MPCD Fall 2013 Newsletter
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Fall 2013 Eco-BiTs

Fall is finally starting to show its face here in Middle Park.  The leaves are just beginning to change and erratic weather patterns are a definite sign of seasonal changes. I hope this newsletter makes for some educational reading on a rainy afternoon or evening.

Inside this issue of MPCD Eco-BiTs: 

Call to ActionSage Grouse Public Meeting, New and Improved Website, Save Manual Snow Surveys, Fall Seeding, Tree Seedling Sale, Conservationist of the Year, Fall Fertilizing, Weeds of the Week & Fall Herbicide Application, Water Law in a Nutshell Workshop, Protein & Energy Supplements, Hay & Soil Testing, Ask Mark

Please be sure to click 'Display Images Below'  at the top of your email browser to get the full effect of our newsletter!

Call to Action

The Middle Park Conservation District is looking to publish different newsletters for our different sectors of constituents.  Our goal with these interest-specific newsletters is to relay information that is most pertinent to YOU. For example, we would have a specific newsletter for 'Ag Producers' relating to hay and livestock production.  A different newsletter would focus on 'Small Acreage Management' for smaller landowners.  Lastly, a 'Natural Resources Law' Newsletter would highlight Colorado Laws governing natural resources.  

Please click on the link below to subscribe to the different newsletters that most interest you.  You may subscribe to more than one newsletter if you'd like.

For those of you who have already subscribed to one or more of these newsletters, THANK YOU.  You do not need to do it again.

We hope to have these interest-specific newsletters replace our general quartly newsletters starting in January.

Subscriber to Our Newsletters

Sage Grouse Public Meeting

You are invited to a Greater sage-grouse public meeting that will be held at the CSU Extension Hall in Kremmling on the evening of Wednesday October 2, from 6:30 - 8:30pm.  

The purpose of the meeting is to inform residents of Grand County that the BLM Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is available for public comment and to provide information on Colorado Parks and Wildlife's (CPW) role as a cooperating agency.  

The EIS is open for public comment period through 
November 14th.

The meeting is hosted by CPW and the Middle Park Greater Sage-Grouse Working Group.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

New and Improved Website

Please check out the New and Improved Middle Park Conservation District Website at  We have added lots of resources about rangelands, grazing, forestry issues and trees, weeds, water resources, and wildlife.  If you have a question, you can probably find the answer on our website.  If you don’t find the answer, call us at the office (970.724.3456) and we’ll answer it for you.

Save Manual Snow Surveys!

Due to budget constraints at the federal level, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is currently in the process of prioritizing its services and deciding which services could be downsized or cut from the program.

Our office recently received a letter notifying us that the Manual Snow Course Surveys may be one of those services that is downsized or cut from the 2014 budget.  These Snow Surveys are the ones that Mark does monthly throughout the winter and reports back to you in the newspaper, online, and in our newsletters.  

We realize that data collected from these surveys are looked at and used by many people in our communities.  Many ranchers, for example, look at these data for insight into spring runoff and summer hay production potential.  Winter snow pack may also determine cost effectiveness of seeding and fertilizer application.  Winter and summer recreationists alike may also use this information to decide whether to go out for a back-country ski trip or if river flows are high enough for summer rafting excursions.

The NRCS is asking for public input on the importance of Manual Snow Course Surveys.  You may voice your opinion by attending one of their Public Comment Meetings or by writing a letter to them.  Click here to read the NRCS letter disclosing the possible discontinuation of Snow Surveys and for information on Public Comment Options.  

The Middle Park Conservation District Board of Directors is planning to submit a letter on behalf of our constituents.  Click here to read our letter.  

If you would like to electronically sign a petition to 'Save Manual Snow Course Surveys', click the button below. 
Save Manual Snow Surveys Petition

Fall Seeding:  Good Time for Dryland Pasture, Wildflower, Forest, and Short Mixes

Providing that we do not get an early permanent snowpack, planting grass seed in the fall is a good idea for dryland pasture, wildflower, and forest mixes. 

Ideally, the seed should be sown right before the permanent snow pack is on the ground, or when it’s gotten cold enough to prevent germination (consistent soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s important that the seed not germinate and then get frozen. We typically suggest waiting as long as possible and not before October 15th. Rough up the soil with a rake or similar tool. Scatter seed and cover with approximately 1/4 inch of soil. Then cover that with a layer of light mulch, such as straw or compost.

 The Middle Park Conservation District has several seed mixes available for purchase. The Forest Mix is good for areas where beetle kill trees have been removed. The Brome/Pubescent Mix is good for soil erosion prevention and is also good forage for livestock. Our Short Mix is ideal for disturbed areas around buildings.  We also have a wildflower mix that has both perennials and annuals in it.  Encouraging grasses and wildflowers to grow in disturbed areas will help prevent soil erosion and noxious weed 
Due to the dry conditions and wildfires this summer, grass seed prices have gone up. Our prices may not be the same as they were at the beginning of the season, so please call our office for prices and availability. 970.724.3456

Click here to get more info on our grass seed mixes.

