Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) was born around a campfire in March 2004, thanks to seven hunters and anglers, men and women, taking the initiative. That’s how all battles are begun and won! In fact, BHA was founded by former U.S. Army officer, Mike Beagle. The “Gang of Seven” that gathered around our founding campfire also included a U.S. Navy veteran, Tony Heckard.
The first state chapter, here in Colorado, was founded (in 2005) by a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot, David “Elkheart” Petersen, who was also the recipient of BHA’s 2013 Mike Beagle Chairman’s Award. And the first BHA North American Rendezvous (in 2012) was held at Fort Missoula (established by the U.S. Army in 1877) in Montana. Some 14 percent of BHA members are military service members or veterans, twice the U.S. average.
We encourage all chapter leaders and members to take the initiative on whatever you have the drive/energy/interest to pursue within the broad parameters of BHA’s wildlands and wildlife preservation mission. Contact your local/regional Colorado BHA Group leaders for additional information (or contact us at [email protected]) and see some examples of what we’ve been doing/working on lately below.
Top Chapter Highlights
- Co-Chair Don Holmstrom is leading our Stream Access Initiative (SAI) and was interviewed by the New York Times regarding the Hill v. Warsewa case that is set to be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court.
- New chapter leaders include: Bryan Gwinn (Assistant Legislative Liaison); Blake Mamich (Southwest Colo. Assistant Regional Director (ARD)); Chris Parmeter (Gunnison Valley Group ARD); Phil Armstrong (Roaring Fork/Eagle Valleys Group ARD). John Howard (CPW Liaison); ARD Brittany Parker is BHA’s new Stewardship Coordinator.
- We held our 13th Annual Rendezvous in the San Isabel National Forest west of Salida.
“Our most important asset is our volunteers.”
Chapter Leadership Team Updates
(47 Chapter Leadership Team Members/46 Habitat Watch Volunteers)
As detailed in the Chapter Highlights above, we’ve added five new members (Bryan Gwinn, Blake Mamich, Chris Parmeter, Phil Armstrong and John Howard) to the Chapter Leadership Team (CLT). In addition, current CLT member Brittany Parker has accepted the new BHA Stewardship Coordinator role and will be the fourth BHA staff person based in Colorado.
Brittany will be primarily engaged this field season on fence removal projects in northwest Colorado, but as we start to transition to the winter months the scope of this work will expand to help support and plan stewardship projects across the state for the upcoming field season.
Other BHA staffers in Colorado include: Brien (“Army of One”) Webster (Program Manager and Colorado and Wyoming Chapter Coordinator); Tim Brass (State Policy and Field Operations Director); and, John Gale (Conservation Director). We also have Habitat Watch Volunteers (HWVs) who serve as our “eyes and ears” in all eleven Colorado national forests. Contact HWV Program Coordinator Don Holmstrom ([email protected]) for additional information. See the links/information below for more information about our CLTs/HWVs and other members.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint John Howard Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Liaison.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/22/22.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint Phil Armstrong Roaring Fork/Eagle Valley Group Assistant Regional Director.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/28/22.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint Chris Parmeter Gunnison Valley Group Assistant Regional Director.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/28/22.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint (Blake Mamich) Southwest Colorado Assistant Regional Director.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/2/22.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Appoint (Bryan Gwinn) Assistant Legislative Liaison.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/29/22.
- Colorado BHA Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) program information.
- “Colorado BHA State Chapter Leadership (Triad) Structure.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/26/21.
- “Empowering Leaders: It’s In BHA’s DNA.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/7/21.
Armed Forces Initiative-Colorado (Fort Carson)
We are excited that BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative (AFI) is prioritizing Fort Carson in Colorado Springs for one of the programs newest installations/clubs. Fort Carson will act as a hub to grow our AFI programming in Colorado and we’re looking forward to the chapter and the AFI program working together more in the months and years ahead.
AFI Communications Director Justin Townsend is an active duty Coast Guard officer (he’s also Editor-in-Chief of Harvesting Nature: www.harvestingnature.com) and is stationed in Colorado Springs. Justin can be contacted at: [email protected].
“AFI resonates with the veteran and military community because it provides a sense of purpose. In creating the program, we were very conscious that we didn’t want just a hunting/fishing club, and we didn’t want to provide a one-time semi-guided experience; we wanted to provide the knowledge, skills and opportunities to create conservation leaders. From the start, our mantra was: ‘Our goal is to give veterans and service members a new mission, and that mission is conservation.’” -Ryan Burkert, AFI Veteran Programs Lead
- BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative. “Armed Forces Initiative-Get Involved.”
- “Meet Trevor Hubbs, AFI’s New Field Marshall.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/28/22.
- Trevor Hubbs. “You Can’t Cheat The Mountain.” Bugle: May/June 2022.
- Trevor Hubbs. “A Toast To Fallen Comrades.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/15/22.
- Trevor Hubbs. “BHA Armed Forces Initiative 2022 Work Plan.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/3/22.
