after midnight to a USDA-ARS computer, from which it was then distributed to interested users via answering machine, automated FAX and satellite downlink (Data Transmission Network).
As the network grew, Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State became interested in these data, and subsequently took over the daily data collection and quality assessment. CCC added internet delivery and a wide range of data delivery options, and continues to improve the user interface in response to a growing interest in these data" (Colostate.edu).
To learn more about CoAgMet stations visit: http://coagmet.colostate.edu/
The Eagle River Community Water Plan (ERCWP) is a cooperative water management plan that involves multiple stakeholders within Colorado. The goal of this plan is to provide proactive recommendations to anticipated local hydrological changes due to population growth and increased water demand, climate change and projects related to the Eagle River MOU.
The main purpose of the Eagle County Conservation District's (ECCD) involvement in the ERCWP is to advise when applicable and to represent our local constituents. In order to best represent our constituents, ECCD strides to continue our efforts in providing updates and assistance to any project, legislation, policies, etc. that affect our local agricultural members.
For more information on the progress of the ERCWP please check out the Eagle River Watershed Council's website at http://www.erwc.org/. Also check the Vail Daily for public meeting locations and times.
The District has received funds to install a second CoAgMet Station, which will ideally be located at Brush Creek Valley Ranch & Open Space. Since this project is still in its infancy, the installation of the second CoAgMet Station won't occur and be finalized until 2019. Check back for more updates or visit http://evlt.org/another-1540-acres-conserved-forever/ for more information.
Designating Deep Creek as a Wild and Scenic destination is also in its infancy. The Eagle County Conservation District's Board Members have recently met with members of the Eagle River Watershed Council and American Rivers to discuss the impacts on the agricultural community. The District has been told that current practices will remain and this designation will not have a negative impact to nearby ranchers. For more information on Wild & Scenic Rivers visit https://www.americanrivers.org/2018/01/wild-scenic-rivers-moment-now/.