Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a big job: managing and protecting 42 beautiful state parks throughout the state, perpetuating Colorado’s full range of furry and finny wildlife and providing enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities.
I’ve been a Colorado taxpayer for many years, but only recently learned about a small action I can take to support a key part of CPW’s work: Make a contribution through my state income tax return to the “Colorado Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. ” Nongame wildlife are those species that are not hunted, trapped or fished. And there are a lot of these critters in Colorado—an estimated 750 species.
But don’t we already support CPW programs with our tax dollars? As I discovered, no we don’t…not completely. CPW is what’s known as an enterprise agency. That means it largely has to earn its own way. CPW is funded primarily by hunting and fishing licenses, state parks fees and registration fees. But the nongame and endangered wildlife program receives zero state tax dollars. That’s why contributions via Colorado income tax returns are so important.
As Coloradans, we can be proud of the fact that the Colorado Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund was the first state income tax check-off fund in the United States. We also can be proud of the nearly $9.2 million we have contributed since 1977, the first year of the program. These dollars have been invested in many important CPW programs, including, among many others:
- Conserving otters, lynx. black-tailed prairie dogs, Gunnison sage grouse, boreal toads, and mountain plovers
- Recovering bald eagles, Greenback cutthroat trout, and black-footed ferrets
- Supporting wildlife rehabilitation centers that care for injured and orphaned wildlife
Preserving nongame and endangered species isn’t only about conserving the critters themselves. It’s also about conserving their habitat.
“The well-being of nongame species from the Eastern plains to the highest peaks are key indicators of habitat health in Colorado,” says Reid DeWalt, assistant director for wildlife and natural resources at CPW. “The nongame tax check-off is a vital tool for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to support the management of Colorado’s numerous nongame species.”
You can make a tax-deductible contribution to the Colorado Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund on your Colorado state income tax return in two simple steps:
- Check line 1 of Colorado income tax form 104CH.
- Indicate the amount you want to donate to this fund from your refund. If you don’t have a refund coming, you can add a donation amount to the tax amount you pay.
If you use a tax preparer, tell them you want to make this contribution on your return. Remember, every dollar helps! FYI–the average 2015 donation was $14.73.
So for the first time this tax year, I’m making that check mark for Colorado’s nongame and endangered wildlife. I hope you will consider doing so, too.
Written by Linda Pohle. Pohle is a freelance writer and a volunteer at Castlewood Canyon State Park.