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Summer 2015 MPCD Newsletter                                                  View this email in your Web Browser

Summer 2015 News

 

Summer Seeding, Sage Grouse Habitat Tour, New SGI Biologist, Gardening Tips, Summit Noxious Weed Workshop, Hay Day 2015, Wildland FireTriage List, Micro Hydropower, Colorado BQA, Herbicide Giveaways, Noxious WeedID Tools, Drought-Be-Gone

 

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Contact the  Middle Park Conservation District at anytime by calling the office at 970.724.3456 or Katlin's cell at 970.531.0127.
 

Summer Seeding

Now that summer is finally here, some of you might be thinking about seeding bare spots around your property.  If so, MPCD has the seed you're looking for.  We stock several different seed mixes that were specially developed, by our very own NRCS District Conservationist, to flourish in Middle Park.  If by chance we don't have exactly what you are looking for, we can special order anything from one of our many seed distributors.   Our stocked mixes are listed below...
  • Short Mix for drought tolerant reclamation around structures
  • Dryland Pasture for dry pastures where you desire to graze livestock
  • Irrigated Meadow for actively irrigated hayground
  • Forest Mix for previously logged forests or areas with a with a little more moisture
  • Dura Turf for a nice looking lawn
  • Mountain Wildflower Mix for a splash of color
  • Purple Top Turnips for wildlife forage
  • Ladak and Forager Alfalfa for a nitrogen-fixing legume to improve forage quality and soil conditions
Remember, filling in bare ground and sparsely vegetative areas with desirable seed mixes, is very beneficial.  Prevention of weed encroachment and added soil stability are two such benefits. 
 
Because all seeds need ample moisture to germinate and establish, the timing of seeding should ideally correlate with seasonal rains, especially if irrigation is not feasible.  Thus, the ideal summer seeding window is late July to early August, during the summer monsoons.   
 
Contact us with questions: 970.724.3456
 
Sage Grouse Habitat Treatment Tour
on July 1st

The Middle Park Habitat Treatment tour of BLM and private lands will take place on Wednesday, July 1st.  The tour is open to anyone with an interest in sage grouse. 

We will meet at the at the Extension Hall in Kremmling at 8:30am.  Plan to be in the field all day, so bring both lunch and water.  We will try to car pool as much as possible. The tour is expected to end at the Extension Office no later than 3pm. 

Contact Michelle Cowardin, of Colorado Parks and Wildfire, for more information at 970.531.7373.
There's a Sage Grouse New Guy in Town!

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has hired Donn Slusher to replace Noah Bates as the Sage Grouse Initiative biologist in Grand and Jackson Counties. 

  Donn was born in Colorado and has lived, worked and enjoyed being on ranches. He worked on a horse and hay ranch, as well as several guest ranches. On the guest ranches, his jobs were: taking people on horseback rides and taking guests on day trips or week long trips on the continental divide. He also guided fishermen and big game hunters and took people on nature hikes where he could teach people about the outdoor environment.  Donn has always had a strong passion for the outdoors.  He enjoys all outdoor activities, including flyfishing, archery, biggame hunting, shooting, horseback riding, hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and outdoor photography. He has been an instructor of outdoor skills, archery, cross-country skiing, horsepacking, fly tying, flyfishing and outdoor ecology. Donn lived in Montana for 15 years and worked as a seasonal for the United States Forest Service doing forest health, sampling, habitat evaluation, and fire fuel analysis. He also worked in some of the most remote and wild places in Montana, southern British Columbia, Idaho and the deserts of Utah.

Donn recently graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor degree in RangeIand Ecology/ Restoration. He says that he is really looking forward to living and working in Kremmling, especially after living in the big city of Fort Collins for six years. As mentioned above, Donn will be working for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, out of the Kremmling NRCS office, on Sage Grouse habitat

If you have questions about sage grouse and their habitat, or have questions about the Sage Grouse Initiative, contact Donn at the NRCS/MPCD Office by calling 970.724.3456.
Mountain Gardening Tips
Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet no. 7.248

Summer is often associated with fresh produce and farmers markets, but instead of going to the grocery store or market to get your fresh produce, why not grow it yourself?

