Colorado BHA Comments on Boulder County's Rabbit Mountain Management Plan

October 31, 2013


RE: Hunting as a Management Tool - Rabbit Mountain Open Space Management Plan Revision


Dear Mr. Kobza,


We want to thank you for providing the opportunity to comment on the Rabbit Mountain Management Plan Revision. The undersigned sportsmen conservation organizations support wildlife management that is based on sound science and which utilizes the traditional management tools available (i.e. hunting) to achieve wildlife management objectives. To this end, we ask that you please consider the following comments when developing the resource management plan.


Publicly-Accessible Hunting as a Management Tool:


Currently sportsmen have paid the bill for more than $150,000 in agricultural game damage caused by the local Saint Vrain elk herd. In 2012 alone over $20,000 in elk damage was paid to landowners through revenue generated from license fees. Yet sportsmen have very limited publicly-accessible elk hunting opportunities in this area. Thus wildlife managers lack the traditional management tools needed to keep populations in check, limit damage to neighboring private property and ensure that Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s limited funding is being spent wisely.

Additionally, the current population levels serve as an impediment to other natural resource management goals for both the county and the state, such as native plant restoration and protection of sensitive habitats around seeps and spring on the property. Hunting would help managers meet these goals.

As sportsmen responsible for paying for the game damage in the area, we strongly urge Boulder County consider providing for limited, well-regulated hunting opportunities on the Rabbit Mountain property. Providing such hunting opportunity would serve as a cost effective (and revenue generating) management tool, while also providing traditional recreation opportunities for sportsmen.

Public access to hunting land remains the number one reason that hunters cite for why they quit hunting. As a large public landowner that currently prohibits hunting outright, Boulder County should strive to facilitate traditional uses of land, while also ensuring that the biological integrity of the land is maintained. Rabbit Mountain is a perfect area to do this. Other counties, such as Larimer (Rabbit Mountain) and Jefferson (Cone Peak) have implemented wildly successful big game hunting programs to manage populations. These programs could serve as a model for Rabbit Mountain.

We are eager to help Boulder County implement a hunting program on Rabbit Mountain and offer our assistance in whatever way we can.

Trails:

The current lack of trails on Rabbit Mountain provides for a large intact block of un-fragmented habitat for deer and elk. We understand the growing demand for trails related recreation in Boulder County and the potential for new trail development in the area, however we ask that any new trail development be done to minimize the well-documented impacts of trails-related disturbance on elk (see link below for references). Boulder County should protect this largely undisturbed block of secure habitat by ensuring that any new trail developments occur on the perimeter of the property.

Thanks you for taking the time to consider our comments. If there is any way that we can be of help to the process, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Tim Brass

Southern Rockies Coordinator

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

tim@backcountryhunters.org                

651-206-4669

37770 Jaz Rd

Windsor, CO 80550

 

Citations:

  1. National Shooting Sports Foundation. Issues Related to Hunting Access in the United States, 2011. http://www.nssf.org/PDF/research/HuntingAccessReport2011.pdf
  2. Centennial Cone Peak – Jefferson County, CO. http://jeffco.us/openspace/openspace_T56_R111.htm
  3. Red Mountain Open Space – Larimer County, CO. http://larimer.org/naturalresources/red_mountain_hunting.htm
  4. Eagle's Nest Open Space -http://larimer.org/naturalresources/eagles_nest.cfm
  5. Hermit Park Open Space -  http://larimer.org/naturalresources/hermitpark.cfm
About Caitlin Thompson