“The natural world sustains us with clean air, unpolluted water, recreation,and natural resources. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.”
–Jim Posewitz, Beyond Fair Chase
Renowned trad bow elk hunter David Petersen (a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) founded the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers chapter—the first BHA state chapter—in 2005, not long after Mike Beagle (a former U.S. Army field artillery officer) called together a group of hunting-angling friends (the “Gang of Seven”) and stood around that prophetic campfire in southern Oregon where BHA was born during March 2004.
The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) has—despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—been adding new members, holding virtual events and engaging on numerous issues impacting our wild public lands, waters and wildlife along with growing our Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program and expanding our Chapter Leadership Team (CLT) and Executive Leadership Team (ELT).
For details/information on Colorado BHA’s work/accomplishments during the first half of 2020, see: “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Mid-Year Report/Update: June 2020.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/20/20.
Executive Leadership Team (ELT)/Board
Our Executive Leadership Team members (8 of us as of 2/6/21) are guided and inspired by the words of Colorado BHA founder David “Elkheart” Petersen: “You don’t inspire volunteers to action by decree from on high. Rather, you give them minimal direction and maximum freedom to do their own thing, within the realm of the group’s charter.” Our chapter values include/encompass:
- Inspire, Empower and Inform (IE&I = Motivate) our Chapter Leadership Team and Colorado BHA members. “It’s critical that CLT members are pursuing their ‘passion projects’ that fit within our mission … there is no one way to host a successful event, strengthen the chapter, or advance our mission.”
- “All of us are smarter than any of us”
- “When we all do a little, we accomplish a lot”
For additional information also see:
- “A Letter from CO Co-Chair David Lien.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/18/20.
- “Where Hope Lives: A Brief BHA History.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 11/30/20.
Chapter Leadership Team (CLT)
We welcomed a new Chapter Leadership Team member during December, bringing our CLT up to 37 members. Kellan Johnson volunteered to serve as an Assistant Regional Director for the Denver Metro Area Group. “Kellan is another outstanding addition to the Colorado BHA chapter leadership team and BHA family,” chapter co-chair David Lien said. “We need many more like him!”
Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) Program
During August, the Colorado chapter welcomed a new Habitat Watch Volunteer to the team: Michael (“Ack”) Ackerman volunteered as a HWV for the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. Thank you Michael! (for additional information also see: www.michaelackerman.org). Colorado BHA has over 40 HWVs serving as our “eyes and ears” in all eleven Colorado national forests. Contact HWV Program Coordinator Don Holmstrom ([email protected]) for additional information.
- Colorado State University (CSU) BHA chapter. Contact chapter president, Rylan Morgan, for additional information: [email protected]; [email protected]
- Western Colorado University (WCU) BHA chapter. Contact chapter president, Brendan Toft, for additional information: [email protected]; [email protected]
- Kylie Schumacher. “The Collegiate Quarterly: Celebrating Wins Despite A Difficult Year.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/18/20.
Central West Slope Assistant Regional Director Leslie Kaminski was recognized as BHA’s Chapter Leader of the Month for August 2020. Leslie is a rising star in the Colorado chapter and was the top fundraiser in the BHA Hike to Hunt Challenge, raising $2,125.00 and hiking 87 miles along the way. We can’t thank Leslie enough for her dedication!
“I receive more praise, motivation and encouragement from @backcountryhunters as a volunteer than I ever have at any of my salary careers,” Leslie said (on 12/23/20). “This organization has allowed me to help folks break into the hunting and fishing community … This is the ultimate learning environment, the ultimate ‘sky’s the limit’ community. Dream it big because there is a BHA army behind you to help your ideas move forward, no matter what. These are my folks. I have looked a long time for my niche … my crew … I am so lucky.”
Colorado’s hunting-angling-conservation community lost a strong voice for wildlands and wildlife when BHA member Kent Ingram passed away (on Aug. 28). Kent was a consummate hunter-angler-conservationist and his lifetime of advocacy on behalf of our wild public lands, waters and wildlife—while always going out of his way to recognize and facilitate the conservation work of others—speaks volumes about his character. RIP, Kent. Wildlands and wildlife need many more like you.