Tree Seedlings Now Available For Sale

The Middle Park Conservation District is once again offering tree seedlings for sale to landowners wishing to conserve their properties.  Seedlings are grown at the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery in Fort Collins and can be purchased in bulk for really low prices.   Seedlings come in packages of 4, 25, 30, or 50 trees and range in size from 5 inches to 14 inches tall.  You can choose from over 60 different options!

Tree seedlings can be utilized for a variety of conservation projects.  They can help stabilize soil on barren ground or steep slopes; reestablish logged forests; or grow up to be living windbreaks for livestock or households. 

Tree seedlings will be available for purchase through the Middle Park Conservation District until next spring; however, some species in particular sell out quickly.  Thus, it is best to order sooner rather than later.  All trees will be delivered in May 2014.

The Colorado State Forest Service has also removed its minimum acreage requirement, so landowners of all shapes and sizes are welcome!

Click here to download the 2014 Order Form

Now Accepting ‘Conservationist of the Year’ Nominations

The Middle Park Conservation District is now accepting nominations for our ‘Conservationist of the Year’ award to be presented at our Annual Dinner in late February or early March. 

Nominees should be landowners in Grand or Summit Counties that have performed significant conservation improvements on their properties or promote conservation ideals in other mediums.  We accept nominations from anyone and everyone, including self nominations. 

Please fill out the nomination form below and return to our office by
December 31, 2013.  

Conservationist of the Year Nomination Form

Reminder:  Fall Fertilizing May Be Better than Spring Fertilizing

You may remember that I wrote an article in my Mid-Summer NewsBrief about Fall Fertilizing.  I just wanted to remind you about the key points in case you forgot…

1)      Nitrogen and Phosphorus are typically the two most limiting nutrients in the soil. If any one nutrient is too limiting, it may hinder plant growth and production, thus reducing your net yield. Nitrogen is often added to increase grass production, while Phosphorus promotes legumes. That being said, if Phosphorus is deficient in your soils, it may also limit grass growth.
2)      Several studies on fertilizers suggest that the net pay off is almost always positive (meaning that the producer always made money from fertilizing and never lost any money).  Nevertheless, the amount of profit you make may vary with the type of fertilizer you use (Ammonium Nitrate vs. Urea) and climatic factors.  In speaking with Junior from Frontier Station out of Craig, Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer is better than Urea because it is less volatile and does not evaporate or leach as easily as Urea. You also have a larger window for application of Ammonium Nitrate and can apply it under dry conditions.
3)      Mark Volt, District Conservationist for the NRCS Kremmling Field Office, says that fall vs. spring fertilizer applications yield similar results as far as grass growth and productivity in Middle Park. However, because Phosphorus takes longer to dissolve and move into the soil, Mark suggests that fall is better for Phosphorus application.  If applying fertilizer in the fall, you want to fertilize when soil temperatures consistently drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and plants are dormant. This typically happens after October 1st-15th.
4)      Thus, it comes down to a personal preference and fertilizer type as to whether you opt for fall or spring application. Factors to consider are cost, availability of fertilizer buggies, and time constraints. You may find that fertilizer buggies may be easier to get in the fall and you may have more time on your hands. According to Junior, costs of fertilizer also are expected to be about 10% less in the fall than they were this spring.

WOW: Weeds of the Week &
Fall Herbicide Application

Our two Weeds of the Week this issue are both listed as List B Species under the Colorado Noxious Weed List.  List B species are identified by the State as weeds of concern in which weed management should be implemented to stop their spread.  I chose these two weeds because they are still in their active growth stages and can be controlled with fall herbicide application.
Canada Thistle, Cirsium arvense L. Scop., is a perennial thistle that spreads by horizontal roots called rhizomes.  Its small pale purple flowers and smooth stem distinguish Canada thistle from other species of thistle found around Middle Park.  Click here for an identification chart for common thistles.  

Canada thistle is hard to control due to its rhizomatous nature.  Tillage of roots is ineffective and even promotes its spread.  Canada thistle also has hardy leaves that can withstand frost conditions into late fall.  Milestone is an effective herbicide on Canada thistle and can be applied as long as the plant is green. (Weeds of the West 9th Edition, 2002)
Oxeye Daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum L., is also a perennial that is interconnected by rhizomes.  The flowers are pretty and white, but they are no friend to natives.  Unlike mayweed chamomile, Oxeyes have singular, unbranched stems with dark, lobed and serrated leaves.  There is only one flower head at the top of the stem.  If left untreated, thick colonies will form in fields, disturbed areas, and along roadsides.  Like Canada thistle, Milestone also works on Oxeye daisies.  When looking for oxeye daisies this time of year, you may not find flowers in full bloom.  This is most likely the case in mowed hayfields where the daisies are just starting to grow again.  Instead, look for their rosettes.  (Weeds of the West 9th Edition, 2002)
Lastly, if you are looking to spur weed growth this fall in order to subsequently apply herbicide, you may consider turning your irrigation water back on.  Canada thistle and Oxeye daisies will grow more quickly and be more detectible when ready to spray them.

