Greater Sandhill Crane Festival takes flight in Yampa Valley Thursday | CraigDailyPress.com

Greater Sandhill Crane Festival takes flight in Yampa Valley Thursday

The 6th Annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival begins on Thursday and offers activities in Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs.

Festivalgoers will be encouraged to visit the Craig area to see the Cranes at Yampa Valley Fiberworks through a new partnership between festival organizers and the Moon family.

"Yampa Valley Fiberworks is currently seeing cranes in their fields both morning and evenings," said President of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition Nancy Merrill.

For the past three years, the coalition has been working with state wildlife officials, conservation organizations and private landowners to provide grain crops for cranes in the early fall, just prior to their migration and coinciding with the Yampa Valley Crane Festival.

The Crops for Cranes program compensates landowners for planting grain to provide cranes with an important food source. The some of the grain fields are selected in locations that allow festival guests to safely view the birds.

"These experiences play a critical role in educating festival attendees about the cranes, the environment, conservation, and the important role that agriculture plays with wildlife in the Yampa Valley," Merrill said.

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Doyle Moon, owner of Moon Enterprises, who manages the land around the fiber mill at Yampa Valley Fiberworks, planted a wheat field this spring as part of Crops for Cranes program.

Unfortunately, due to a very dry June, the wheat did not flourish. However, cranes are still frequenting the property and are seen feeding in other nearby fields.

The family has had a special bench built for festival attendees to use when they come to watch the cranes. They also encourage visits to their fiber mill and store.

"I will have some beautiful pictures of cranes and chicks, in flight for sale in a little art show hanging on the building," said mill owner Lorrae Moon.

Craig residents may also be interested in two events taking place on Sept. 2

World renown conservationist Dr. George Archibald will give a keynote at 1:30 p.m. at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs.

A picnic event will be held the evening of Sept. 2 at the Carpenter Ranch featuring a talk by Ted Floyd, editor of the American Birding Association's magazine — 'Birding' — followed by guided crane viewing at a nearby location.

Both of the events are free to attend.

For $16 guests may register at coloradocranes.org to purchase a picnic dinner prepared by The Stay-at-Home Chef or guests may also bring their own picnic dinner to the event.

The festival will last through the Labor Day weekend. For a complete listing of events visit: coloradocranes.net.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.