Steamboat Springs The Routt County Planning Commission and Routt County Board of Commissioners looked Thursday at the possibility of bringing ranchers to the table to discuss the likelihood of special-use permits for commercial elk and deer operations.
The county currently does not require people who operate such facilities to hold a special-use permit.
County commissioners and the Planning Commission met Thursday evening for a work session that broadly addressed several items to be brought up in future discussions.
County Commissioner Doug Monger said he thought ranchers would be willing to work with the county on a compromise.
Ranchers should be invited to any future discussions about county special-use permits, County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
The idea behind permit requirements was not to harm ranching operations that raised deer and elk for meat or hunting excursions, Routt County Planning Commissioner Fred Nichols said.
"We are not trying to prevent people from making a living," he said.
He suggested instead the time was right for the county to explore special-use permit requirements for game farming.
Recent discoveries of chronic wasting disease in deer in northwestern Colorado presented a viable argument for pursuing the idea, he said.
"It's very timely, and we need to move on it," he said.
More than 400 deer and elk were killed over a five-day period to control a CWD outbreak in northwestern Colorado.
After five deer tested positive for the fatal brain disease, the Colorado Division of Wildlife killed deer and elk as part of an attempt to stop the disease from spreading through the spring migration.
DOW officials culled 286 deer and 134 elk within a five-mile radius of the Motherwell Ranch, which is southwest of Hayden.
The heads of the animals were tested for CWD.
Caryn Fox, director of the Routt County Planning Department, said she talked to a veterinarian from the state Agricultural Department about the possibility of a county special-use permit for commercial deer and elk operations.
The veterinarian told her no other county in the state requires such a permit, she said.
County commissioners and planning commissioners also mulled the possibility of county-imposed impact fees.
Revenue from county impact fees could be used for such entities as schools, emergency services and fire protection.
Impact fees could be limited to certain areas in Routt County, Stahoviak said, depending on areas impacted by development.