Colorado BHA Central West Slope Assistant Regional Director Adam Gall is owner and operator of Dark Timber Outfitters and a Colorado BHA corporate sponsor via his Chrysalis Brewery (in Paonia) partnership and their Chrysalis Barrel Aged Beers. Thank you Adam! For additional information see: Colorado BHA Corporate Partners.
Spearheaded by chapter Chair/Legislative Liaison Ivan James, the Colorado chapter worked hard to provide information voters needed to make informed decisions at the ballot box during November, preparing questionnaires that were sent to Colorado Candidates for National offices. To meet BHA’s 501.c.3 requirements, we needed at least two responses for any race to post. These were received for the U.S. Senate race and for House District 6. Check out our candidate questionnaire responses here.
“As an example of how bipartisan, or perhaps apolitical, public lands can be, [Hal] Herring [host of BHA’s Podcast & Blast] points to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, one of the most vocal pro–public lands advocacy groups in the country. In a poll … of its 40,000 members, the group was split almost equally between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.”
State Wildlife Areas (SWAs)
Recognizing that State Wildlife Areas (SWAs) are no longer just used by hunters and anglers, the Colorado BHA chapter supported a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission rule change requiring all visitors 18 or older to possess a valid hunting or fishing license to access any SWA or State Trust Land leased by CPW. This new rule went into effect on July 1, 2020. For anyone who cares about wildlands and wildlife in Colorado, buying a hunting or fishing license is one of the best ways to help protect them, whether or not you actually hunt or fish.
State Trust Lands
As stated in BHA’s 2020 Policy Roundup, “The Colorado Chapter helped secure the addition of public access to 200,000 acres of state trust lands that were previously not open to public hunting and angling. The chapter also was instrumental in lobbying the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include regulatory provisions that protect riparian areas, wildlife habitat and create opportunities for consideration of migration corridors in state leasing and permitting processes.”
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)
Colorado BHA was instrumental in lobbying the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include regulatory provisions that protect riparian areas, wildlife habitat and create opportunities for consideration of migration corridors in state leasing and permitting processes. During 2019, Colorado passed legislation installing paid, professional regulators as commissioners. BHA Conservation Director John Gale said: “What these rules will usher in is a much-needed balance, in consideration for things like fish and wildlife.”
We submitted comments supporting COGCC’s proposed rules to better protect our wildlife and the places they live. In addition, several chapter leaders/members also testified at COGCC meetings in support of the changes. Colorado BHA members know well that public lands have been a haven for hunters, anglers and outfitters for generations. They are home to pure strains of native trout, deer and elk herds, antelope, turkey, black bear and many other species. These new rules will serve to protect our entire state and way of life.
Colorado BHA co-chair Don Holmstrom adds: “BHA also submitted testimony and gave a presentation to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission in support of proposed regs. This included provisions that gave greater consideration to wildlife protection that were eventually adopted by the Commission.”
The rapid expansion of mechanized trails (both planned and illegal) across Colorado’s public lands during recent years is negatively impacting elk (and other wildlife) habitat. As a result, Colorado BHA engaged in multiple ways on numerous related issues during the second half of the year. Just one example includes participating in the Ouray Trail Development Comment Period. For additional information see:
- Craig Grother. “Colorado BHA Encourages Members to Participate in Ouray Trail Development Comment Period.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/31/20.
- Sylvia Kantor. “Seeking Ground Less Traveled: Elk Responses to Recreation.” Science Findings #219 (U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station): September 2019. https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi219.pdf
Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs)/Enforcement
While bow hunting for dusky grouse northwest of Gunnison, BHA member Will Shoemaker encountered an OHV user in an area closed to motorized/mechanized users. He documented the location of the vehicle with his cell phone camera, also taking a picture of the vehicle’s registration tag.
