Colorado BHA Q2 2021 Update

The Colorado chapter has welcomed four new Habitat Watch Volunteers (HWVs) so far this year, including: Derek Pankratz, Gunnison National Forest; Eric Lomas, Pike National Forest; Robert Benjamin, San Juan National Forest; and Eric Jones, Arapaho National Forest.[1]

“Despite the trials and tribulations we’ve all faced during the last year-plus, one only need look to the growing ranks of selfless, boots-on-the-ground Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteers for inspiration,” said chapter co-chair David Lien (a former Air Force officer). “Dedicated hunter-angler-conservationists like Derek, Eric, Robert and Eric are collectively making a difference for wildlands and wildlife every day, following in the footsteps of America’s greatest hunter-conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, who said: ‘Do what you can with what you have where you are.’”[2]

The Colorado BHA chapter’s 45 Habitat Watch Volunteers are following TR’s advice, serving as our “eyes and ears” in all eleven Colorado national forests. Contact HWV Program Coordinator Don Holmstrom ([email protected]t) for additional information. Also see: Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program information.

Kassi Smith volunteered to serve on our Executive Leadership Team (ELT)/Board as an at-large ELT member. “Empowering leaders is in BHA’s DNA and we’re lucky to have another outstanding leader join the Colorado chapter Executive Leadership Team,” co-chair David Lien added. “Kassi is a selfless, tireless defender of wildlands and wildlife and a welcome addition to the Colorado BHA family. We need many more like her!”[3]

Colorado BHA Legislative Liaison Ivan James was recognized in The Holton Recorder (see: “Wildlife Habitat Award” in the 2/10/21 issue, p. 6A) for establishing wildlife habitat on his land near Circleville, Kansas.[4] Colorado BHA Central West Slope Regional Director Craig Grother was recognized as BHA’s Member of the Month for February 2021. 

During January 2015, Craig was also recognized as BHA’s Volunteer of the Month. In addition, during 2013 Craig was the recipient of BHA’s Aldo Leopold Award.[5] This award is presented by the North American BHA Board and recognizes significant contributions towards preserving wildlife habitat.[6]

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has been working on revising their “Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind” handbook. During the handbook revision process, Colorado BHA leaders Brien Webster and Craig Grother were included as members of the citizens advisory group to provide comments and perspectives as sportsmen and wildlife advocates. 

In addition, Craig worked with Dave Armlovich for six months developing a GIS Analysis and Report to help shape the future management of the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest to better benefit wildlife. See the report (“The GMUG: A Vision For Wildlife”) here. 

Colorado BHA donated $2,500 to help fund the San Juan River Access Project, a stakeholder effort to expand access and conserve 12.2 miles on the San Juan River. This effort is being led by the Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership and includes stakeholders representing CPW, anglers, recreationists, conservationists, tribes, ranchers and local governments to name a few. Improvements will include the construction of a new boat ramp, parking lot, and elimination of trespass issues. 

We partnered with CPW to host a virtual event (on February 23) exclusively focused on the Youth Draw. This event was free and featured outstanding speakers, information, and prizes. We also hosted a virtual e-scouting seminar (on March 18) that included four speakers covering the different platforms and resources available, how to find public land (mainly in Colorado), tips for cross-referencing information and doing boots-on-the-ground scouting, as well as specific species considerations. In addition, on April 8 we held our first 2021 Pint Night at Monumental Beer Works in Grand Junction.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed (on Feb. 26) the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (HR 803), which aims to preserve some three million acres across Colorado, California, Washington and Arizona. The legislation is a collection of nine separate public lands bills the House approved last year–including Rep Diana DeGette’s Colorado Wilderness Act (CWA) and Rep. Joe Neguse’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act.[7]

Unfortunately, two of our U.S. House Reps. are misinformed about the positive economic (and other) impacts of HR 803. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) incorrectly stated that this bill would “work against local economies” and is a “threat to … local economies.”[8] Meanwhile, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) called the bill a “Democrat land grab.”[9] Colorado’s hunters and anglers disagree. HR 803 will serve to protect and perpetuate our robust outdoor recreation economy by ensuring our great public lands estate remains intact. Now is the time to push this bill across the finish line.[10]

Top Chapter Highlights:

  1. Colorado BHA welcomed four new Habitat Watch Volunteers, including: Derek Pankratz, Gunnison National Forest; Eric Lomas, Pike National Forest; Robert Benjamin, San Juan National Forest; and Eric Jones, Arapaho National Forest.[11]
  2. Kassi Smith volunteered to serve on our Executive Leadership Team (ELT)/Board as an at-large ELT member.[12]
  3. Central West Slope Regional Director Craig Grother was recognized as BHA’s Member of the Month for February 2021.[13]

[1] “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Derek Pankratz, Gunnison NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/29/21; “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Eric Lomas, Pike NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/26/21; Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Robert Benjamin, San Juan NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/18/21 ; “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Eric Jones, Arapaho NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/11/21.

[2] Editor. Quotations of Theodore Roosevelt. Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2004, p. 11

[3] “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint Executive Leadership Team [Kassi Smith] Member.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/29/21.

[4] Editor(s). “Wildlife Habitat Award-James honored for establishing wildlife habitat on his land near Circleville.” The Holton Recorder: 2/10/21, p. 6A.

[6] “Colorado BHA Chapter Leader [Craig Grother] Recognized.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/1/21.

[7] Katie McKalip. “House Votes To Advance Package of Public Lands Bills.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/26/21.

[9] Miguel Otárola and Caitlyn Kim. “With US House Approval, Colorado Public Lands Bills Move On To The Senate—Again.” CPR News: 2/26/21.

[10] “Colorado BHA Supports HR 803 (Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/18/21; “Protecting America’s Wilderness.” Aspen Daily News: 3/6/21.

[11] “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Derek Pankratz, Gunnison NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/29/21; “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Eric Lomas, Pike NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/26/21; Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Robert Benjamin, San Juan NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/18/21 ; “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint [Eric Jones, Arapaho NF] Habitat Watch Volunteer.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/11/21.

[12] “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint Executive Leadership Team [Kassi Smith] Member.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/29/21.

[13] “Colorado BHA Chapter Leader [Craig Grother] Recognized.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/1/21. 

About David Lien

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