Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Colorado Chapter Newsletter Summer 2022
“What I stand for is what I stand on.” – Wendell Berry
Welcome to the first edition of our Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers quarterly newsletter. In it we’ll share key policy developments from Denver, Washington, and beyond; highlight some of the amazing, boots-on-the-ground conservation work being done across the state by BHA members like you; preview upcoming events you can engage in; and offer trip reports, how-to’s, short essays, and more that we hope you’ll find informative, interesting, or amusing (or all three!).
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Colorado Policy Updates
Vote public lands and waters this primary season!
The Colorado primary election date is June 28, 2022. Registered voters will receive mail-in ballots soon. Research your candidates well and consider voting for those who are most committed to our hunting and fishing traditions and the conservation of intact fish and wildlife habitat on our public lands and waters. Above all, please VOTE in this important primary election.
Court case could remake stream access
Colorado has some of the least favorable stream access laws in the country, but an important court case in the state, Hill v. Warsewa, could set a positive precedent. Citing the navigability for title doctrine, the Colorado Court of Appeals has held that Mr. Hill has standing to claim that the Arkansas River is navigable for title and subject to a trust on behalf of the public. This opinion doesn’t resolve the issue, but it’s a very important step forward. This case is headed to the Colorado Supreme Court and CO BHA will be monitoring it closely. Chapter Co-Chair Don Holmstron has long been engaged on stream access issues, including this case. See links to related posts/information below:
- BHA Podcast & Blast, Ep. 125: “Mark Squillace, Attorney, Legal Scholar, Public Access Expert.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/15/22.
- “Stream Access Case In Colorado Will Move Forward.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/28/22.
Safe Crossings for Colorado Wildlife and Motorists Bill (SB22-151)
Colorado sees more than 3,000 vehicle-wildlife collisions on average each year, but a new bill passed by the Colorado Legislature aims to bring that number down while strengthening landscape connectivity necessary for healthy wildlife populations. The bill creates a $5 million fund that can allow the state to access matching federal funds from the $350 million set aside for migratory corridors in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill will also assist private land conservation efforts to ensure landscapes adjacent to wildlife crossing projects remain intact and functional as wildlife habitat and corridors. See links to related posts/information below:
- Brett Jones, Colorado BHA Mesa County/Grand Valley group leader. “Pass legislation that will protect drivers and wildlife,” Grand Junction (Colo.), Daily Sentinel, 3/24/22.
Major Colorado public lands bill receives Congressional hearing
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act received an important committee hearing this spring and CO BHA is happy to see this bill move forward. The CORE Act provides important habitat protections that will have long-term benefits for wildlife. The future of our hunting and fishing heritage and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation depend on our ability to conserve intact landscapes and to address the needs of wildlife in the face of increasing and dynamic challenges, and we thank bill sponsors Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Representative Neguse for championing proactive public lands legislation. Learn more about the CORE Act and the next steps toward passage at https://coreact.org/.
Proposed ban on mountain lion & bobcat hunting defeated
When a bill (SB22-031) to ban bobcat, lynx, and lion hunting was introduced in the state Senate, the Colorado BHA Board quickly voted to engage in opposition. In less than a day our action alert drove over 12,000 messages to legislators. We also published a blog post, launched a paid digital ad campaign that linked to our action alert and generated over 20,000 emails. Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) Liaison Ryan McSparran testified at the state capitol on BHA’s behalf, noting the bill would “unravel” the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Thanks in part to the rapid and overwhelming response from BHA members like you, the bill was defeated in committee.
See links to related posts/information below:
- “The Colorado Bill To Ban Lion, Lynx, And Bobcat Hunting,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Jan. 14, 2022.
- Jason Blevins. “An attempt to ban mountain lion hunting in Colorado thrills animal activists, troubles hunters,” The Colorado Sun, Jan. 21, 2022.
- Tim Brass. “Defending the Public Trust,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Jan. 10, 2022.
Wrapping up rendezvous season
The Colorado BHA chapter held its 13th Annual Rendezvous in the San Isabel National Forest west of Salida June 10-12. Several dozen hunters and anglers from around the state set up camp in a high mountain meadow (known locally as the “goat wadi”) near 10,000 feet in the Sawatch Range. A local CPW representative joined the group for an information session and Q&A, followed by a wild game cookout featuring a wide range of dishes.
