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The Chaffee County Right to Ranch Board has scheduled a meeting for 3:30 p.m. Wed. January 22 in the Chaffee County Commissioner’s meeting room at county offices, 104 Crestone Ave., Salida. The stated purpose of the meeting is to review the county’s Right to Ranch policies and procedures.

The board is composed of Frank Holman, Jim McConaghy, Kate Larkin, Frosty Roe, Norma Seneca Cady and Bernie Post. All are serving two-year terms that expire on January 31, 2021. The county’s Right to Ranch policies have come under discussion in recent years as agricultural operations in rural areas are being questioned by residential neighbors.

Herding dogs at work. Photo courtesy of Pinterest

The county’s Right to Ranch rules, which received a revision in 2016, appear to differ from the Colorado Right to Farm law, which says “An agricultural operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if the agricultural operation alleged to be a nuisance employs methods or practices that are commonly or reasonably associated with agricultural production … any ordinance or resolution of any unit of local government that makes the operation of any agricultural operation a nuisance, or provides for the abatement thereof as a nuisance under the circumstances set forth in this section, is void.”

Colorado’s Right to Farm laws go on to say that local governments “may adopt an ordinance or pass a resolution that provides additional protection for agricultural operations.”  In other words Colorado law appears to support local governments adding more protection for agricultural activities — but it does not appear to support removing the protections afforded by state government.

While this meeting’s agenda appears only to focus on the county’s Right to Ranch policies and procedures, there has been recent controversy specifically related to the use of working dogs for agricultural operations. When the county amended its land use code, it limited the number of dogs on county properties to seven dogs, and dropped the agricultural exemption. It also appears to favor enforcing residential nuisance barking ordinances, even against working dogs in agricultural operations.

Is Chaffee County Harassing Farmers with Working Dogs?