CSU Extension has a great article on Vegetable Gardening in the Mountains by Irene Shonle.  The link at the bottom of this article will take you to the full CSU article, but to see the main highlights, read on...
  1. Of the warm season vegetables, bush beans and summer squash are the most likely to succeed.
  2.  Cool season vegetables recommendations are...
    • Leafy greens: lettuces, arugula, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mâche, collards, cabbage, endive, radicchio, turnip greens, beet greens, garden cress;
    • Root vegetables: carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, potatoes, leeks;
    • Other vegetables: peas, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts;
    • Herbs:
      • French tarragon, horseradish, some mints, and chives.
      • Sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, bay laurel can be grown in pots and brought in for the winter.
      • Annual herbs that can be direct-seeded in beds include parsley, dill, calendula, and borage.  
      • Consider growing basil and cilantro in a pot in a warm, sunny location and putting them inside at night or covering them.
    • The easiest option for tomatoes is to plant  in a pot, putting it outside each morning in a sunny, protected location and bringing it in at night.
  3. Find a site that gets 6-8 hours of full sun per day. A south-facing, slightly sloped area is ideal.  Try to plant close to the house or a rock wall so the plants can benefit from the thermal mass.
  4. Compost and aged manure are the best soil amendments to add, incorporating 1 inch per every 4 inches of soil depth.
  5. Raised beds will warm up more quickly in the springtime than in-ground beds and are a good option when the ground is too rocky to dig. Alternatively, pile the soil in the bed so it is south-sloping.
  6. Floating row covers are lightweight, spun polyester fabrics allow sun and rain in, don’t need venting, provide frost protection down to 24° F, and will help keep out insects and critters such as rabbits and deer.  They are a good way to gain a couple weeks of growing on either side of the season.
  7. Place hardware cloth (1/4” metal mesh) beneath beds to keep voles and pocket gophers out
  8. If row covers are not used, a two foot tall fence of 1” mesh squares with the bottom buried 6” in the ground will keep cottontail rabbits out, and snap traps can be used on mice and voles. If you find you require a fence for deer, it should be a minimum of 8’ high, or a double fence—two 4’ high fences placed 4’ apart
  9. Check soil moisture regularly. Irrigate when the top 2-4” of soil is dry to the touch rather than on a strict schedule.
  10. If you have a well (not municipal water) which was drilled after May 2, 1972, and your property is less than 35 acres, you may not have any outdoor water rights. Check your well permit to see what type of well permit you have. (‘Household Use Only’ means there are no outdoor water rights while ‘Domestic Use’ means you can water up to an acre).
  11. If you do not have outdoor water rights, locate the garden bed under the drip line of the house or near a downspout and dig a pit 20- 24” deep. Line the pit with ¼” hardware cloth (to keep animals out), then line again with 6 ml plastic.
  12. Many of the cool season vegetables will mature in 25-60 days such as lettuce, spinach, and radishes. In order to prevent a glut of any vegetable (which may then bolt and turn bitter or tough), plant smaller amounts every two weeks or so in a method called ‘succession planting’.
  13. Another space-and-water-saving recommendation is to plant in blocks, rather than rows.
Noxious Weed Workshop-July 17th
 
The Middle Park Conservation District is once again partnering with the Summit County Weed Department and Summit County Extension Office to host another
 
Noxious Weed Workshop
Summit County Community and Senior Center
Friday, July 17th from 10am-2pm
Cost: $10 (includes lunch)

 Topics to be discussed include:
  • Noxious Weeds vs. Common Weeds
  • Weeds and their Lookalikes
  • Means of Control
  • Reseeding
  • Sprayer Calibration
AND THE BEST PART IS...Bring a sack of noxious weeds (not dandelions) that you've pulled off your property, and you'll receive a baggy of reclamation/wildflower seed in return!
 

