Colorado BHA Chapter Newsletter, Summer 2024

“The solution to any problem–work, love, money, whatever–is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.”

John Gierach, Standing in a River Waving a Stick


Welcome to the Summer 2024 edition of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ newsletter! We're excited to bring you the latest updates from our chapter, including highlights from our successful Colorado Public Lands Day event in Gunnison, groundbreaking conservation initiatives, and notable recognitions within our community. Learn about our new Assistant Regional Director, policy updates, and the collaborative efforts to protect the Dolores River watershed. Plus, discover upcoming events and dive into recent research on the impact of recreation noise on wildlife. There's plenty to celebrate and get involved with this summer—read on for all the details!

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Chapter news

Beers, Bands, and Barbed Wire Strands in Gunnison

Conservationists from across Colorado gathered in Gunnison from May 17-19 to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day with style and stewardship. The event kicked off Friday with a wild-game potluck featuring mountain lion chili, a whole grilled deer leg, and more. On Saturday, dozens of volunteers fanned out to multiple locations to remove miles of obsolete fencing, improving habitat for a variety of wildlife. The group celebrated that evening with food, drinks, live music, and more than $12,000 of giveaways from amazing sponsors. Many thanks to all who turned out and made our second annual event a success!

Colorado BHA receives funding to deploy new grassland conservation tech

Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers received a $313,200 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for wildlife and grasslands conservation in southern Colorado. BHA staff, land management agencies, and ranchers will be utilizing virtual fencing, a new technology that helps move domestic livestock in efficient grazing patterns to improve habitat quality in essential forage areas. This project will span 10,774 acres and benefit elk, pronghorn, and greater sage-grouse. Alongside this virtual fencing project, this grant will continue to support the removal of obsolete fencing in Colorado.

Dan Parkinson with Randy Newberg at the North American Rendezvous. Photo Credit: David Lien

Colorado BHA board member recognized at North American Rendezvous

Chapter board member Dan Parkinson was given the prestigious Aldo Leopold Award at the BHA North American Rendezvous in April, recognizing his tireless work to protect Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in southwest Colorado. Dan has been engaged on wild sheep and other conservation issues for years, and his efforts have yielded important protections for sheep through collaborative grazing allotment extinguishments. Congratulations, Dan!

New Central Rockies Assistant Regional Director appointed

In May, Colorado BHA named Jerod Swanson as a new Assistant Regional Director in the Central Rockies region. Jerod is originally from Fort Collins and now lives in Frisco, having spent many formative years in between in Minnesota.

Colorado policy updates

Colorado BHA joins in opposition to lion hunting ban ballot initiative

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and science-based wildlife management is under threat on multiple fronts, including by so-called “ballot box biology.” That’s why Colorado BHA has joined with nearly 20 other conservation and sportsmen’s groups to oppose proposed ballot initiative #91, which would ban mountain lion and bobcat hunting in Colorado. Working under the banner of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project (CWCP), BHA will continue efforts to counter this threat to time-tested wildlife management practices.

Sportsmen for the Dolores

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Trout Unlimited (TU) launched the Sportsmen for the Dolores River Coalition. This initiative aims to protect the fish and wildlife habitat and ensure sustainable sporting opportunities within the Dolores River watershed in Colorado. The Dolores River is renowned for its exceptional hunting and fishing opportunities but is currently threatened by various environmental pressures.

Sportsmen for the Dolores supports the Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act, championed by Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper along with Representative Boebert. This legislation would conserve nearly 70,000 acres of public lands, which would be managed to enhance fishing and hunting opportunity. Further north along the Dolores River a national monument designation is currently being discussed and vetted. When created with the input of sportsmen and sportswomen, national monuments are an effective tool for protecting areas important to hunting and fishing on federal public land.

I-25 wildlife crossing project get underway in 2025

Construction is slated to begin early next year on a new wildlife overpass spanning I-25 in Douglas County, according to Jim McGannon, BHA liaison to the Colorado Wildlife & Transportation Alliance. The overpass was made possible by a $22 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration and will improve habitat connectivity and road safety along the busy interstate.

Upcoming events

Stewardship season is in full swing, with events planned around the state in the coming months, including Montrose, Gunnison, Hayden, Bond, Rifle, Norwood, and Eagle.

The Colorado BHA Armed Forces Initiative (AFI) group will also be hosting events later this summer. The Ft. Carson AFI group will be holding a 3D archery shoot on August 10 at the Cheyenne Mountain State Park Archery Range in Colorado Springs. This event is open to anyone, so come out for a fun shoot and a chance to win some prizes. AFI will also be holding a fence pull event open to all BHA members on the east side of the Mosquito Range near Fairplay, CO on August 17.

For additional details and an up-to-date list of all upcoming events see: Be sure to check back often as new events are being added.

Around the campfire

New research highlights the impact of recreation noise on wildlife

A recent paper published in the journal Current Biology finds that just noise from recreationists–including from vocal groups of hikers and mountain bikers–can cause animals to flea an area and stay away for extended periods of time. The study, which took place in the Bridger-Teton National Forest of Wyoming, found the greatest impacts on elk and the least impact on predator species like mountain lions. 

Learn more about the study’s findings

In case you missed it

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership highlights women in hunting in Colorado

TRCP’s Liz Rose writes, “In 2023, a record-breaking 84,384 women and girls applied for Colorado big game hunting tags, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2024 data shows. Compare that to the 2016 primary draw, when 48,541 women and girls applied for Colorado deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and bear tags. So since 2016, 35,843 more women from Colorado and out-of-state put their application strategies and luck to the test. Colorado’s big game license application numbers overall continue to break records, and women are keeping pace. The percentage of Colorado big game license applicants who self-reported as female has risen from 10.7% in 2016 to 11.2% in 2023. 

While women still only make up about 11% of all Colorado big game license applicants, 84,000 women trying to harvest wild game in Colorado represents an enormous amount of preparation, skill development, curiosity, personal growth, and hopefully when it’s all said and done, good food in the freezer. We’re all out here to pursue fish and wildlife, learn, avoid emails, and enjoy quality time with people we like (or by ourselves!), and I’m here to celebrate it.” Cheers to that!

About Derek Pankratz

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