Colorado is blessed with rich agricultural lands that produce the crops and livestock that sustain many rural communities and feed the world. Colorado’s 66 million acres of land include 11.5 million acres of cropland, which support more than 36,000 ranches and farms. Colorado farmers and ranchers are some of the most productive in the country. Colorado farmers rank in the top five producers for barley, potatoes, millet, sorghum and sunflower. Colorado ranchers stack up second in the country for market sheep and lambs, fifth for cattle on feed, and 10th for growing cattle.
Without private landowners' support, modern-day Colorado's remarkable wildlife abundance - and equally rich hunting and fishing opportunities - simply would not exist.
The management of privately held lands and associated water rights is critical to the maintenance of many species of Colorado wildlife. Many native species, including pronghorn, lesser prairie chicken and burrowing owls, are highly dependent on private land. Colorado's state bird, the lark bunting, is almost always found on private land, as are a whole host of prairie species such as longspurs, sparrows, ferruginous hawk, prairie falcon, swift fox and others. On the West Slope, private lands have the critical winter range that shelters mule deer through the winter months. About half of Colorado’s greater sage grouse and Gunnison sage grouse rely on private landowners. Private landowners have played key roles in the conservation of rare species, such as Greater prairie chicken and mountain plover. The management of privately held water rights, held in reservoirs or released into streams, supports both warm and cold-water sport fish.
Did you know?
- An estimated 95% of critical winter range for mule deer is located on private land in Colorado.
- Pronghorn are predominantly an eastern plains species; 89 percent of the eastern plains is private.
- Almost 100 percent of Colorado's Greater prairie chickens and ring-necked pheasants call private lands home.
- The majority of shortgrass prairie species, like burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, swift fox, badger and black-tailed prairie dogs, are found on private land.
The following Private Land Programs offer partnerships with landowners, land management agencies and others. Programs provide incentives and/or assistance for landowners with interest in improving wildlife habitat, managing wildlife impact and species conservation on private lands.
For more information, visit our resources page.