Colorado also had a strong showing at BHA’s 11th Annual North American Rendezvous, held at Fort Missoula in Montana from May 12-14. A contingent of Colorado BHA chapter leaders and members made the trip north, including Co-Chairs Don Holmstrom and David Lien, Communications Co-Chair Scott Heatwole, Northern Colorado Assistant Regional Director Jon Lang, and Southeast Colorado Assistant Regional Director Amber Leach. Colorado BHA member Justin Townsend, founder and editor-in-chief of Harvesting Nature, joined the BHA Armed Forces Initiative team for the Wild Game Cook-off. Colorado-based members of BHA’s North American headquarters staff were also in attendance: Tim Brass (State Policy and Field Operations Director), John Gale (Conservation Director), and Brien Webster (CO/WY Chapter Coordinator and Program Manager).
Colorado BHA Women in the Woods program introduces women to trout fishing through Fly Girls Event
BHA members Amber Leach and Chyanne Davis wanted to create a women’s-only event to introduce people to fly-fishing and all things trout-related—hopefully by getting a few to the net.
Focusing on Pueblo, Chyanne contacted CPW to see if they'd be willing to host the event and they were more than glad to help. Registration filled up in less than two days! They then recruited Michele White, owner of Tumbling Trout Fly Shop in Lake George and a tremendous BHA supporter, to help with the hands-on instruction. Michele then recruited several mentors and guides from Colorado Women Fly Fishers and the Pikes Peak Chapter of Trout Unlimited, who turned out in force simply to help. Michele provided everything: rods, flies, waders, boots.
Nearly everyone landed fish, many of them landed several. The group ran into a man fishing who asked how his wife, who was watching from the shore, could get involved next time. They put her in waders on the spot, and she was able to land a few fish!
The women were full of questions about opportunities to get involved with the hunting and fishing community and CPW helped to answer several of those questions. Amber says, “Chyanne and I are still beside ourselves at how well received this event was, but we're excited to get something else put together as a follow-up.”
Stepping up to stop illegal trails
Colorado BHA is offering a $500 award for reports or information leading to a conviction of those responsible for illegal trails on public lands. Led by Boulder County Assistant Regional Director Kris Hess and originating in the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest, the effort now covers public lands across the state. As Hess notes, “Illegal trails destroy wildlife habitat by creating higher-density recreation traffic and ultimately displace wildlife or alter natural patterns of the ecosystem.” You can learn more about the initiative here: “Reward For Illegal Trail Construction Offered By Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, 1/31/22.
Fence removal on critical elk and deer winter range.
On June 1, 25 volunteers including local staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and members of BHA worked together to improve wildlife habitat on the Almont Triangle between Gunnison and Crested Butte. The Almont Triangle provides important habitat for deer, elk, and Gunnison sage grouse, and is important winter range. Thanks to volunteers from the Gunnison and Crested Butte area, there are now two fewer miles of fence within important wildlife habitat.
For an up-to-date list of upcoming events, see: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/co_upcoming_events.
- June 25: Women in the Woods – Rifle Sight-in, Brighton, CO
- June 25: Buffalo Creek Guzzler Project, Pine, CO
- July 16: Women in the Woods – Shotgun Clinic, Brighton, CO
- July 23-24: Hike-to-Fish, Heart Lake Trailhead, James Peak Wilderness
- August 27: Lincoln Mountain Fence Removal Project, Larkspur, CO
- July 8-9: Fence Removal, Dan Noble SWA
- July 9-10: Roan Plateau Stewardship Project, Rifle, CO
- July 17: Intro to Bowhunting, Glenwood Springs, CO
- July 28: Wet Meadow Restoration, Gunnison, CO
- July 30-31: Women in the Woods Backpacking Intro, Middle Fork Cimarron Trail, Uncompahgre NF
Hunting Mountain Merriam’s…and Gettin’ Schooled
“At dawn multiple toms were gobbling from the roost within earshot of camp. We set out from our San Juans backcountry camp with confidence. After playing cat-and-mouse with a flock for much of the morning, we found ourselves surrounded by gobbling toms seemingly running circles around us, showing themselves from afar and occasionally moving in our direction but staying beyond shotgun range. Then a tom responding to hen calls moved upslope directly to our front…”
Find out if Chapter Co-chair David Lien was able to bag that tom, and get great tips for hunting backcountry mountain turkeys, here.
In case you missed it
BHA President & CEO Land Tawney appeared on CBS Saturday Morning to explain why hunting, fishing, and conservation go hand-in-hand: https://youtu.be/0felZna6xlo.
Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers