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CPW News Release
Gov. Polis & CPW Announce 2023 Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Grant Recipients, Working to Keep Communities Safe and Protect Colorado Wildlife

Joey Livingston
Statewide Public Information Officer
303-345-4658 /

Gov. Polis & CPW Announce 2023 Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Grant Recipients, Working to Keep Communities Safe and Protect Colorado Wildlife  

DENVER - Today, Governor Polis and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced the 2023 funding recipients of the Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grant. This grant program provides funding for local communities, municipalities, businesses and nonprofit organizations working to create innovative ways to reduce human-bear conflict and keep communities safe.  

“Colorado is home to iconic wildlife, including black bears, and as our state grows, we must take action to protect the native wildlife and their habitats,” said Governor Polis. “Bear damage can be expensive for communities and homeowners to repair. Because of this, we must continue to support local strategies that prevent conflicts before they happen to save people money and keep communities safe. I am thrilled to announce the 14 recipients of this funding, and I look forward to how your projects will help your communities, the state, and our bears stay safe!”

In 2021, Governor Polis signed a bipartisan law HB 21-1326 sponsored by Rep. Barbara McLachlan, Rep. Perry Will and Senator Tammy Story which directed CPW to distribute funding to local communities to help reduce human-bear conflicts and support native species conservation. The Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grant was created to accomplish this and to support local initiatives working to prevent bear conflicts. 

"We all have a role to play in protecting Colorado's wildlife. By investing in projects that prevent human-bear conflict, we do better for our communities and keep our iconic wildlife safe. I am so excited to highlight these 14 innovative projects designed to reduce human-bear conflict in communities and keep people and bears safe," said First Gentleman Marlon Reis. "By supporting communities in their efforts to educate Coloradans about how to coexist with wildlife, we can prevent damage, keep people safe, and ensure Colorado black bears live long and happy lives."

Last summer, Governor Polis and CPW announced the first recipients of the grant program and distributed $997,138 to support the selected projects. Following last year's success, CPW extended the program and provided long term sustainable funding to continue to support efforts that reduce human-bear conflicts.

This spring, CPW offered up to $1 million, distributed through a competitive grant process, in order to support more projects that prevent conflicts with bears in local communities. 20 applications for this year's grant funding were received with applicants applying from all four regions of Colorado. 

“Human-bear conflict measures cannot be successful without collaboration between local communities, wildlife managers and individuals,” said CPW Grant Manager Travis Long. “Fortunately, CPW saw success with this grant program last year with many communities taking advantage of the opportunities this funding provided and implementing projects to help reduce conflicts with bears.”

The following 14 projects were selected to receive grant funding:

Boulder Bear Coalition - Boulder County Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Project
$107,225 awarded
 - Mountain communities are prone to human-bear conflicts due to the nature of rural living, with homes near public lands and the wild landscapes where bears live; and the characteristics of human development that cultivate interactions with wildlife. Mountain neighborhoods and communities can experience ongoing and repeated events of nuisance behavior and habituation of bears that may lead to safety concerns and property damage. Boulder County Parks & Open Space, in partnership with Boulder Bear Coalition, will purchase proven bear deterrent solutions such as bear-resistant trash containers and electric fencing kits. They will also assist with fencing installation in addition to community outreach and education. This effort supports the ongoing actions of rural and mountain residents to reduce conflicts with bears stemming from attractants such as unsecured garbage and hobby beehives. 

City of Gunnison - Waste Management Improvements
$69,000 awarded
 - Bear conflicts are a major concern in the City of Gunnison, especially neighborhoods adjacent to the Gunnison River. History has shown most of these conflicts occur in dumpster locations that have been unmanaged and overfilled with many resulting in property damage.The City of Gunnison has modified refuse codes structured around overfill and overnight trash can storage to address these problems and will use grant funding to help qualified residents in high-conflict areas purchase bear-resistance trash cans. Additionally, they will purchase bear-resistant dumpster containers to replace existing dumpsters that are routinely visited by bears. Education and outreach around reducing human provided food sources and proper waste management is planned as a critical component of their community engagement.

Steamboat Springs - Bear Proof Dumpster Enclosure Project
$162,000 awarded
- Steamboat Springs is surrounded by mountainous forested areas which are prime habitat for black bears. Since 2019, there have been increasing numbers of bear encounters in the populated areas of the city, largely due to the inadequate storage of waste placed outside for collection. As natural food sources become scarce, bears learn to find easy food in trash containers. This project will reduce human-bear conflict by decreasing the accessibility of large amounts of food waste in city trash cans.  Bear-resistant enclosures will be constructed at two prominent locations in downtown Steamboat Springs, each of which will store two to three dumpsters that collect trash, recycling and grease disposal. As the bears learn there is not accessible food waste at these locations, they will be forced to return to their proper habitat to find and forage for food. This will also reduce the number of bear euthanizations that become necessary once a bear has become too habituated to humans.

