Yampa Valley ag preservation group receives $25,000 Snowball Grant

Feb 8, 2013

A small group in western Colorado is doing their part to make sure agriculture in their community does not become a piece for only the history books. Like many small communities, an ever changing landscape appears to be inevitable, but that hasn’t stopped the Community Agriculture Alliance (CAA) in Yampa Valley from making sure local agriculture plays a big part in all three books: past, present and future.

According to USDA’s Census of Agriculture, the number of Routt County farms larger than 180 acres in 1954 was 426, and in 2007, there were just 225. The number with less than 180 acres in 1954 was 127 and in 2007, was 335.

The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation has recognized CAA for their diligence in supporting the ag community.

The company has chosen CAA as the recipient of the Snowball Community Grant award, and will be giving them a $25,000 check.

CAA is a local, nonprofit organization located in Steamboat Springs, CO, that has been promoting agriculture in the Yampa River Valley since 1999 and truly believes that ‘Agriculture Matters.’ The Yampa Valley is truly a unique place with a rich history of cattle and sheep ranching, dating from the 1870s, with many of the ranches still continuing family ownership.

The mission of CAA is to preserve the agricultural heritage of the Yampa Valley by initiating, supporting and encouraging actions, programs and policies that mutually benefit and connect agricultural producers and consumers. The driving philosophy is that the agricultural environment is a valuable part of the community and must be preserved, as once lost, it can never be restored.

CAA was established when much of the agriculture focus was on local beef production, local wool production and local hay production. In more recent years, the ag alliance has worked with a group of local vegetable growers and begun to expand its support of regional agricultural crop interests.

CAA, along with the Routt County Cattle Women and Colorado State University’s Routt County Extension, sponsor the North Western Colorado Bull Sale. This year, the event will be held April 13, with 54 bulls.

According to CAA Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh, this event is important to the local cattle industry because it allows a local exchange between livestock buyers and sellers. “Everyone has the opportunity to know their neighbors a little bit better and to celebrate the fact that agriculture is alive and vital in our area. It is truly a community experience that represents the best of our agricultural heritage,” Daughenbaugh said.

Highlights from the 2012 Bull Sale include a total sale of $112,000 on 35 bulls, with an average sale of $3,200.

The group also holds several workshops throughout the year, including drought and weed management, and land stewardship courses. They also play a role in sharing information related to local water issues and oil and gas news. “We don’t take sides,” Daughenbaugh said. But instead the group works to make sure the local ag industry is informed.

“The Snowball Community Grant is an ideal way to support local organizations that do so much for northwest Colorado,” said Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer of the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. “Recognizing that this year is the resort’s 50th anniversary, the long-term, closeknit tie between ranching and skiing made the Community Agriculture Alliance a deserving recipient.”

The grant annually awards funds to a local nonprofit agency or organization in the Yampa Valley each spring. The grant emanates from the donoradvised Ski Corporation Charitable Fund. Over the past five years, the Snowball Grant has provided $125,000 for local organizations.

“In today’s challenging financial environment, nonprofit organizations are called upon to a larger degree and are feeling a greater impact from current economic challenges,” continued Diamond. “The resort’s Snowball Community Grant provides additional resources to ensure that an organization like the Community Agriculture Alliance can continue to protect the values, heritage and history of this special valley.”

A reception will take place from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm on Friday, Feb. 22 in the Mountain View Foyer at the Steamboat Grand to award the grant as well as the Hazie Werner Award to Daughenbaugh, a Yampa Valley native. The Hazie Werner Award reception coincides with Hazie Werner’s birthday. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor