September 3, 2014
RE: McArthur Gulch SLT
Dear State Trust Land Commissioners:
A matter has been brought to our attention which we respectfully wish to provide comment on. At the present time, a proposal is under consideration that jeopardizes hunter access and sound habitat stewardship on Colorado’s state lands.
On August 8, 2014, the State Land Board approved a recommendation that the staff be directed to complete negotiations with an entity known as Human Movement Management ("HMM") for a recreation lease on the 480 acre McArthur Gulch state trust land parcel in Park County, off Country Road 64, between the communities of Bailey and Shawnee.
The McArthur Gulch SLT has been available public access lands to archery and muzzleloading hunters for many years. A loss of public access would be a major loss to hunters and to CO Parks & Wildlife, which has identified hunter access as one of its primary strategic goals. In addition, the property has been leased for agricultural use for the past 61 years by a family that has ensured the ongoing stewardship of the habitat. Removal of hunter access and potential habitat destruction without an opportunity for public comment or assessment by appropriate governmental and not-for-profit stakeholders is of great concern to us.
The information made available to date makes no reference consultations with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado State Forest Service, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife prior to the State Land Board’s recommendation to complete negotiation. We believe that various federal, state, or local agencies have information and interests that could inform the Board's consideration of the impact of 10,000 person events and other aspects of HMM's application.
This habitat holds elk calving grounds; is in close proximity to goshawk nesting areas; provides potential habitat for the Preble’s Mouse and falls within the migration path of reintroduced lynx. Our mission in many ways parallel’s that of the State Land Board in that we too are charged with "protecting and enhancing the long term value and productivity of trust assets through the application of sound stewardship" (June 25, 2014, Management of Trust Assets Policy, Colorado State Land Trust Board). For us, this includes the protection of both game and non-game species and their respective habitats.
We understand that the State Land Trust Board must consider the economics of the assets under their management. In the HMM proposal, additional revenue would be generated in comparison to the traditional agricultural and recreation operations currently underway. However, it does not take into account the economic impact on the community and statewide when faced with lose of hunter access and habitat degradation, while at the same time increasing county and tax payer commitments for infrastructure - infrastructure that is currently providing positive economic impact over several months of annual recreational activity rather than short bursts available through the proposed events.
We recognize that you are charged with making tough decisions between maintain traditional land uses and converting these lands to more developed, profitable uses. However, in light of the many concerns we’ve outlined, we ask that you delay the negotiation of the proposed lease until such time that appropriate stakeholders can be given the opportunity to provide formal comment.
Please let us know if there is any other way that we can help ensure that public hunting access and wildlife habitat is maintained on this property.
Southern Rockies Coordinator
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers