Community Agriculture Alliance: Northwest Colorado Birding Trail finished

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After two years of planning, site selection and development, the Northwest Colorado Birding Trail is complete. If you are not familiar with the Colorado Birding Trail, it is a series of driving loops, or trails, that connect birding and wildlife viewing sites in a specific area.

There are two ways to acquire information about sites to visit to view birds in your area or while you are traveling. Visit the Colorado Birding Trail website at www.coloradobirdingtrail.com, or if you prefer a printed version, you may contact me at trina.romero@state.co.us or 970-255-6191 for a printed guide for the southeast, southwest or northwest portion of the trail. Later this summer, there will be a kickoff event to celebrate the completion of the northwest trail. Check the website for further details.

The concept for the Colorado Birding Trail began in the southeast portion of our state in the early 2000s. Led by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, a wide array of partners named the trail, and funding was secured from Great Outdoors Colorado to implement the first phase of the birding trail. Currently, three phases are complete. Northeast Colorado is next and will be completed in two to three years.

The trail provides recommendations for viewing specifics, along with seasonal information, species highlights and private property access on a very specific basis. Some private land owners have chosen to have their property be a site on the Colorado Birding Trail. The access to private sites is limited by the landowner. Some require prior notification and reservations, and some allow access only seasonally. If you plan to visit a private site along the trail, plan your visit ahead of time, allowing yourself to contact private landowners before your visit.

Birding has become a fast-growing form of recreation for young and old alike. According to the 2011 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which conducts a wildlife recreation participation survey every 10 years, wildlife viewing has increased 9 percent between 2001 and 2011 nationally. This includes wildlife viewing around the home and away from home. Away from home includes people who travel a mile or more from home to engage in wildlife viewing, including taking out-of-state trips where they contribute to other economies.

Birding is big business. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly 71.8 million people photographed and observed wildlife in 2011 nationwide. They spent $55 billion on wildlife viewing activities. Not only is wildlife viewing increasing in popularity, people participating in these types of recreational activities also are spending a lot of money, helping to support local business and economies.

Birding trails now can be found in 40 states, providing birders and wildlife viewers — whether novices or a pros — with an organized opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy wildlife, one of our most precious natural resources.

Now you can participate locally, so get out and bird!

Trina Romero is the watchable wildlife coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region. To contact Romero, email trina.romero@state.co.us or call 970-255-6191.

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