Bear Smart Durango - Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Community Project
$90,000 awarded
- In recent years La Plata County has ranked in the top five for bears breaking into vehicles, dwellings, garages, beehives, birdfeeders, trash-related conflicts and other human food attractant reports. Black bear research has demonstrated that trash is the overwhelming reason black bears forage in developed areas, and that effective trash management and changes in human behavior helps prevent conflicts. The City of Durango has been working for years to increase the amount of bear-resistant trash containers and has seen a corresponding decline in bear in trash incidents. But, continuing efforts are needed to keep reducing bear conflicts. Grant funding will be used to help county residents and tribal members purchase bear-resistant trash cans and to purchase and install food lockers at high priority United States Forest Service campgrounds in La Plata County. 

Community Fruit Rescue - Fruit Gleaning
$35,000 awarded
- Community Fruit Rescue is a nonprofit organization based in Boulder that harvests and distributes surplus urban fruit that would otherwise go to waste and create bear attractants. This project aims to expand Community Fruit Rescue’s capacity and number of communities served by increasing the number of fruit harvests during the 12-week season in 2023. Additionally, a comprehensive messaging kit that shares detailed information about living with black bears and other wildlife will be shared by harvest leaders directly to volunteers and homeowners. 

Beulah Fire Department - Community Human-Bear Conflict Resolution Project
$100,000 awarded
- Perched on the edge of the San Isabel National Forest, the Beulah community has seen increasing levels of human-bear conflicts over the past several years. The growing human population throughout the area has interrupted bear habitat with new home developments presenting new food attractants, including livestock feed, bird feeders, and unsecured trash. Many locations lack proper storage and bear-resistant trash receptacles. Grant funding will be used to install bear-resistant trash cans in Pueblo Mountain Park, purchase bear-resistant cans for residents in high-conflict areas, implement bear deterrent materials for beehive and small farm hobbyists and support education and outreach efforts within the community.

Snowmass Village - Bear-Proof Curbside Container Program
$57,500 awarded
- Human-bear conflict has existed in Snowmass Village since the town began to develop as a ski resort in the late 1960's and early 1970's. With continued development, population growth, and a constant flow of newcomers to the mountains came increased conflict as bears began to habituate to unsecured human food sources. Through implementing waste management ordinances and enforcement, outreach and education, and bear-resistant communal dumpster infrastructure, the town has been successful in reducing the number of bear conflicts within the community. However, there are still occasions where bears target residential trash cans placed outside for collection or enter homes and vehicles and find unsecured garbage. Replacing all curbside trash cans with bear-resistant cans will enable the Snowmass Village to address a historical weakness in these management efforts and significantly reduce remaining human-bear conflicts.

Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Asso. - Community Bear Prevention Program
$99,149 awarded
- The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association includes 58% of the Archuleta County population, with a diverse housing community of single-family homes, mobile homes, townhomes, condos, timeshares and commercial businesses. The Vista Subdivision consists mainly of 365 homes and 154 vacant lots bordering the San Juan  National Forest. This area consistently experiences bear conflicts related to unsecured trash, compounded by prolonged drought conditions which has reduced the amount of natural forage available to the bears. Grant funding will be used to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for qualified residents, support education efforts and recruit local volunteers to help implement CPW’s Bear Aware Program. With a combination of securing trash from bears, owner education, and community involvement, residents will have the tools to help to proactively prevent and reduce further human-bear conflicts. 

Summit County - Bear Safe Summit Program
$145,000 awarded - 
As a rural resort community located within an urban-wildlife interface, bears and humans in Summit County live and recreate in the same areas making the potential for conflicts high. Unsecured trash is the most common driver of conflict with bears. Despite ordinances requiring trash to be securely stored, bears have learned the garbage collection routes and enter residential areas to search for food in regular trash containers prior to pickup. While Summit County residents want to do the right thing, the high cost of living and especially high property costs create financial barriers for both residents and businesses, limiting their ability to include bear-safe measures in their budgets. Therefore, Summit County will implement a new reimbursement program targeted specifically at reducing barriers for residents and businesses to practice bear aware techniques. This new program called Bear Safe Summit will reduce garbage and food refuse related human-bear interactions throughout Summit County by combining a bear-resistant container or trash enclosure reimbursement program with community education.

