Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc.

Protect Sandhill Cranes and their habitat in Colorado! CCCC offers programs that educate the public about cranes and conservation - including the Yampa Valley Crane Festival, live-stream Crane Nest Camera, and Crops-for-Cranes project. Please donate to support Sandhill Cranes and CO's biodiversity!

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Yampa Valley Crane Festival

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Animals
Children (4-12 years)
Families
General population

Description

The annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival is a four-day event celebrating the magnificent Greater Sandhill Cranes that roost, breed, and migrate through the Yampa Valley. The festival takes place in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, and Craig, CO. The purpose of the festival is to raise awareness of this iconic species, to educate the public about the threats that these birds continue to face today, and to promote conservation of the cranes and their habitat. Festival activities include:
• Presentations by crane and wildlife experts
• Guided crane viewings led by a crane expert
• Children and family activities
• A picnic and crane conservation presentation at a conserved ranch in Hayden
• Crane and nature films
• Guided bird walks on trails throughout the Yampa Valley
• Birding-by-pontoon boat at Steamboat Lake
• Crane art displays in galleries throughout Steamboat Springs
• A guided nature walk
• Tours of crane-friendly ranches
• A live raptor booth and presentation about Colorado native species
• A photography workshop with live birds
• An outdoor performance given by crane-inspired aerialist dancers
• Crane yoga workshops for all ages
• Bird and insect walk at Yampa River Botanic Park
• And more!

In 2020, the Yampa Valley Crane Festival was celebrated as a virtual event. A series of original videos focused on cranes and crane-related topics were created and offered to the public free of charge. These videos remain accessible through the crane festival website www.coloradocranes.org. In 2021 the festival was able to return to its original, live and in-person, format.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Every year since its inception in 2012, the Yampa Valley Crane Festival has grown both in the number of events offered and in the number of attendees. Many of our attendees return to the festival year after year. For the past several years we distributed a questionnaire to attendees. The results of this questionnaire indicate that festival participants give high praise to the quality of programs offered and to the knowledge gained about the cranes and about the other species of wildlife that share the habitat with the cranes. We also receive a great deal of email feedback from attendees about the festival:

"Thank you so much for another wonderful weekend spent in the company of these amazing birds and all those caring people! And thank you (and your staff) for all your efforts in the education and conservation of the cranes!"

"My congratulations on another great Crane Festival. It gets better each year and I swear there are more cranes in the valley since you started the festival."

"The entire festival runs very smoothly. It was a wonderful blend of talks, films, crane viewing, etc. I learned so much. Thank you! I am a craniac now!"

Field Conservation and Research

Class

Animal-Related 

Beneficiaries

Animals
General population

Description

In spring 2021 CCCC installed a camera at a known Sandhill Crane nest in the Yampa Valley and live-streamed the nest activity on their website. The public was able to observe the entire nesting cycle from nest-building, to egg laying, to the hatching of a chick, as well as ask questions and send in observations. In addition, CCCC staff made videos of some of the nest camera highlights, including the actual moment of egg-laying and crane encounters with various predators at the nest. This project not only served to educate the public but it also added to the scientific knowledge base about crane nesting.

Greater Sandhill Cranes that breed in the Yampa Valley rely on waste grain crops to provide adequate nutrition for successful migration to their wintering grounds in New Mexico and Arizona. In recent years the number of acres dedicated to growing grain crops has decreased significantly in the Yampa Valley mainly due to economic factors. This decrease in grain crop production has the potential to adversely affect the cranes. Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) is concerned that if grain production continues to decrease, cranes may spend less time in the Yampa Valley and may eventually leave the area altogether. This would be a huge loss for the valley's biodiversity and for the ecotourism that the cranes generate.

in response to this problem CCCC launched Crops for Cranes. Since 2015 CCCC has been working with state wildlife officials, conservation organizations and private landowners to provide grain crops for cranes in the late summer/early fall, just prior to their migration and coinciding with the Yampa Valley Crane Festival. CCCC enters into an individualized agreement with a willing farmer or landowner to purchase at market value a certain number of acres of grain crops to be left for the cranes. Or alternatively, CCCC may cost share in some manner with the landowner for production of a certain number of acres of grain crops for the cranes. Many of these Crops for Cranes areas also allow for public viewing of the cranes during the crane festival. Through the Crops for Cranes program, CCCC seeks to establish designated areas where grain crops will be left for the cranes and at the same time will also allow for safe public viewing of the cranes.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

CCCC monitors these Crops for Cranes areas every fall. Crane numbers in these areas tend to be higher than in nearby areas. To date, crane numbers in the Yampa Valley are holding steady or increasing slightly.

Education and Awareness

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Children (4-12 years)
General population

Description

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition (CCCC) offers a number of programs and contests throughout the year that are geared toward:
1) raising awareness of the Greater Sandhill Cranes
2) educating the public about the threats that cranes continue to face today
3) promoting conservation of cranes and protection of their habitat
These include:
• Crane educational programs for school children, seniors and other community groups
• Webinars about crane lifecycles including nesting and chick rearing
• First Crane Sighting Contest with prizes awarded to the individual who submits the first photo of a crane returning to the valley in the spring. Prizes are also awarded for the first documented sightings in West Moffat, Craig, West Routt, South Routt, North Routt, and Steamboat Springs.
• Crane Coloring Contest, open to all children ages 3-14, with multiple prizes given at each age level
• Crane Festival Photo Contest with prizes awarded in both amateur and professional categories
• Crane-inspired Creative Arts Scholarship Contest open to all high school seniors in Routt and Moffat counties. Three $1500 scholarships (one each for Writing, Poetry, Other Creative Arts), and one $500 honorable mention scholarship are awarded to the winners.
• Crane dancers in 4th of July Parade.

In 2021 CCCC partnered with the Historic Hayden Granary to commission a beautiful Sandhill Crane mural on one of the silos of the granary. This mural has raised awareness of these iconic birds among both locals and tourists and generated conversation about the importance of protecting cranes and their habitat in Colorado.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

The number of participants in our various programs and contests increases every year. For example, in 2020 we received a record 59 reports for our First Crane Sighting Contest! These reports help us learn more about the Greater Sandhill Cranes in Northwest Colorado and, in turn, help our efforts to protect the cranes and conserve their habitat. Each year more than 200 school children participate in our crane educational programs and our Crane Coloring Contest. These children take away a message of appreciation for the cranes and the natural environment. Our 4th of July Crane Dancers are always a highlight of the annual parade and make thousands of parade-goers aware of this iconic species.

Since initiating these contests and programs, crane consciousness throughout northwest Colorado has increased significantly. CCCC board members and volunteers are frequently stopped on the street by ordinary citizens who are eager to share their crane sightings and crane stories. In recent years the number of contacts we have received from the public with questions or concerns about the cranes has increased significantly. Through these programs and contests, CCCC has built a following of "craniacs" that are invested in protecting the cranes and their habitat.

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