- Become An AFI Volunteer; Armed Forces Initiative Leadership.
- Contact Trevor Hubbs at: [email protected].
- Trevor Hubbs. “AFI Colorado Bear.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/7/22.
- Trevor Hubbs. “BHA Armed Forces Camp Colorado 3rd Rifle-Veterans Day Elk Camp.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/7/22.
- The BHA Armed Forces Initiative (AFI) is hosting 18 veterans on a wilderness canoe trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the vicinity of Ely, MN from August 24-30. For additional information see: Trevor Hubbs. “AFI Boundary Waters Canoe Area.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/10/22.
- “Mining near Boundary Waters too risky.” Duluth News Tribune: 7/3/22.
- “Sulfide mining and greenwashing.” Grand Rapids (Minn.) Herald-Review: 6/21/22.
- “Protecting the Boundary Waters includes for veterans.” Duluth News Tribune: 5/24/22.
- “There has never been a copper/sulfide mine that hasn’t leached. Never,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney said. “Right now, the future of the Boundary Waters hangs in the balance … There shall be no mine here … not ever … not on BHA’s watch.”
- Katie McKalip. “Boundary Waters Conservation Advanced By Administration.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/24/22.
- Take Action to support the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 2794): https://www.backcountryhunters.org/take_action#/132
- Comment on the Environmental Assessment for a proposed 20-year moratorium on mining on federal public lands in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/take_action#/291
Chapter Communications Update-Derek Pankratz & Scott Heatwole
- Communications Co-Chair Derek Pankratz spearheaded our first (Summer 2022) Colorado BHA Newsletter (link below).
- If you have an event you’d like to promote on social media, reach out to Communications Co-Chair Scott Heatwole and include a caption and image so he can post on Instagram.
- As you’ve likely surmised, Scott is handling social media and Derek will be generating the chapter newsletter and assisting with other long-form content. Let them know (contact info. below) if you are interested in assisting/contributing in any way.
- “CO BHA Summer Newsletter.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/13/22.
- CO BHA Communications Co-Chair (Scott Heatwole, Castle Rock): [email protected]
- CO BHA Communications Co-Chair (Derek Pankratz, Gunnison): [email protected]
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA)
- As many of you know, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) will annually invest $1.4 billion in state/tribal management agencies. This bill has passed out of the House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate. If passed, it will likely be the landmark conservation achievement during our lifetimes.
- On June 14, 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act with bipartisan support. See BHA’s press release here. And ask your senator today to support RAWA!
- “Leopold once said, ‘To save every cog and wheel is the first precaution of the intelligent tinkerer.’ The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act follows Aldo’s lead; in a world where everything is connected, everything matters. RAWA would dedicate $1.4 billion annually to help state and tribal fish and wildlife management agencies proactively manage at-risk species and prevent them from being added to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. Sports enthusiasts know that the best defense is a good offense—RAWA is an offensive maneuver, fighting for healthy wildlife and ecosystems before we are backed up to our goal line.” –Zack Williams. “A Good Offense.” Backcountry Journal: Fall 2019, p. 83.
OHV/Illegal Trails Reward Program/Initiative
Boulder County Assistant Regional Director (ARD) Kris Hess has been spearheading our efforts to work with public lands (state and federal) agencies and other groups to address illegal trail building. BHA offers up to $500 in reward for reports or information leading to a conviction of illegal motorized/mechanized users. This reward program also applies to illegal e-bike use, illegal dumping, and illegal trail construction.
So why are illegal trails a problem now and why do they need more attention? The answer lies in the Colorado population of approximately 5.8 million (2021) which naturally creates a larger recreation user base. Today’s population is double the 2.9 million people in Colorado in 1980! More people, more recreation, and increased access to electronic maps and information (e.g., Strava, All Trails, CalTopo) that help people find new trails.
Illegal trails are created by all user groups. However, in many areas mountain bike specific trail building dominates. Although the emphasis on the mountain biking community creates tension amongst user groups, BHA sees the involvement of the organized mountain bike community in addressing illegal trails as one of the most important steps forward.
- Spencer McKee. “City reports 60 miles of illegal trails in 1.25-square-mile park in Colorado.” OutThereColorado: 6/28/22.
- Kris Hess, Boulder County Assistant Regional Director. “Colorado outdoors: Help preserve it.” Daily Camera: 4/3/22 (scroll down).
- “Reward For Illegal Trail Construction Offered By Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/31/22.
- Brittany Parker. “Trails Based Recreation And Its Impacts On Wildlife.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/31/22.
- “Trails vs. Elk: ‘They’re Just Dying Off.’” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 12/3/21.
- “Colorado BHA Report: Impacts of Off-Road Recreation on Public Lands Habitat.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/21/18.
Stream Access Initiative (SAI)
Chapter Co-Chair Don Holmstrom has long been engaged on our stream access initiative (SAI) and is tracking an important court case here in Colorado (Hill v. Warsewa) that could set positive precedent for stream access through the navigability for title doctrine. Unfortunately, Colorado has some of the worst stream access laws in the nation on the books.