Please register by calling Katlin at 970.531.0127 no later than Monday, July 13th. 

Weed Workshop Flyer
Hay Day 2015--July 8th

This year’s Hay Day is hosted by North Park Conservation District, North Park NRCS, and Jackson County Extension.  It will be held on...

Wednesday, July 8th from 9am – 4pm at Grizzly Ranch, 10 miles southwest of Walden on Highway 14. 
 
Morning Talks will begin at 9am and feature:

  • Joe Brummer, CSU Associate Professor, speaking on Meadow Management, Water Management, Fertility, Species Improvement, and Hay Testing
  • Alan Berryman, Assistant General Manager for Northern Water, discussing the Platte River Implementation Program and how water decrees/agreements affect water users
  • Derrick Wyle, NRCS, talking about Soil Health and Biology regarding hay quality and quantity.    

Lunch is provided by North Park Stockgrowers and Cattlewomen

Equipment Demonstrations begin in the afternoon at 1pm.
 
Please RSVP for lunch by July 3rd by calling 970-723-4724
 
Hay day is FREE, so take a little drive  and enjoy this fun,  educational event.

Wildland Fire Triage Checklist
Written By Brad White of Grand Fire, appeared in Sky-Hi News on May 20, 2015.

The five Fire Districts’ and the US Forest Service’s crews extinguish approximately fifty wildland fire starts (on average) every year in Grand County. Even with the wet spring we are experiencing this year, three fires have already been extinguished. Our local crews respond quickly and work hard, keeping most wildland fires under one acre.  The question is, what happens on those rare incidents when fires can’t be stopped on initial attack? These incidents may require evacuations, additional crews and additional resources to be ordered.  As conditions change and deteriorate, strategies will change and fire managers will start looking ahead at where the fire is going and what properties lie in its path. 

In many cases of large wildland-urban interface fires, crews with clipboards will be sent to the neighborhoods to triage houses.  It will be their job to determine if it is safe for crews to work in the community when the fire gets there. They will analyze what houses are likely to survive a flame front or an ember shower and which ones will require additional preparation and work.  Will crews be able to stay in the area and “hold” the ground, or will they need to pull out of the subdivision and return after the fire passes through?  Is one house easily defensible while the neighbor’s house is an unsafe place to stay?

These decisions can be difficult to make in the heat of the moment and are often made by crews who are not familiar with the area.  Crews assigned to Triage often work from a checklist to determine if a house can be saved with no work, a little work, or more work than fire suppression crews will have time to do.  They move though the neighborhoods assigning each address a green, yellow, red, or black triage rating.
  
  • GREEN homes need no work and are likely to stand on their own, and are often considered “safe” areas for crews.
  • YELLOW homes are considered defensible, and with ten to fifteen minutes of work can be held, with crews remaining at the house.
  • RED homes take the same fifteen minutes of work to prep, but will likely be unsafe for crews,  so they will pull back as the flames near, returning after the main fire front passes.
  • BLACK homes will not be defensible with the time allotted and can be an extremely dangerous place for crews to remain.
You can triage your own home ahead of time to get an idea of what crews will be looking for.  Some factors such as topography can’t be remedied. Is your house within 30 feet of a 20% slope? Is it within 50 feet of a 40% slope? Are there above ground power lines within 30 feet of the house?  Add up how many times you answered “YES”.

Other factors can be mitigated during construction or remodel projects. Does your house have a combustible roof? Does it have untreated wood shake shingles? Do you have an elevated deck that is not protected or has open storage underneath?  Is your driveway long, 200 feet or more? Does it dead end at the house? Add the YES’s again.

Other items can be taken care of in a short weekend.  Are tree limbs overhanging your roof?  Is there excessive brush or low lying limbs within 30 feet of the house?  Is there a vehicle parked within 30 feet of the house?

Now add up all of the YES’s. How many do you have? If you have
two or less, you’re doing pretty well and your home gets a “Green” tag and could be protected from fire with minimal work.  Up to five YES’s and it could be prepped and held by crews with the allotted time, getting a “Yellow” tag.  A “Red” tag will have six or seven YES’s and your home will not only need a lot of work, but crews will be unable to stay in the area during the fire. They will need to return when it is safe to put out any remaining fires. When eight or more YES’s are totaled, a “Black” tag is given and crews will not likely spend any time at the house, but will return after the fire to extinguish any remaining fires and assess damage to the home.

Heavy winds or extreme fire behavior can bump up your count a few points, and if crews feel your driveway is too steep to safely access your home, they may go straight to a “black” tag.  Remember, crews often are limited on time and may only have an hour or two to look at 30 homes.  A neighborhood with mostly “Green” and “Yellow” homes may require only a few engines to defend, while neighborhoods with primarily “Red” and “Black” labels will require a lot of manpower to prepare the community for the upcoming firefight, and there may not be enough time or resources to get it done.

Take a few minutes one afternoon and assess your own home and property and see what you can learn.  Look for some simple projects you can do to improve from “Red” to “Yellow”, or better yet, to “Green”. Even more beneficial, get a few neighbors together and make a day of it.

Your home’s survivability may very well depend on what actions your neighbors have taken to mitigate their wildfire hazards. If you have questions, contact your local fire department. They are more than happy to come out, walk through your property with you, and make recommendations. Firefighters would rather visit with you and make recommendations NOW, than to triage your neighborhood for the first time with the pressure of smoke and flames advancing on them.

Micro Hydropower

By: Deb Wood, MPCD Board Supervisor
 
Have you watched your irrigation water run down your ditch and wondered if you could harness the energy and utilize it for another purpose? 

Well, now there is a way to do just that.  The technology is called micro-hydropower.  Small scale electric generation has come a long way in the past 15-20 years.  Many of the components that have been developed for wind and photovoltaic generation are applicable to micro-hydropower as well.  When you think hydropower, think in terms of volume of flow and available pressure (aka head).  The amount of power available is a function of these two factors.  Volume is measured in gallons per minute or cubic feet per minute.  Pressure is typically measured as the potential height of fall or feet of head.  For example, a flow of 1cfs falling 10 feet is the equivalent of approximately 1 horsepower.  One horsepower equates to 746 watts of electrical energy.  If the water flows for 24 hours, 17,900 watt hours is generated or 17.9 KwH. Flowing for 30 days 537 KwH is available.  For reference, a typical single family home consumes 1100 Kwh per month.  Therefore, micro generation can be significant.
Two recent changes to legal constraints have also made micro-hydropower generation more feasible.  First, Federal FIRC regulations that formerly presented a costly review have been suspended for micro generating systems.  Secondly, Colorado water rights rules have been modified to recognize the non-consumptive use of generation.  In general, for the water rights to be used for generation, you must own the property through which the water flows.  This is because micro-generation generally involves diversion from the water source (stream depletion), with the diverted water re-introduced at a lower point.  By controlling the property that is affected by the temporary depletion, no other water users or property owners are affected.
Lastly, the NRCS EQIP granting rules have been modified that allow for these funds to be used to encourage micro-hydro generation projects.  Mark Volt, NRCS District Conservationist, recently attended a training seminar on micro-hydro projects. 
If you are interested in the potential please contact Mark at 970.724.3456.
Here is a link that may help you decide if a project may be right for you:


http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/micro-hydro-power-pros-and-cons/ .

Colorado Beef Quality Assurance Program

Information taken directly from CSU Animal Science BQA website

"The Beef Quality Assurance Program’s mission is to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the producer’s attention to daily production practices that influence the safety, wholesomeness and quality of beef and beef products.

