2019 Year-end Review
“Birds of a Feather” by Katie Berning
It is with mixed feelings that we bid farewell to our Greater Sandhill Cranes as they leave the Yampa Valley and head south for the winter. While we are sad to see them depart, we are happy to know that they will return again next spring. In the meantime, the work of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. (CCCC) to protect these iconic birds continues all year long. As 2019 draws to a close CCCC is pleased to share with you some of the accomplishments of this past year. We hope you will consider a year-end donation to help support our efforts on behalf of the cranes.
The 8th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival was our best festival to date! Our total participant count exceeded all previous festivals. Attendees came from at least 46 Colorado cities, 24 states, and 3 countries. Sandhill Cranes were abundant and readily observed by attendees both on guided crane viewing shuttles and on their own. Attendees enjoyed outstanding presentations by our speakers, excellent bird and nature walks throughout the Yampa Valley, and the opportunity to choose from over 50 exciting events during the four-day festival. CCCC is grateful to the 80+ volunteers who work hard to put on this festival year after year.
“Three generations of the Bradford family at the 2019 Yampa Valley Crane Festival”
Here are some comments we received from participants on the post-festival questionnaire:
The festival exceeded all my expectations! It was mind expanding and inspiring. There was so much to learn and love about cranes and the people and organizations committed to their conservation locally and in other regions of the world, truly a veritable mini conference with so many speakers and expert presentations. It is remarkable that programming was designed to appeal to all ages and interests. I was impressed with outreach to the community and the opportunity made available for persons to participate in amateur and professional photography/art contests. So many wonderful films! And of courses the live birds were amazing.
My thanks to CCCC and their volunteers for helping folks to learn about the wonders and especially about the cranes in our natural world. A wonderful environmental event for all ages.
Thank you for your efforts to make the crane story a meaningful part of our lives. It will be a part of coming generations’ heritage and give them pride in their community and interest in wildlife.
By educating the public about cranes and the threats they face today, the Yampa Valley Crane Festival continues to be an effective tool for advancing our conservation goals.
“Crops for Cranes Field” by Abby Jensen
Crops for Cranes, our on-the-ground habitat improvement project, enjoyed another successful year. Since 2015 CCCC has partnered with farmers and conservation organizations in the Yampa Valley to grow grain crops specifically for the benefit of the cranes. These Crops for Cranes fields provide food for the cranes during their pre-migration staging phase as well as offer great viewing opportunities for crane festival attendees.
“Painting by Gabriella Valencia, winner of the Original Art category”
We are always seeking new ways to bring crane awareness and our conservation message to the younger generation. In 2018 we introduced a crane-inspired writing contest open to all high school seniors in Routt and Moffat counties; we awarded a single $1,500 scholarship to the winner of the 2018 contest. In 2019 we expanded this writing contest into a full-fledged Crane Creative Arts Contest. High school seniors were invited to submit an essay, a collection of three poems, or a piece of original art inspired by our Greater Sandhill Cranes. Thanks to generous donations by two of our volunteers, CCCC awarded $5,000 to the winners of this year’s Crane Creative Arts Contest. We hope the students who participated in the contest will carry an appreciation of cranes into their adult lives and become the crane conservationists of the future.
Our efforts to educate youth about cranes and conservation include many other activities as well. Each year we present an interactive Crane Educational Program to all third grade classrooms in Routt County. This year a total of 266 third graders participated in this program. In 2019 our Crane Coloring Contest attracted more than 200 young artists between the ages of 3 to14. During the festival 100+ children took part in the Crane Story-time Program, the HawkQuest live raptor presentation, and the educational family activities program.
Our First Crane Sighting Contest has grown each year and has proved extremely effective in encouraging public awareness of the return of the cranes to our valley. Although the cranes arrived a bit late this spring due to weather conditions, CCCC received over 50 reports from all over the Yampa Valley. Here are two photos that were submitted of this year’s early arrivals:
“Chris Becea First Crane Sighting Contest Photo”
“Meg Walker First Crane Sighting Contest Photo”
Our Yampa Valley Crane Festival Photo Contest provides us with new, beautiful photos of our cranes each year. These photos are used in our school education programs, in our publicity efforts for the festival, and as part of the information we provide to the public to promote our mission of crane conservation. In 2019, 24 photographers submitted a total of 40 photos to the contest. CCCC awarded 4 prizes to winners in each of the amateur and professional categories.
First Prize Amateur Category “Hide and Seek” by Annette Zuber
First Prize Professional Category “Crane Dance” by Clay McDermott)
CCCC goes all out when it comes to spreading the word about our Greater Sandhill Cranes. The dancing cranes, comprised of 10 of our volunteers and accompanied by our crane mascot, Sandy, entered the Fourth of July Parade in both Steamboat Springs and the City of Yampa. For the second year in a row, the dancing cranes won the “Best Group” award in the Steamboat Springs parade. They placed second overall in the Yampa parade.
As “crane consciousness” increases in our valley, CCCC has been approached by businesses that want to help us with our cause. In 2019 we continued our ongoing partnership with Yampa Valley Brewing Company (YVBC) in Hayden, CO. This brewery produces a beer called Sandhill Crane Red ale, that features our CCCC logo and the special slogan “Celebrating Colorado Crane Conservation” on the beer can label.
At the 2019 festival, Yampa Valley Brewing Company presented us with a check for a portion of the revenues from sales of Sandhill Crane Red ale over the past year. This money will be used to benefit the cranes and the 2020 festival.
New on the market in 2019 is a product called “Craniac Coffee” produced by Steamboat Coffee Roasters. The label, created by local artist Susan Schiesser, as well as the name of the coffee, helps the cause of crane conservation by promoting crane awareness. “Craniac Coffee” was generously donated by Steamboat Coffee Roasters and served to attendees during the 2019 Yampa Valley Crane Festival.
The 9thannual Yampa Valley Crane Festival is scheduled for September 3-6, 2020. It will once again feature all of your favorite crane, bird and nature activities, plus new events, films and expert speakers. We are thrilled to announce that our 2020 keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Beilfuss, President and CEO of the International Crane Foundation. Other featured speakers will include Steve Burrows, award-winning Canadian mystery writer, journalist, and past recipient of a “Nature Writer of the Year” award from BBC Wildlife, and Arvind Panjabi, avian conservation scientist for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and coauthor of the recent study published in Science magazine on the decline of North American birds. Please plan to join us.
We very much appreciate your on-going support of CCCC and our Greater Sandhill Cranes. With your assistance we will continue to promote the cause of crane conservation in Colorado. Your donations help fund our festival expenses including our world-class speakers, documentary films, crane-viewing shuttles, and programs for children. They help us pay for our Crops for Cranes project, our educational school presentations, and the numerous other expenses necessary to support our many programs.
Please consider a year-end donation to Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc.*
Thank you for working with us to help ensure the survival of this ancient species.
Nancy Merrill, President
Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc.
*Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization. Contributions may be tax-deductible under IRS rules.