The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Trails Program (i.e., State Trails Grant Committee) distributes millions in grants to user groups and federal agencies in Colorado for trail development each year, with most grants going to trail development and maintenance instead of enforcement and wildlife (i.e., planning/managing trails to prevent habitat fragmentation, seasonal trail closures for critical habitat, addressing the proliferation of user-crated trails and enforcement of trail use regulations). Consider taking some time to review and comment on some of the 2018 Trail Grant submissions (see details below).
The deadline for submitting applications for 2018 Non-Motorized Trail Grants was November 1, 2017. There were 26 applications submitted for Large Construction/Maintenance Grants, 4 applications for Small Construction/Maintenance Grants, and 12 Planning or Support Grant applications. These applications are now available for review and public comment at this website: cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/TrailsGrantsNM-Submissions.aspx. The deadline for public comment is December 29, 2017. Comments can be submitted at [email protected].
The deadline for submitting applications for 2018 Motorized Trail Grants is December 1, 2017. Those applications will be posted on the cpw website shortly after the 1st, and will be available for public review and comment until January 30, 2018. Previous applications are available for review now if people want to see them. The website address for Motorized Grant applications is cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/TrailsGrantsOHVApps.aspx. Comments would be submitted to the State Trails Grant Committee at the same address: [email protected].
This is our opportunity to review the applications submitted to the State Trails Grant Committee and provide input to the process that will hopefully influence them to fully consider the effects of each proposal on wildlife habitat and populations. Providing voices from sportsmen and wildlife professionals within Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is essential to achieving a balanced program that conserves our wildlife and hunting opportunities on public lands.
Wildlife habitat on public lands in Colorado is also being significantly impacted by the proliferation of motorized/mechanize trails. Sportsmen and wildlife managers are finding that hunting opportunities are being compromised by trail development in many parts of the state. In the Roaring Fork Valley, for example, user-created trails have displaced elk to a point where a BHA member/chapter leader, Bob Shettel, no longer finds elk in traditional hunting areas north of Basalt.
At the same time, CPW has been documenting decreasing elk numbers in the valley, just as motorized and mountain bike use has started burgeoning. CPW Area Wildlife Manager, Jim Haskins, wrote: “New mountain bike [trail] construction will likely result in permanent habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation impedes the movement of wildlife across landscapes. Looped trails may create islands of habitat that may be avoided entirely by wildlife. CPW District Wildlife Manager, Craig Wescoatt, stated that elk are also being displaced by mountain bike trails in the Eagle area.
For additional information see:
-To learn more about the Trails Program, Google CPW Recreational Trails Program or visit: http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/trails.aspx
-Colorado BHA CPW West Slope Liaison, Bob Shettel, on “Wildlife and the Crystal Trail” (in the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent (11/8/17)
-Colorado BHA letter to the BLM regarding the proposed Signal Peak Trail Development Plan in the Gunnison area (5/21/17): http://www.backcountryhunters.org/signal_peak_trail_development
-Effects of Off-Road Recreation on Mule Deer and Elk: https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2004_wisdom001.pdf
-BHA White Paper: Impacts of ATVs on the Landscape and Wildlife: https://www.backcountryhunters.org/bha_ohv_white_paper
-BHA interview with the leading expert on how elk, mule deer and hunters are impacted by motorized use and recreational disturbance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouK4yCy7G6Q&feature=youtu.be
 Jim Haskins, Area Wildlife Manager, in a 2015 letter addressing a mountain bike trail proposal for Buffalo Pass (northeast of Steamboat Springs): http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/jim-haskins-bids-farewell-after-rewarding-career/
 Craig Wescoatt, CPW District Wildlife Manager (Glenwood Springs), attended Colorado BHA’s general membership meeting during our 9th Annual Rendezvous at Sylvan Lake State Park south of Eagle (on 6/4/17).