The Colorado Court of Appeals has held that Mr. Hill has standing to claim that the Arkansas River is navigable for title and subject to a trust on behalf of the public. This opinion didn’t resolve the issue, but it’s a very important step forward. Don was also recently interviewed by the New York Times and we are working to convene a stream access coalition. If the Colorado Supreme Court upholds the Colorado Court of Appeals decision, we will have an unprecedented opportunity to push for real improvements to stream access in Colorado.
In addition, Don is working with Tim Brass and Brien Webster on developing a chapter stream access engagement plan. We are in the process of gathering intel on historic efforts, actors, and moments to inform our strategy. We’re also in the process of developing a memo that will outline strategic pathways based on potential outcomes of the Hill v. Warsewa case. Bryan Gwinn, one of our chapter’s policy leads, will be joining this effort and if others are interested in engaging, we would gladly welcome the help.
- Travis Hall. “How One 80-Year Old Angler Might Change Colorado Stream Access Forever.” MeatEater: 3/29/22.
- Mark Squillance. “Stand Up For Access.” Writers On The Range: 2/28/22.
- BHA Podcast & Blast, Ep. 125: Mark Squillace, Attorney, Legal Scholar, Public Access Expert.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/15/22.
- “Stream Access Case In Colorado Will Move Forward.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/28/22.
Outstanding Waters Protections
- Under the Clean Water Act of 1972, states and Tribes can designate rivers as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs) for a variety of reasons, including high water quality, exceptional recreational or ecological significance, or the existence of cold-water thermal refuges. ONRWs, which go by different names in different states, maintain water quality, protect fish, wildlife, or other ecological values, and support recreation. An ONRW designation prohibits new or increased pollution on a waterway, although it does not affect existing rights, such as grazing or irrigation.
- During June, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission was soliciting input on whether or not 26 headwater streams with exceptionally clean water in the Animas, Dolores, Gunnison, San Juan, and San Miguel river basins deserve critical Outstanding Waters (OW) protections. See this petition from the San Juan Citizens Alliance for additional information.
- “Outstanding Waters (OW) is a Colorado state designation for streams, rivers, and other water bodies that have exceptional water quality and other values that should be protected. OW is part of the Outstanding National Resource Waters, derived from the Clean Water Act designation, overseen by the EPA but implemented by individual states. It’s an underutilized tool in protecting local waters and offers some of the highest levels of water protection in the state.” For additional information also see: John Sztukowski. “Outstanding Waters in the Arkansas River Basin.” Landscapes: May 2022, p. 4.
Safe Crossings for Colorado Wildlife and Motorists Bill (SB22-151)
On May 10, 2022, Colorado passed S.B 151, the bipartisan Safe Crossings for Colorado Wildlife and Motorists Act, which creates a $5 million cash fund to provide safe road crossings for wildlife and to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. This bill also provides the state with matching funds needed to leverage the $350 million in federal grants for wildlife corridors recently established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Across Colorado’s 23,300 miles of highway, nearly 4,000 vehicle crashes involving wildlife are reported to law enforcement annually. It is estimated that 2% of Colorado’s big game population is killed by wildlife-vehicle collisions every year, equal to the total number of animals harvested each year through hunting.
Wildlife corridors and connectivity increase public safety and are highly effective at reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and the costs associated with medical expenses, property damage, and the value of animals lost. For example, the 2016 Colorado Highway 9 mitigation project reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions by 92% in the 5 years after its construction.
Trails/State Grant Program
Colorado BHA Central West Slope Regional Director Craig Grother has been one of our chapter’s staunchest advocates for much needed reforms to the state’s Non-Motorized Recreational Trail Grant Application Process and for protecting wildlands and wildlife from the proliferation of motorized and mechanized trails.
This letter (link below) was authored by Craig Grother and John Gale, BHA Policy and Government Relations Director. It was sent to the Telluride Mountain Club regarding mountain biking trail development proposals we’ve been monitoring and remain concerned about. The Hidden Lake trail referenced in the letter had some momentum, but we have been able to curtail this. It is important that we keep a close eye on trails proposals, especially when they are in close proximity to wildlife habitat.
Please reach out to the Colorado Chapter at [email protected] if there are trails proposals in your area that would have negative wildlife impacts.
- Craig Grother. “CO BHA Comments On State Trails Policy: Public Comment-State Trails Program Policy and Grants.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/1/22.
- Craig Grother. “CO BHA Comments On Hidden Lakes Trail Proposal.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/27/22.
- “Comments on CPW Non-Motorized Recreational Trail Grant Application Process.” Colorado BHA: 1/10/18.
- Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Colorado’s 2021 Guide for Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind.” Appendix A includes standard protocols for how and where the trails are developed (i.e., Avoid, Minimize, Mitigate). The Guide recommends limiting trail densities to less than 1 linear mile of trail per square mile in mapped bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer winter concentration areas and production areas. A 300-foot buffer for wetlands is widely accepted.
