By Mike Dunn 

Habitat projects ready for implementation

Platte Valley Habitat Partnership looks to the future with mule deer project


Liz Wood

Voices of the Valley Vice Chairman Jim States addresses the Platte Valley Habitat Partnership on what is next for the PVHP.

The Platte Valley Habitat Partnership (PVHP) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (WGFC) held a meeting Dec. 11 at the Platte Valley Community Center after a successful month of planning and receiving funding for projects in mule deer habitat conservation.

It is "a start of a new era," said KayCee Alemeda executive director of Voices of the Valley (VOV), "There are five great habitat projects that will hit the ground this spring which is really exciting."

Alemeda stated that 91 landowners, including agency personnel and non-governmental organization representatives, have came together to form a successful partnership in PVHP. Additionally, 22 miles of fence have been converted to wildlife friendly fencing and 9,375 acres have been proposed for wildlife enhancement.

Out the the eight projects under review, five were approved for funding. Two of the projects that had been reviewed reportedly had merit but did not have a strong mule deer focus.

Wyoming Game and FishHabitat Biologist Ryan Amundson said the Trust Account representatives would meet Monday to share final input on these projects.

"I'm very confident that everything we have put before them will be funded as proposed," Amundson said.

The projects include the French Creek Fence Conversion Project, the Big Creek Ranch Mountain Shrub and Aspen Treatment Project, the ZN Ranch Riparian and Upland Habitat Enhancement, and the TA Ranch Mountain Shrub Aspen and Meadow Project.

The projects are scheduled to begin as soon as the snow melts.

Manager of the TA Ranch, James Sewell, said that they will continue working to improve mule deer habitat, but chose to fund internally.

"We weren't 100 percent sure if we were going to seek outside funding or not." Sewell said, "We appreciate the ideas, but prefer to self-fund any projects done on TA Ranch. We are not going to be requesting any outside funding, so those funds will be available for other projects in the Valley."

Amundson said that the PVHP and the WFGC would continue to work with the TA Ranch as needed.

Voices of the Valley has also announced they are pending 501(c)3 status. If approved, VOV would be recognized as a non-profit organization which would make fundraising for their projects easier.

"Those funding foundations can contribute their money on a tax exempt basis which is the reason why we need to be a 501(c)3 organization," Jim States, vice chairman of VOV said, "Those funding foundations will be able to make tax exempt contributions as opposed to taxable contributions."

Though States believes filing for a non-profit status is crucial for the mule deer habitat conservation projects, that is not the final step. States said that the project may take upwards of 20 years to see any major outcomes from the projects and if involvement from the community fades, the projects will fade with it.

"It needs to be driven as much as possible as a local effort." States said, "That's where the interest lays and thats where the results will be."

Though the projects are currently focused towards mule deer habitat conservation in the Platte Valley, the projects could extend to other wildlife in the future.

The PVHP encourages and welcomes all who wish to be apart of this effort. The next meeting will be held at Feb. 19 from 6-8pm at the Platte Valley Community Center.


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