It has been said that water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. Owners of ranches know this well and have taken many steps to protect the waters on their land. Some of the most innovative progress in conservation of water has been occurring on private property, in which owners are realizing the many benefits of revitalizing the waters on their lands. The recent surge of private conservation efforts has been a result of developing sporting opportunities.
One way property owners can invest in and conserve their land and water is by creating habitat for fish, birds and big game. By improving fishing, wing shooting and hunting experiences, owners contribute in a major way to reestablishing the riparian corridors that protect water. Ranchers have also found a pleasant surprise that developing sporting opportunities on their properties not only contributes to conservation, but can also be a good financial investment.
There are several benefits to increasing the sporting opportunities on a ranch. Perhaps the most alluring is that many ranchers use this opportunity to realize added enjoyment and income potential. Ranchers have found that balancing the use of the ranch as a working ranch and to allow fishing and hunting provides additional income. This can be done by leasing access to enhanced habitats for fishing, wing shooting or big game hunting as the property allows. For many, these are additional income opportunities that cannot be ignored. Additionally, there are a number of funding programs that can assist with the cost of these enhancements. Matching habitat potential, ranch operations and future goals with these federal programs can help to determine if any of these programs will be helpful. Finally, enhancing the sporting resources of a ranch has the potential to vastly increase its property value and decrease the time spent on the market.
With all of these potential benefits, how does one determine whether
habitat enhancement will benefit their ranch? The first step is to get an assessment of the property for a particular area of interest. This will not only help determine the potential for the sporting opportunity, but also give an indication of the costs involved. This assessment will provide the owner with the necessary information to determine if the project would be beneficial to the ranch.
If it is determined that the project matches the desired benefits and goals of the ranch, the next step is design and permitting. Ideally, the design process should be a collaborative effort between the ranch owner and their chosen habitat professional. This allows the owner to share knowledge of the property and the habitat professional to guide the owner through the enhancement of the habitat. Permitting is often seen as a pain and an intrusion on property rights. However, permitting allows an opportunity for designs to be reviewed and protects the public in general from the negligent actions of a few. Throughout many areas of the country, difficult permitting processes make enhancing some types of habitat very difficult. In other areas of the county, the lack of resources, such as water, can restrict the amount of enhancement that can be realized. That is why the assessment of the property is important for property owners. Final project costs can range in orders of magnitude, and the assessment can give the property owner an idea of what can be expected for a comparatively low cost.
When the design and permitting are completed, construction can begin. The costs involved in this phase largely correspond to the types and availability of materials used for the habitat enhancement. Some owners choose to provide their own equipment and labor to complete the projects, and others choose to have contractors build the improvements. Most projects show the greatest success when one entity can guide the owner through the assessing, designing, constructing, planting and monitoring phases of the habitat enhancement project.
Completed habitat improvement projects not only improve habitat for wildlife, but also improve the sporting opportunities on the property. This, in turn, can greatly improve the ongoing financial viability of a working ranch and the sales value of the property. In this way, today’s property owners hold a unique opportunity to not only achieve personal goals in undertaking habitat enhancement projects, but also playing a key role in helping to preserve a critical national resource—water!
Contact Bradley Florentin and Corey Engen
of FlyWater Consulting at 970 231-5498
or 970 217-3182.
Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved. BRAD WIEGMANN
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Complimentary samples of the products described in this website were provided for evaluation by the manufacturers mentioned.