Trails vs. Elk
As detailed in a 2018 Colorado BHA report (“Impacts of Off-Road Recreation on Public Lands Habitat”), “Wildlife habitat in Colorado is being significantly impacted by the proliferation of mechanized (i.e., mountain bike) and motorized (ATV/OHV) trails on public lands. Sportsmen and wildlife managers are finding that elk hunting opportunities, in particular, are being compromised by trail development in many parts of the state.”
Routt County, for example, has seen the resident elk herd of GMU-14 decline approximately 30% over the past 15 years. More worrying, the number of elk calves per cow is dropping the same amount, bringing into question whether the herd can remain viable at all. The Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys elk herds have experienced a 50% reduction in their population since around the year 2000, much of it credited to increased human recreation. “It’s not like these elk walked up and over another hill to another unit,” says former CPW biologist Bill Andree. “They just don’t exist anymore. They’re dead.”
With so much of Colorado’s public lands base crisscrossed with trails and roads, “access” has become “excess” and the end result for hunters, big game and other wildlife is decidedly negative, with elk feeling the heat first and foremost. It’s a slippery slope from more mechanized and motorized trails to fewer elk and hunting opportunities, but here in Colorado we’re already getting a disturbing preview of how it ends.
- “CO BHA Comments On Vail Trail Proposals.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/31/22.
- “More trails a slippery slope to less hunting.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 12/9/21.
- Jon Holst, Colorado Field Representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Proposed management plan prioritizes wildlife.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 11/7/21.
- 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
- The importance of roadless areas to Colorado’s fish, wildlife, hunting and angling is detailed in this Trout Unlimited report (authored by David Petersen and Keith Curley): “Where The Wild Lands Are: Colorado.”
- Larry Desgardin is president of Keep Routt Wild and a resident of Steamboat Springs. “Keeping Routt Wild: when is enough enough?” Steamboat Pilot: 4/5/22.
- Suzie Romig. “Study highlights recreational trail impacts to wildlife habitat.” Steamboat Pilot: 2/24/22.
- Keep Routt Wild (2/25/22). “This disturbance ‘heat map’ shows the impact of human recreational disturbance on elk habitat in Routt National Forest.”
- Keep Routt Wild (2/27/22). “This is why we shouldn’t build trails in elk calving areas. There is a 5% chance of mortality from every recreational disturbance.”
- A set of related studies compiled by Keep Routt Wild.
- “According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there are nearly 40,000 miles of mapped motorized and non-motorized trails in Colorado. Some estimates suggest there exists an additional 25 to 30 percent of unmapped, user-created trails near popular mountain biking communities.”
- “Some estimates suggest there exists an additional 25 to 30 percent of unmapped, user-created trails near popular mountain biking communities.”
- “Researchers have clearly demonstrated the impacts that popular trails have on wildlife—especially big game populations—because human activity drives wildlife away from preferred habitats.”
- “For example, dramatic increases in trail development and use in elk summer habitat near Vail corresponded to a nearly 50 percent decline in the elk population between 2001 and 2015.”
- “Subsequent studies have established that big game, especially elk, are displaced by over a half mile from high use trails, and that the elk calf survival rate drops to zero when elk are repeatedly disturbed during critical times of the year.”
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
Recently the BLM and The Conservation Fund announced the acquisition of a private parcel within the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (DENCA). The chapter wrote a letter of support for this acquisition over a year ago and it’s great to see this acquisition come to fruition.
The BLM acquired 160 acres in the DENCA, which includes land used for camping, fishing, and kayaking, as well as wildlife habitat for desert bighorn sheep and mule deer. The acquisition includes a half-mile of Escalante Creek, a tributary of the Gunnison that’s home to three sensitive fish species and a popular stretch of whitewater.
This project supports the America the Beautiful initiative (aka, “30 by 30”), a decade-long challenge to pursue locally led and voluntary efforts nationwide to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. The initiative centers on collaborative conservation, expanding access to public lands, and making outdoor recreation accessible.
- Hunting and Fishing Community Statement on the “30 by 30” Initiative.
- Jordan Sillars. “What President Biden’s ‘30X30’ Plan Means For Hunters And Anglers.” The MeatEater: 4/1/22.
- Katie McKalip. “Administration’s ‘America The Beautiful’ Plan Focuses On Collaboration, Transparency, Backcountry.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/6/21.
- “Biden conservation plan good for hunters, anglers.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 1/19/21.
Colorado BHA Rendezvous
The 13th Annual Colorado BHA Rendezvous was held in the San Isabel National Forest west of Salida/Poncha Springs during June 10-22, 2022. A group of 20-to-30 hunters and anglers from around the state set up camp in a high-mountain meadow (known locally as the “goat wadi”) covering about six acres at 10,000 feet in the Sawatch Range.
This event has traditionally been an opportunity for chapter leaders and members (and others who may be interested in BHA) to get together in an informal setting where no one has to work. Our Rendezvous (uncharacteristically) is not about raising money or growing membership, it’s an opportunity to get together, put names to faces, build personal bonds and discuss chapter issues in an outdoors/public lands setting. It boils down to the three Gs (or G3): good people, good food, and good times.
“The Colorado Rende was held last weekend and it was a ton of fun. Holly and I both attended and it was so great to spend time around the campfire with many of you,” Brien Webster said. “This event provides us a space to spend time with each other outdoors, to be lifted up and inspired by each other’s energy, passion, and insights-and to deepen our relationships with each other.”
- “Colorado BHA Rendezvous Report: San Isabel National Forest (June 10-12, 2022).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/17/22.
- Colorado BHA 13th Annual Rendezvous photos (June 10-12, 2022).
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 13th Annual Rendezvous.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/7/22.
BHA North American Rendezvous
Colorado also had a strong showing at BHA’s 11th Annual North American Rendezvous, held at Fort Missoula in Montana (May 12-14, 2022). A contingent of Colorado BHA chapter leaders and members made the trip north, including Co-Chairs Don Holmstrom and David Lien, Communications Co-Chair Scott Heatwole, Northern Colorado Assistant Regional Director Jon Lang, and Southeast Colorado Assistant Regional Director Amber Leach.
Colorado BHA member Justin Townsend, founder and editor-in-chief of Harvesting Nature, joined the BHA Armed Forces Initiative (AFI) team for the Wild Game Cook-off. Colorado-based members of BHA’s North American headquarters staff were also in attendance: Tim Brass (State Policy and Field Operations Director), John Gale (Conservation Director), and Brien “Army of One” Webster (CO/WY Chapter Coordinator and Program Manager).
- Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (5/27/22). “2022 Rendezvous Recap.”
- BHA 2022 North American Rendezvous (Fort Missoula) photos: May 12-14.
- Greg Kvale. “2022 Wild Game Cookoff Winning Dishes.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/29/22.
- Kylie Schumacher. “6th Annual Field to Table Dinner: A Celebration of Wild Food.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/3/22.
- Thomas Plank. “11th BHA Rendezvous Brings Down The House.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/26/22.
- James Dobson. “Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous returns to Missoula.” 8KPAX: 5/13/22.
- NBC Montana Staff. “North American Rendezvous brings backcountry hunters, anglers to Missoula.” NBC Montana: 5/11/22.
- Boone And Crockett Club National Headquarters (Missoula, MT): 5/14/22.
- During the last night of the 2022 BHA North American Rendezvous at Fort Missoula (May 12-14) in Montana, I stood around the bonfire with BHA President and CEO Land Tawney (and many others) reminiscing about how far we’ve come and how much more we have to do together. Land touches on this in the Summer 2022 Backcountry Journal (in “Community,” p. 3). -Katie McKalip. “Inside The Summer Issue of BHA’s Backcountry Journal.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/15/22.
- “We are the carriers of the fire. We are the repository of 30,000-40,000 years of human passion and drive to hunt. We totally evolved to live this way … We need to be sure this elemental fire doesn’t go out.” –Hal Herring, Backcountry Journal: Winter 2014
- “A long time ago, I figured something out: human beings who love the natural world and are willing to make a stand for what they believe in tend to be the very best people.” –Hal Herring, Field & Stream contributing editor, recipient of BHA’s 2016 Ted Trueblood Award and host of BHA’s Podcast & Blast
BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment (BLM RMPA)
Some important land management/wildlife processes will be initiated by the BLM soon. One of those processes is the BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment (BLM RMPA), which is happening in part to address deficiencies in recently completed RMPs in the state of Colorado and out of recognition that sensitive wildlife habitat is facing unprecedented and dynamic pressures that current RMPs are not suited to address.
Liz Rose, a Colorado BHA chapter leader and TRCP’s Colorado Representative, is running point on this campaign, so we are in excellent hands. There will be a public comment period that runs during the Scoping Period. We will be proving chapter leaders with additional details and developing action alerts for our members and supporters in the coming weeks.
- Brien Webster. “BLM Kicks Off Important Big Game Amendment Process in Colorado.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/19/22.
- Randall Williams. “Sportspersons Commend Colo. BLM for Prioritizing Big Game Seasonal Habitats.” Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: 7/18/22.
CPW Commission Engagement
- Habitat Watch Volunteer Matt Bourget attended a recent CPW Commission meeting. It’s critical we have a presence at these meetings. The makeup of the commission is changing and many of our commissioners are not as well versed on our issues as we would like. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to advocate for wildlife and our hunting heritage, and to develop important relationships that can advance our work and educate our commissioners
- CPW Commission meetings/information: https://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/pages/commission.aspx
Pittman-Robertson Act Funding
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is joining a firestorm of opposition to legislation introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), the RETURN our Constitutional Rights Act, which would eliminate the excise tax on firearms and ammunition. That money, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, is used for wildlife-related purposes and plays a major role in funding conservation in the U.S. Last month, 43 members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, including BHA, sent a letter to congressional leaders reiterating their support of the Pittman-Robertson Act and opposing changes to excise taxes on guns and ammunition.
- “P-R [Pittman-Robertson Act] funds are made available to states and territories the year following their collection. Since 1937, P-R has raised $13.3 billion for various projects, with nearly $1 billion generated in 2019 alone. The true impact, however, is many times larger, as P-R funding is matched by state agencies and various conservation organizations for specific projects.”
- “On this day [Sept. 2] in 1937, one of the most important pieces of legislation in conservation history was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt … to dedicate excise taxes on guns, ammunition, and other hunting equipment toward funding conservation and habitat restoration … the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, more commonly named the Pittman-Robertson Act … can be directly linked to the revitalization and survival of wild turkeys, whitetail deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, wood ducks, black bears, Canada goose, desert bighorn sheep, and mountain lions in our country.” –Cyrus Baird. TRCP Blog: 9/2/15
- “The [Pittman-Robertson] Wildlife Restoration Act went from its introduction in Congress to President Franklin Roosevelt’s signature in only ninety days.” –Jim Posewitz, Rifle In Hand: How Wild America Was Saved
- “How many user groups are willing to tax themselves … to pay for maintaining and growing what they love? Hunters and anglers are among the few.” –Editor(s). “Hunters Pay For Conservation.” Sports Afield: July/August 2017, p. 40
- “Since the two acts [i.e., the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts] have been implemented, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $20.2 billion to states for the purpose of funding conservation and outdoor recreation projects.” –Editor(s). American Hunter: June 2018, p. 28
Also see the input from BHA Conservation Director John Gale in two related stories along with a related op-ed by Colorado BHA Central West Slope Assistant Regional Director Adam Gall:
- Rachelle Schrute. “Breaking: House Bill Proposes Repealing Pittman-Robertson Act.” GearJunkie: 6/29/22.
- Natalie Krebs. “This Bill Would Repeal Excise Taxes on Guns and Ammo. Both the NSSF and NRA Oppose It: The bill would gut our most successful form of wildlife conservation funding.” Outdoor Life: 6/30/22.
- Adam Gall. “RETURN bill ‘devastating to incredible outdoor heritage.’” The Durango Herald: 7/11/22.
- Thomas Plank. “BHA Opposes House Bill That Would Strip Pittman-Robertson Funding.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/2/22.
- Chris D'Angelo. “GOP Bill Takes Aim At Gun Tax That Has Funded Conservation For Decades.” HuffPost: 7/8/22.
- Eric Barker. “Analysis: Tax repeal endeavor is off target-effort to kill guns-and-ammo tax in name of 2nd Amendment is opposed by hunters and the gun industry.” The Lewiston Tribune: 7/8/22.
- Rob Drieslein. “U.S. House bill would eliminate Pittman-Robertson Act.” Outdoor News: 6/30/22.
Women in the Woods (WitW)-Colorado Fly Girls
BHA members Amber Leach and Chyanne Davis wanted to create a women’s-only event to introduce people to fly-fishing and all things trout-related—hopefully by getting a few to the net.
Focusing on Pueblo, Chyanne contacted CPW to see if they'd be willing to host the event and they were more than glad to help. Registration filled up in less than two days!
They then recruited Michele White, owner of Tumbling Trout Fly Shop in Lake George and a tremendous BHA supporter, to help with the hands-on instruction. Michele then recruited several mentors and guides from Colorado Women Fly Fishers and the Pikes Peak Chapter of Trout Unlimited, who turned out in force simply to help. Michele provided everything: rods, flies, waders, boots.
Nearly everyone landed fish, many of them landed several. The group ran into a man fishing who asked how his wife, who was watching from the shore, could get involved next time. They put her in waders on the spot, and she was able to land a few fish!
The women were full of questions about opportunities to get involved with the hunting and fishing community and CPW helped to answer several of those questions. Amber says, “Chyanne and I are still beside ourselves at how well received this event was, but we're excited to get something else put together as a follow-up.”
- Kassi Smith, Colo. BHA Board member. “Women In The Woods.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/5/22.
- Learn more about Women in the Woods (WitW): https://www.backcountryhunters.org/women_in_the_woods
Wilderness Gold Standard
Wilderness designation—the gold standard for wildlife habitat and backcountry hunting grounds—protects mostly high-elevation mountaintops in Colorado. A mere 3 percent of the lower 48 is protected as wilderness. Which is why Colorado BHA supports bills like HR 803 (Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act). The legislation is a collection of nine separate public lands bills the House approved last year–including Rep Diana DeGette’s Colorado Wilderness Act and Rep. Joe Neguse’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act.
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act would protect Camp Hale by creating the first-ever National Historic Landscape, preserving (for starters) nearly 29,000 acres surrounding Camp Hale. From November 1942 through June 1944 Camp Hale housed 14,000 troops—along with 4,000 mules and 250 sled dogs—of the 10th Mountain Division, who learned to rock climb, perform military maneuvers on skis, and endure a brutal climate in preparation for mountain warfare. Over 18 grueling months soldiers trained to fight at high altitudes.
- Craig Grother, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Central West Slope Regional Director. “In Support of the CORE Act.” Telluride Daily Planet: 5/19/22, page 9.
- “The 10th Mountain Division & HR 803 (Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 9/27/21.
- “Preserve Camp Hale and other public lands for future generations: Wilderness bill will protect Colorado’s robust outdoor recreation economy.” Colorado Newsline: 9/24/21.
- “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.
- “Hunters and anglers support the CORE Act.” Daily Camera: 2/9/21 (scroll down).
- “Hunters, anglers support the CORE Act.” The Durango Herald: 2/5/21.
Privatization of Wildlife/Tag Allocation
This issue of resident vs. nonresident (and landowner) elk (and other) tag allocations has been a controversial issue in multiple Western states over the years, including Colorado. As a result, during May 2022 the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) North American Board adopted a policy statement on hunting license allocation.
During 2017 the Colorado BHA Executive Leadership Team/Board adopted a position statement on Big Game License Resident/Non-Resident Allocations. Since then, there has been much additional discussion and information made available related to tag allocations. Some Colorado BHA members have requested that we consider the issues/concerns raised in the following post and possibly adopt a related/updated policy/position statement: “The Secret to the Elk and Deer Tags in Colorado.” Public Land Jurisdiction: 3/24/22.
This information is, in general, likely not new to most Colorado big game hunters, but some of the specifics/details may be (assuming the data is accurate, which we ask you to determine for yourself if you have questions/concerns). The post also notes/states (in part): “In March 2021, Colorado finally proposed a Senate Bill, SB 21-150 (Reserve Big Game Hunting Licenses for Residents), to ease resident hunter frustration as a result of a tag allocation bias inflicted on resident hunters for decades—when compared to other western states.”
- “Colorado BHA Tag Allocation Observations & Information.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/20/22.
What Has BHA/CO BHA Done For Me?
- “CO BHA Summer Newsletter.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/13/22.
- “CO BHA Q2 2022 Update.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/1/22.
- “Colorado BHA Q1 2022 Update.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/14/22.
- “Colorado BHA Q4 2021 Update.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 10/4/21.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 2021 Mid-Year (January-June) Report.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/4/21.
- “Colorado BHA Q3 2021 Update.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/2/21.
- “Colorado BHA Q2 2021 Update.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 4/19/21.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers End of Year Report: June-December 2020.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/8/21.
- “Winter 2021 [Q1] Colorado Chapter News.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/28/21.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Mid-Year Report/Update: June 2020.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/20/20.
- “Spring 2020 Colorado Chapter News.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/1/20.
- “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers End of Year Report.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/15/20.
2022 Events (Completed)
- Wild game potluck. (on Jan. 27) at Gemini Beer Company in Grand Junction.
- Ann Wright. “Well plated: Warm yourself with local, gourmet food.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 1/7/22 (scroll down).
- Brien Webster. “McInnis NCA Fence Removal (Feb. 26) Project.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/25/22.
- Backcountry on Ice: Ice Fishing (Saturday, Mar. 5).
- “‘Backcountry On Ice’ Fishing Event A Big Hit.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 3/7/22.
- Denver area BHAers Pint Night (on Mar. 10) at Locavore Beer Works in Littleton.
- Denver International Sportsmen’s Expo (March 23-27) Volunteer Signup.
- “Introduction to Bowhunting.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (on Saturday, Mar. 26, in Carbondale, Colorado).
- Pint Night on April 7 at Maxline Brewing in Fort Collins.
- Colorado Fly Girls: Women in the Woods event (April 9) by Amber Leach and Chyanne Davis.
- Sportsmen’s Day at the State Capitol (April 21).
- Southeast Colorado Group pint night in Colorado Springs at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (April 27).
- Fly tying at Upslope Brewery in Boulder (flatiron location) on May 10.
- BHA Bows & Brews. Join BHA’s Central Rockies Chapter and C&K Archery in Frisco (May 12 for an evening to discuss BHA and all-things archery.
- “Southwest Colorado BHA Planning Session (May 24, Durango).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/4/22.
- McInnis National Conservation Area fence removal (May 26).
- Denver Pint Night (on May 26) at Diebolt Brewing Company.
- On June 1, 25 volunteers including local staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and members of BHA worked together to improve wildlife habitat on the Almont Triangle between Gunnison and Crested Butte.
- Northern Colorado BHA Group trash cleanup day at Smith Lake and Wellington State Wildlife Areas (on June 4).
- Platte River Cleanup w/Denver Parks and Recreation (June 5).
- Colorado BHA 13th Annual Rendezvous: June 10-12.
- Women in the Woods – Rifle Sight-in, Brighton, CO (June 25).