Why Participate?

  • Better management decisions mean increased profit
  • Help maintain consumer confidence
  • Help eliminate carcass defects
  • Keep updated on beef industry changes
  • Record keeping allows for better decisions
  • Open premium market opportunities
  • And it is the right thing to do!

The Importance of BQA

BQA has been developed to ensure that beef and dairy cattle are managed in a manner that will result in safe and wholesome beef. The Program is also designed to enhance carcass quality by preventing drug residues, injection-site blemishes, and bruises. All sectors of the industry—from cow-calf to stocker operators, backgrounders, cattle feeders, and points of sale and harvest—must take responsibility for the production of a safe food product through proper animal care, handling, and management practices.

Why is BQA necessary?

A rise in concern for food safety and wholesomeness has caused a shift in consumer preferences. (See Table 1) The BQA is the foundation of providing consumers with hard evidence that shows what is good for the animal, is also good for the producer. The program has created a way to demonstrate and document producer practices by uniting all sectors in taking responsibility to continue to provide a safe, nutritious beef product for consumers."

bqachart

Grand County Extension Director, Travis Hoesli, can certify local producers in BQA, so if you have questions about the program or certification, contact Travis at 970.724.3436.

Herbicide Giveaways in Grand and Summit

 
Both Grand and Summit County Weed Departments have herbicide giveaway programs to assist local landowners with weed control programs.

In Grand County, the small acreage herbicide giveaway takes place at the Department of Natural Resources Office in Granby (4th and Topaz) on Fridays from 9 am - 12 noon.  Individuals must bring their own backpack sprayer with a max capacity of 4 gallons.  Staff will fill up up with the appropriate herbicide for your weed control needs.  Weekly giveaways will continue through September 11th but will not occur on 4th of July or Labor Day weekends.  Contact Grand County DNR with questions.  970.887.0745

Summit County has two different programs.  The Backpack Loaner Program is for small acreage landowners, whereas the Cost-Share Program is for large acreage properties.  Small acreage folk can borrow a Backpack sprayer from the Weed Department by calling
Tom LaFleur at (970) 668-4252.  Tom will discuss your needs and give you the appropriate herbicide.  Then, you just return the backpack when your done.  Large acreage landowners can apply for cost-share funds up to $500 to help control priority weed species on their properties.  To download the application, click the link below.  Contact Summit Weed Department with questions.  970.668.4218

http://www.co.summit.co.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/417

Noxious Weed Identification Tools

 
Have a weed you need to identify or know a name of a weed but not know what it looks like?

Th Colorado Weed Management Association has two great tools to help you figure out what you've got. 

This link helps you figure out a weed from its identifying characteristics.

http://weedid.wisc.edu/co/weedid.php 

This link shows you photos of weeds based on the scientific or common name. 

http://weedid.wisc.edu/co/databasesearch.php
Drought-Be-Gone in Grand County

According to the most recent Drought report on June 16, 2015, the drought conditions for Grand County is "None".  As late as May 19th, Grand County had been deemed "Abnormally Dry". 

This does not, however, mean that downstream users in Arizona and California are as well off as Colorado.  According to speakers at the recent State of the Water meeting in Granby, the extra water we are receiving here in Colorado is a 'drop in the bucket' compared to the big picture for the Colorado River system.  Lake Powell and Lake Mead are still far below normal.

Click here to see the most recent Drought Map of Colorado

Click here to see the most recent Drought Map of the Entire USA


Click here to read a news report from 9news on Lake Mead

Click here to read more about Lake Powell conditions

 
The content of this newsletter is for Educational Purposes ONLY.  We have attempted to site opinions, beliefs and viewpoints from various sources and professionals.  These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Middle Park Conservation District or its Board of Supervisors/Employees.  It is always recommended that you seek independent advice before implementing new management practices.
Copyright © 2015 Middle Park Conservation District, All rights reserved.


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