For more information on weed management, click here.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

'Water Law in a Nutshell' Workshop

You may remember back in May that the Middle Park Conservation District hosted a 'Water Law in a Nutshell' Workshop.  It was a huge success and received great reviews from attendees.

We are looking to host another identical workshop for those whose could not attend last time.  The date has not been set. However, once we get at least 20 people interested, we will coordinate a date that works for all.

Click here for more information on subject matters discussed at the workshop.  It is a full day workshop, costs $50, and includes lunch. Continuing education credits are offered for Realtors and CFMs.

Call 970.724.3456, or email, for more information.  

Protein & Energy Supplements:
Are they Necessary?

Source:  Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, Dr. David Lalman, OSU

       In the two previous newsletters I identified the six essential nutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Minerals, Vitamins, and Water) and spoke about limiting nutrients (Nitrogen & Phosphorus) in your hay.  Today, I am speaking about protein and energy supplements.  As we approach the winter months, many people start questioning whether or not they should supplement their livestock with high energy or high protein supplements.  The answer really comes down to your hay quality and the physiological status of the animals you’re feeding (i.e. growing, gestation, lactating, or maintenance). 
      Beef cattle require a minimum of 7% crude protein in their diet to keep the rumen bugs alive and working.  Below that percentage, digestion slows and the animal gets less nutrition out of every bite.  Thus, technically, as long as your hay has 7% protein or higher, your livestock does not need a protein supplement to keep the gut working.  However, due to physiological demands of keeping warm during cold winter nights and changes in fetal growth throughout the pregnancy, higher protein and energy levels are often needed to maintain body weight and promote fetal development (especially in the third trimester).  Heifers, steers, and yearlings also require added protein and energy to support growth. 
     David Lalman, Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University and author of Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle E-974, suggests that crude protein requirement for beef cows can range from 7.1% to 7.9% during gestation, and up to 10.6% during lactation.   Pregnant yearlings have protein requirements ranging from 8-12.1%, and growing calves need even more protein (8-22%) depending on their body weight.  Bulls, on the other hand, are pretty stable at 7% crude protein. 
     Energy requirements also fluctuate with physiological status.  Total digestible nutrients (TDN) is the sum of all the digestible nutrients in a feedstuff and is used as a common measurement for Energy.   Dr. Lelman’s report also suggests that TDN values should range from 50-60% for mother cows; up to 70% for pregnant replacement heifers; up to 80% for growing calves; up to 90% for growing yearlings; and up to 80% for bulls.
    With regard to which types of supplements you should use, there are too many types to name.  You could do lose supplements, such as grains, cottonseed hulls, brewer’s yeast, or beet pulp.  Alternatively, you could supplement with less wasteful options, such as ‘cake’ and tubs.   The amount and type of supplement you feed will depend on the nutritional value of that supplement you choose with respect to your desired protein and energy levels.  Keep in mind that dry matter intake typically ranges from 1.5-3% of a mother cow's body weight.

The need for feed supplements may be especially important for individuals putting up late hay crops because much of the nutrition in the grass may have already leached out.  

Call our office at 970.724.3456, or email, if you would like information and help determining your need for supplementation.

Click here to read Dr. David Lalman’s entire report on Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle E-974.  If you scroll to the bottom, you will see the complete set of nutrient requirement charts from which you can draw protein and energy requirements for your specific animals.  

Hay & Soil Sampling

As another friendly reminder, we don’t want you to forget that the Middle Park Conservation District has hay core samplers and soil core samplers available for use. 

Hay and Soil Cores provide invaluable information about your pastures and soil.  The results you’ll get from a simple forage test or soil test will simple to that of a Nutrition Label on the back of your favorite food.  You will finally know exactly what you are feeding your livestock, and what, if anything, your animals are missing in their diets. 
Hay and Soil Samples are very easy to take and the cost of testing is also cheap, ranging from $13-31.  Call our office at 970.724.3456 for more information or to borrow our core samplers.  

Dear Mark...

Do you have a burning conservation related question you would like to ask our resident NRCS District Conservationist?

If so, send the question to me, and I will pass it along to Mark.  It may be featured in the next issue of Eco-BiTs or Eco-Briefs.

Copyright © 2013 Middle Park Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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