Motorized Mobs Must Acknowledge the Need for Law, Order and Quality Habitat

samBackcountry Hunters & Anglers understand the value of hunting and angling in wild, undeveloped landscapes. We understand the science that clearly illustrates the need for public fish and wildlife habitat that’s free form the noise and disturbance of modern life. And while we’re passionate about ensuring these resources and traditions remain intact for years to come, we also understand that our land managers are under immense pressure from other, sometimes competing interests. So when land managers are able to strike the right balance between the demands for motorized access to our public lands and the need for high-quality non-motorized habitat, Colorado BHA is obliged to offer our steadfast support.

Thus, a tip of the hat to the BLM and USFS agency officials in the Gunnison region for implementing Travel Management Plans (TMP) that limit motorized use to system routes and decommissions hundreds of miles of illegal, non-system motorized routes. As supported by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the balance that’s been struck will improve fish and wildlife habitat and in turn provide sportsmen with higher-quality hunting and fishing opportunities.

While plan implementation is a feat in and of itself, monitoring and enforcement of motorized closures is perhaps an even more difficult task given the limited enforcement funding available to the USFS. Here again, until recently, agency officials have done an exemplary job of following-up on their plan with monitoring and enforcement. Such enforcement efforts would not be possible without Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s OHV Enforcement Program, which for years has provided much-needed funding for enforcement for activities such as these.

As the Gunnison USFS District embarks on the next phase of TMP implementation – which this year will include decommissioning over 100 miles of illegal motorized routes – the balance struck between the demands for motorized access and the needs of wildlife is at risk. Last summer a mob staged violent protests in response to TMP implementation, unfortunately forcing the USFS to re-open routes outside of Pitkin that had been closed to improve wildlife habitat.

2012’s ruthless, but successful road-re-opening demonstrations in Pitkin seem to have sent a message to angry motorized mobs elsewhere, as motorized activists have now been lawlessly ripping out legal road closures on BLM land near Olathe, presumably expecting the same results. We urge law enforcement personal and agency officials to uphold the public process through which management of our public lands is determined and to meaningfully enforce the rules set by this process.

As motorized interests continue to push for additional route re-openings, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers our utmost support for the decisions that have been made by the USFS and BLM through the formal TMP planning process (which of course these “motorized enthusiasts” were not a part of) – closures which will improve wildlife habitat and quality, traditional hunting opportunities for all of us. We stand by law, we stand by order and we firmly stand by the balance that’s been struck through the USFS & BLM’s resource management planning process, a balance between the need for quality non-motorized wildlife habitat and a growing demand for motorized recreation.

Did you know that BHA offers rewards for information leading to the conviction of illegal motorized users?  Take down any descriptive information that you can get, report it, and you may be eligible for a $500 reward!

Photo - CO BHA Member, Sam Pankratz scouting elk outside of Gunnison

About Caitlin Thompson