Will contacted the area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and provided him with the photos along with coordinates for where the OHV was located. Later, he received word that a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer had tracked down the OHV owner and issued a citation. Not long after, BHA’s State Policy Director Tim Brass reached out to inform Will that a $500 check was coming his way from BHA’s OHV Reward Fund. Thank you Will!
In late October, Colorado BHA member Troy Shenk took his 15-year-old son mule deer hunting in the mountains outside Paonia. En route, Shenk witnessed two other hunters operating ATVs on a route closed to motorized use, in clear violation of posted signs. With his knowledge of the regulations and the impacts of illegal OHV use on habitat, big game populations and the experiences of other hunters, Shenk chose to report this illegal activity to USFS Law Enforcement Officer Mike Fuller. Officer Fuller was able to follow up and issue citations to both hunters. In the process, he also cited two additional parties for violating posted trail use regulations.
As explained by Colorado BHA co-chair Don Holmstrom: “We also worked jointly with the Rio Grande National Forest in a signage project to help stop OHV abuse. A number of BHA reward signs were placed at trailheads with a number of others to be distributed in the late spring.”
- “New Oil/Gas Rules A Win for Hunters & Anglers.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 12/9/20.
- “Colorado Hunter Reports Illegal OHV Use, Forges Reward.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 11/23/20.
- “Colorado Elk Hunting: Backcountry Bull.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 11/12/20.
- Will Shoemaker. “Colorado BHA Member Reports Illegal OHV Use, Returns Reward.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 10/9/20.
- “Lien: Trump’s public lands (and CORE Act) tyranny.” Vail Daily News: 9/10/20.
- Gabby Zaldumbide, Kassi Smith, Emma Dunfee. “How to Build a Crawfish Trap-Women in the Woods.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/28/20.
- “New COGCC rules a win for hunters and anglers.” Glenwood Springs (Colo.) Post-Independent: 8/23/20 (scroll down).
- “COGCC must recognize value of wildlife to state’s economy.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 8/20/20 (scroll down).
- “Colorado Elk Hunting: Showing Up (Physically Fit) Is Half The Battle (& The Easy Half).” Colorado Outdoors: 8/7/20.
- Geordie Robinson, Colorado BHA Regional Director. “Canada Goose Shawarma.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/23/20.
- Kassi Smith, Colorado BHA Denver Metro Area Assistant Regional Director. “Women In The Woods: Carp Cooking Showdown.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/15/20.
- “State Wildlife Areas Deserve Everyone’s Support.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/15/20.
- “Lien: Trump’s BLM pick poisons the well.” Vail Daily: 7/7/20.
Upcoming Colorado BHA (& related) Activities/Meetings/Events: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/events
- June 10-12, 2021 - BHA North American Rendezvous in Missoula, MT. Chapter leader training on 6/10.
- July 23-25, 2021 (tentative) - CO BHA Rendezvous in the San Juan National Forest north of Durango/Bayfield
“BHA is here to make sure that we’re not the Americans who pissed away the greatest heritage of public lands the world has ever known.”
–T. Edward Nickens, BHA North American Board member
 Jim Posewitz. Beyond Fair Chase. Helena, Montana: Falcon Publishing, Inc., 1994, p. 108.
 Ryan Krogh. “‘Everything's for sale’: the shocking film on the privatization of American public lands (Public Trust highlights the 640m acres owned by the country’s citizenry, lands that some in the Republican party want to sell off).” The Guardian: 9/25/20. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/25/film-lays-bare-stakes-of-privatizing-us-public-lands
 Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). “Colorado State Wildlife Areas: New rules and what they mean for all Coloradans.” CPW News Release: 6/29/20. https://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/News-Release-Details.aspx?NewsID=7496
 “New COGCC rules a win for hunters and anglers.” Glenwood Springs (Colo.) Post-Independent: 8/23/20 (scroll down); “COGCC must recognize value of wildlife to state’s economy.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 8/20/20 (scroll down).
 Backcountry Hunters & Angers Headquarters. “Rendezvous Recap.” Backcountry Journal: Summer 2018, p. 12.