CO BHA Chapter Newsletter Spring 2024

“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the spring.”

 -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac


There’s no other organization like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Need proof? Take a look at the highlights from the 2023 member survey. What other group boasts a membership that relies on public land 90% of their time afield; eats wild game weekly (50%); is mostly younger (76% under age 54); and–perhaps most amazing in this polarized age–is nearly evenly split across partisan affiliations?

That unique mix of members, all fueled by a dedication to public lands, waters, and wildlife, is BHA’s superpower. To see it in action firsthand, come out to our big Colorado Public Lands Day event in Gunnison May 17 - 19. Or head to the BHA North American Rendezvous in Minneapolis, April 18 - 20.

And if you’re not yet a member, join us! When you gift, join, renew, or upgrade your BHA membership, you will receive 30% off MTNTOUGH monthly or yearly plans and automatically be entered to win a DECKED Drawer System. This special offer is only available through March 31, so act now! Join or renew at


Chapter news

Colorado BHA rewards efforts to stop illegal OHV use

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has long championed efforts to curtail illegal OHV use on public lands, which can significantly impact wildlife and habitat. Through the OHV Reward Fund, individuals who report illegal OHV use are eligible for monetary incentives; those rewards are doubled in Colorado thanks to matching funds from the state chapter.

Brothers Brad and Brian Phillips were recent reward recipients after they reported a vehicle driving on a route closed to motorized vehicles in the Gunnison National Forest. Thanks to their diligence, US Forest Service law enforcement was able to contact the offending vehicle and issue a citation for the violation. You can read the full story of the Phillips brothers’ efforts here. You can learn more about BHA’s illegal OHV use reward program, including how to submit for a reward, here.


Stewardship efforts in Colorado get a boost with new coordinator

Briant Wiles recently joined the BHA team as Colorado Habitat Stewardship Coordinator. Briant was born and raised in Lander, Wyoming, and has a Bachelor of Business Administration & Outdoor Recreation and a Master of Environmental Management from Western Colorado University. Briant was also the president of his local Trout Unlimited chapter for many years and worked on improving irrigation infrastructure, fish habitat, and stream restoration. In his new role, Briant will be spearheading stewardship efforts across the state, including playing a major role in our Colorado Public Lands Day event in Gunnison in May (see details below).


Colorado BHA Legislative Liaison appointed to Habitat Stamp Committee

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently appointed Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Legislative Liaison Ivan James to the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp Committee. The Habitat Stamp Committee is composed of nine members that represent the four quadrants of the state and makes funding recommendations for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program’s Request For Proposal process.​ The program works with private landowners and is a key tool for protecting habitat and creating recreational access, doling out nearly $190 million since its inception in 2002. With his extensive experience in policy, conservation, and in the field, there are few better suited than Ivan to bring the hunter-conservationist voice to this important effort.


Colorado policy updates

Landmark legislation signed to revitalize outdoor access in Colorado

New legislation signed by Gov. Polis in March will help secure public access to cherished landscapes by clarifying private landowner liability. The FixCRUS bill aims to give private landowners confidence that they would not be held liable when allowing the public to recreate for free on their land. The fix, which includes posting simple signage advising the public, will help open up several Colorado 14ers and have broader implications for additional areas. Colorado BHA strongly supported this legislation and was present for the bill’s signing, represented by BHA’s representative on the FixCRUS Coalition, Assistant Legislative Liaison Bryan Gwinn.


Momentum–and money–to make roads safer for wildlife

Colorado was the recent recipient of major federal grants aimed at creating safe passage for wildlife and increasing driver safety. Funding includes $22 million to create a wildlife overpass along I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as additional funding for other efforts across the state. The money was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Existing Colorado legislation that created a cash fund for the Colorado Department of Transportation to fund safe road crossing and connectivity projects and that provides for their ongoing maintenance helped put the state in a strong position to be awarded the federal grants.

Colorado BHA’s Jim McGannon serves as liaison to the Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Alliance, a multi-stakeholder group spearheading efforts to reduce transportation impacts on wildlife.


Upcoming events

Spring = stewardship at BHA. For an up-to-date list of all upcoming events see: Be sure to check back often as new events are being added.


May 17 - 19: Beers, Band and Barbed Wire Strands. Don’t miss Colorado BHA’s premiere event of the year! We’re once again celebrating Colorado Public Lands Day with a weekend-long bash in Gunnison combining food, drink, tunes, amazing giveaways, and high-impact habitat improvement projects. We’ll have onsite camping, a wild game potluck, and live music. For a glimpse at last year’s bash, check out the recap and video.

Learn more and sign up now at the event website: Beers, Bands, and Barbed Wire Strands 2024. This is one you won’t want to miss!


April 24: Pints for Public Lands is returning to the lively Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder’s Flatiron Park. This event is not just a night out; it's a celebration of our shared passion for preserving the right to hunt and fish in North America.

BHA is partnering with Upslope Brewing Company and onX for a BHA membership drive that includes over $2,000 in prizes from our great sponsors. Must be present to win! Drawing is April 24 between 7:30pm and 8:00pm.

April 26 - 28: Meeker Fence Removal and Lek Viewing. Come out for a unique weekend of stewardship combined with the rare opportunity to see the iconic sage grouse in action.

June 21 - 23: 15th Annual Colorado BHA Rendezvous. Mark the summer solstice with BHA! We’ll be gathering for a casual weekend of camaraderie at the Soap Creek Corral Dispersed Camping Area just west of Gunnison.


Around the campfire

Can’t wait for draw results to post? Why not reminisce about seasons past? Check out Chapter Treasurer Nathan Kettner’s recap of his family’s 2023 muzzleloader elk hunt: Miserable rainy hunt turns into muzzleloader success.


In case you missed it

Winter may be in the rearview mirror for many, but it’s still a good time to brush up on how to recreate responsibly in the colder months when wildlife are particularly vulnerable. Check out the Wintering Wildlife Conservation Initiative at Many of the same principles apply during the spring when many animals are birthing.


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