- Buffalo Creek Guzzler Project: Pine, CO (June 25).
- Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Gunnison Wildlife Association, and West Elk Archers worked jointly (6/28/22) on a Wet Meadow Restoration Project.
- Fence Removal, Dan Noble SWA (July 8-9).
- Buffalo Creek Guzzler Project: July 9.
- Roan Plateau Stewardship Project, Rifle, CO (July 9-10).
- Glenwood Springs Pint Night: July 12.
- Brien Webster. “CO BHA Wildlife Guzzler Project.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/15/22.
- Women in the Woods Shotgun Skills Clinic (Brighton): July 16.
- Craig Grother. “Thanks to Our Members For Giving Back to Our Public Lands (Dan Noble SWA Project).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 7/19/22.
2022 Events (Upcoming)
- See Chapter Events page.
- Sept. 1-30 Public Lands Month
- Sept. 24 Public Lands Day
- March 15-18, 2023–BHA Rendezvous in Missoula (RSVP now and stay up to date on next year's event!)
- Check out BHA’s North American Action Map, tracking/highlighting examples of our accomplishments as an organization across the continent.
- See our Take Action Center to stay engaged on legislation in your area.
- Gift a BHA membership
- Auto-Renewal of Membership Option Now Live on the BHA Website.
- Landing Page to Track Chapter-Generated Memberships. To better track memberships renewed or recruited by chapters, we’ve developed a new landing page: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/chaptermemberships
Founded by Mike Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, and formed around an Oregon campfire, in 2004, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 40,000 members spread out across all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories—including chapters in 48 states, two Canadian provinces and one territory, and Washington, D.C.—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 former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) in 2005 (the first official BHA chapter), they’ve grown their boots-on-the-ground presence to some 2,000 dedicated hunters and anglers.
 Ben Long. “Welcome aboard, Land!” Backcountry Journal: Summer 2013, p. 3.
 Editor(s). “Member Survey Results.” Backcountry Journal: Winter 2021, p. 14.
 Ryan Burkert, Veteran Programs Lead, Armed Forces Initiative. “Faces of BHA.” Backcountry Journal: Winter 2022, p. 15.
 Zack Williams, editor. “A Good Offense.” Backcountry Journal: Fall 2019, p. 83.
 Patrick Lane & Carrie Sandstedt. “To Protect and Restore Rivers, States Can Use ‘Outstanding’ Policy Designation: Efforts in 4 states show potential to benefit communities and wildlife.” PEW Charitable Trusts: 6/9/22.
 John Sztukowski. “Outstanding Waters in the Arkansas River Basin.” Landscapes: May 2022, p. 4.
 Craig worked as a wildlife biologist for the US Forest Service for 33 years on various Ranger Districts in Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado. For the last 20 years of his career he was the wildlife biologist for the Norwood and Ouray Ranger Districts of the GMUG National Forest.
 “Colorado BHA Report: Impacts of Off-Road Recreation on Public Lands Habitat.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 5/21/18; George Wuerthner. “Impacts of Mountain Biking.” The Wildlife News: 6/18/19.
 Larry Desgardin is president of Keep Routt Wild and a resident of Steamboat Springs. “Keeping Routt Wild: when is enough enough?” Steamboat Pilot: 4/5/22.
 David A. Lien. “Defending Wilderness and Hunting Defends Our Right to Bear Arms.” NewWest: 3/29/07.
 Jon Holst, Colorado Field Representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Proposed management plan prioritizes wildlife.” Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel: 11/7/21.
 Holly Endersby. “Hal Herring: Fighting Indifference Word by Word.” Backcountry Journal: Winter 2014, p. 9.
 Editor. “An Interview with Podcast Host Hal Herring.” Backcountry Journal: Winter 2020, p. 24.
 Brian McCombie. “A Boom in Gun Sales Also Means This.” America’s 1st Freedom: April 2021, p. 16.
 Cyrus Baird. “Pittman-Robertson: 78 Years of Gearing Up for Good Conservation.” TRCP Blog: 9/2/15.
 Jim Posewitz. Rifle In Hand: How Wild America Was Saved. Helena, Montana: Riverbend Publishing, 2004, p. 68.
 Editor(s). “Hunters Pay For Conservation.” Sports Afield: July/August 2017, p. 40.
 Editor(s). “Zinke Announces $1.1 Billion for Sportsmen and Conservation.” American Hunter: June 2018, p. 28.
 “The 10th Mountain Division & HR 803 (Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act).” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 9/27/21; “Preserve Camp Hale and other public lands for future generations: Wilderness bill will protect Colorado’s robust outdoor recreation economy.” Colorado Newsline: 9/24/21.
 Katie McKalip. “House Votes To Advance Package of Public Lands Bills.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 2/26/21.
 “Preserve Camp Hale and other public lands for future generations: Wilderness bill will protect Colorado’s robust outdoor recreation economy.” Colorado Newsline: 9/24/21.