Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Team-Up with Pike National Forest (USFS) to Protect Habitat & Access

In Colorado, and on public lands nationwide, ATV/OHV overuse and abuse is increasingly impacting big game (and other wildlife) habitat and related watersheds for trout and other aquatic species. To help deter such public lands abuses, and encourage the reporting of lawbreakers to appropriate authorities, the Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) recently teamed-up with the US Forest Service-Pike National Forest (South Platte Field Office) to post ATV/OHV enforcement signage on trails where the Forest Service has detected illegal motorized access.
BHA Life Member, Steven Choromanski (Littleton, Colo.), was in the lead for Colorado BHA on this project, and said: “Most sportsmen can describe stalks ruined, peace and quiet shattered, and pack strings spooked by illegal OHVs. BHA works to protect and restore big, wild country entirely separate from the noise, pollution and disturbance that comes from OHVs and motor vehicles. At the same time, we recognize that there’s a place for OHVs—on existing roads. We’re very pleased to work with the Forest Service to help ensure OHVs stay on approve routes.”
Steven was assisted by his wife, Trish, BHA Denver (metro area) Group Leader, Ian DuClos, Habitat Watch Volunteer Program Coordinator, Don Holmstrom, Denver BHA member Jeff Finn and Ryan Dumville. They were assisted by USFS Pike National Forest recreation and travel manager, Scott Dollus. “Sixteen signs were installed,” Steven explained. “Mainly on closed roads where OHV encroachment has been historically a problem … four signs were left over and given to the Forest Service to place in other areas of concern and to replace any vandalized signs.”
Colorado BHA chapter chair, David Lien, said: “Since its inception, BHA has led the sportsmen’s community in safeguarding public lands habitat from fragmentation and disturbance from motorized abuse. Every year we hear more stories of big game stalks ruined by the indiscriminate use of off-road vehicles. We’re lucky to have chapter leaders like Steven who routinely take the initiative to help protect our public lands hunting and angling heritage from such abuses.”
“All told, I considered this a highly successful work effort,” Steven added. “We had a good time, hopefully made some headway in preventing illegal OHV use, made some good Forest Service contacts, and continued the positive interaction with BHA and FS officials. We know that public lands employees are increasingly being asked to do more with less. They greatly need and appreciated support from sportsmen and other groups in these efforts.”
The new BHA-FS ATV/OHV signs say (in part): “Don’t let the illegal riders and gate-busters degrade big game habitat and steal our hunting opportunities.” BHA reminds sportsmen to help maintain intact habitat and quality hunting opportunities by reporting illegal OHV use. As stated on the signs, we’re asking hunters and other public lands users who encounter illegal motorized users to report illegal off-road abuse by taking the following steps:
-Photograph or copy the license plate, ORV sticker or VIN.
-Photograph the vehicle, tracks or other evidence.
-Record a GPS or map location of the violation.
-Record: When, where, who, and what you saw.
Then, contact your game warden, local law enforcement or Forest Service/BLM law enforcement. BHA also offers a reward of up to $500 for information that leads to the conviction of anyone abusing land or water open to public hunting or fishing.
For example, in the past, awards have gone to a Montana hunter who used a remote trail camera to document illegal riding in protected big game habitat. An Idaho BHA member reported illegal use of an off-road vehicle in the Third Fork drainage on the Emmett Ranger District of the Boise National Forest. As a result of this action, an Ada County resident pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Motor Vehicle Use map on public lands. Another BHA member reported an outfitter who was illegally shuttling clients into a non-motorized area with a helicopter.
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Formed around an Oregon campfire in 2004, BHA is the sportsmen’s voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 15,000 members spread out across all 50 states and Canada, including 24 chapters in 35 states and two international chapters, in Alberta and British Columbia, BHA brings an authentic, informed, boots-on-the-ground voice to the conservation of public lands. Since the Colorado BHA chapter was founded by David Petersen (a U.S. Marine Corps veteran) in 2005 (the first official BHA chapter), they’ve grown their boots-on-the-ground presence to over 1,000 dedicated hunters and anglers.
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