September 26, 2015
TO: Governor John Hickenlooper
Office of the Governor
200 E. Colfax Ave #136
Denver, Colorado 80203
RE: Comments on Colorado the Beautiful: 16 in 2016
Please consider the following comments on behalf of the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in regards to Governor Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful: 16 in 2016 trails plan.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a grassroots sportsmen conservation organization dedicated to serving as a voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife. We support land management plans that are based on sound science and which balance social demands with the biological needs of healthy habitats that support Colorado’s highly valued wildlife populations. Accordingly, we felt compelled to comment on the current effort to identify 16 new trails to be planned, developed or enhanced in 2016.
Throughout its 50 history the Land & Water Conservation Fund has served as a critical funding source for hunting and fishing access, and habitat conservation projects. Just in the last few years in Colorado LWCF has been used to provide access to world-class public land elk hunting at the Cross Mountain Ranch, to conserve valuable wetlands which serve as a stop-over point for big numbers of migrating waterfowl in the San Luis Valley, and to conserve large tracts of summer habitat for mule deer and elk outside of the town of Ophir.
This year we have a great opportunity to provide much-needed public fishing, hunting and other recreational access to one of the most popular fishing and boating destinations in the state – the Upper Colorado. With robust and permanent funding of LWCF in 2016, sportsmen could see greatly improved opportunities in pursuit of November mallards, or casting to the large browns that the Upper Colorado is so well known for. The project would go a long ways towards providing much improved fishing, hunting and boating access in the area. But unless Congress acts to reauthorize this incredibly popular program soon, opportunities like this will have come and gone.
State-specific plan for grouse management must integrate ongoing conservation activities by ranchers, sportsmen, federal government, says Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
DENVER – Following today’s release by Gov. John Hickenlooper of an “executive order” outlining sage-grouse management in Colorado, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers reiterated calls for “strong and proactive conservation activities” that build upon existing efforts and forestall the bird’s listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The sportsmen commended the Colorado sage-grouse EO for acknowledging the importance of ongoing regional collaborative efforts to sustain populations of the grouse, as well as the sagebrush ecosystems critical to fish and game, sportsmen and Colorado’s outdoors-based economy. However, the group also voiced some concerns: namely, that while the EO helps offset habitat loss through mitigation programs, it relies too heavily on voluntary mitigation measures that don’t provide the certainty needed for habitat mitigation to be successful.
Over the past few years, an unprecedented effort to conserve greater sage-grouse habitat has engaged Western states, the federal government, ranchers and private landowners, and numerous stakeholders, including BHA. Declining populations and impacts to habitat have put sage-grouse under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). An ESA listing for the bird – which would trigger a range of negative impacts – is an outcome sportsmen are invested in averting.
This is a much bigger deal than you might think: 350 other species – including elk, pronghorn and mule deer – depend on the same healthy sagebrush habitat. BHA released a report demonstrating the importance of strong conservation plans that benefit habitat for these species. Sportsmen rely on sagebrush country to put meat in the freezer and provide the kind of world-class hunting for which Colorado is known.
But we need the state of Colorado at the table working with the Department of the Interior to implement strong and meaningful sage-grouse conservation plans.
Please contact Gov. Hickenlooper at 303-866-2885 or by emailand ask him to implement wildlife-forward conservation plans that benefit habitat in sagebrush country, protect our sporting heritage and uphold Colorado’s way of life. Strong leadership can keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list, enhance the ability of states to manage populations, and conserve sagebrush habitat for the benefit of other species important to sportsmen.
Public lands are the fabric that binds America together, part of our shared national heritage. Hunters and anglers understand this fact better than most, as our federally owned lands and waters, including national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and other public places, provide irreplaceable opportunities for hunting and fishing, as well as innumerable other outdoor activities.
Consequently, American sportsmen were heartened by the Colorado Senate's recent vote (18-17) against Senate Bill 232 - a bill aimed at taking possession of our federal public lands. This is part of an organized movement to sell off and limit access to our public lands and waters.
Please join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in thanking Colorado Senator Larry Crowder for putting politics aside and voting against a bill that would undermine the public hunting and fishing access we all depend on.