Granby Rec District - Main Street Bear Trash Cans
$8,500 awarded
- The Town of Granby is in the middle of bear country. The rural community is small, but recent growth and development has led to an explosion of human-bear conflicts related to trash as a food source. Knowing that a community always benefits from trash being secured, Granby has begun to replace traditional trash cans in public places with bear-resistant containers. Bear foraging behavior for natural food sources is encouraged by not having easily accessible trash, and the potential for conflicts and possibly dangerous interactions (as well as car accidents along Main Street) is reduced. When the public sees the town leading by example with bear-resistant trash containers throughout the community, residents and visitors alike are reminded that they are in bear country and hopefully will be mindful of how they dispose of their trash. Grant funding will be used to continue to replace standard trash cans with bear-resistant trash containers at public parks and along Main Street.

Mineral County - Bear-resistant Dumpsters
$46,500 awarded
- Mineral and Hinsdale Counties are destinations for a variety of summer and fall visitors from across the country. Many of these visitors have summer vacation homes in small housing communities, or rent cabins at their favorite guest ranches across the two counties. These communities and ranches provide a central dumpster station for their guests. However, this has become increasingly problematic as bears are attracted to and dependent on the trash as a food source. Grant funding will help provide high-quality bear-resistant dumpsters to these communities and ranches in both counties, with the goal of eliminating bears’ ability to get a "taste" of civilization. The counties will also continue education efforts for residents and visitors on proper bear etiquette everywhere, not just around the dumpster area.

Manitou Springs - Bear Can Community Giving Project
$18,000 awarded
- Manitou Springs is a vibrant mountain town nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak. People love living in Manitou Springs for the natural beauty of Pike National Forest that nearly surrounds the town. However, that close proximity to the outdoors and the wildlife residents, means that humans must responsibly manage trash and other wildlife attractants. The Manitou Springs Wildlife Protection ordinance currently requires all residents and business owners to have a bear-resistant container for trash, but the majority of Manitou homeowners do not own one and bear-resistant trash cans can be cost-prohibitive. Many residents may not know about the code requirements or the immediate risk of leaving trash exposed to wildlife. Grant funding will be used to help purchase and distribute bear-resistant trash cans to residents and businesses and to assist with robust community education and outreach efforts around coexisting safely with bears. Providing effective ways for residents to secure trash is a small but crucial step in reducing conflicts that residents and visitors have with black bears. 

Idaho Springs - Public Trash Can Replacement Program
$50,000 awarded
- The City of Idaho Springs is located in the heart of Clear Creek Canyon. Human-wildlife conflicts have been commonplace throughout the city’s history, and the local community has long worked together to reduce conflicts between bears, residents, and business owners. One of the primary methods in achieving that goal has been to prevent unsecured trash from attracting bears. Idaho Springs’ economy is primarily based on recreation and tourism, and many visitors and newer residents are not used to thinking about how their trash is an attractant for wildlife. To set a good example for the community, Idaho Springs will use grant funding to help replace public trash cans with bear-resistant trash containers in city parks, public greenways, and the downtown National Historic District. Bear-resistant containers will be installed at hiking trails in Virginia Canyon Mountain Park and signage throughout the parks and downtown area will encourage residents and visitors to think about the impact of their refuse on local wildlife.

Hoaglund Ranch Homeowners Association - Trash Enclosure
$11,879 awarded
- Hoaglund Ranch Homeowners Association is a historic ranch with a former ranch home and ranch hand quarters that have been converted into affordable housing for local workers. The property sits in the middle of old-age fruit trees, and borders Bureau of Land Management land. Bears visit frequently to feast on the fruit trees and then move on to the next available food sources, frequently going to the unsecured dumpster collection area for all homes within the community. Grant funding will be used to construct a bear-resistant trash enclosure around the dumpster, which will eliminate the easy second food choice for foraging bears. With a proper trash enclosure in the Hoaglund Ranch neighborhood preventing access to household waste, there will be one less target for bears and other wildlife to find a human-provided meal.

Become Bear Aware: CPW offers printable resources and encourages you to share these materials and talk to your neighbors about being Bear Aware. CPW asks all residents and visitors to help save Colorado’s bears by being actively bear aware throughout the year. Bear conflicts and bear euthanization is most often traced back to human behavior. It is all of our responsibility to help minimize risks to humans and bears alike by being mindful of our impacts. CPW manages bear populations in the state following the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

For more information on bears in Colorado, visit If you have questions or need to report bear problems, call your nearest CPW office
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CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 43 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.
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