Colorado Parks & Wildlife Votes to Expand Public Access to 500,000 Acres of State Trust Land

Last Thursday afternoon in Walden, Colorado the Colorado Board of Land Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to allow seasonal hunting access to an additional 500,000 acres of Colorado state trust land. Today, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission met in Telluride and also voted to expand public access on 500,000 acres of Colorado state trust lands. 100,000 acres will be made accessible this year.

The acreage-nomination and approval process will now move forward under the Colorado State Land Board as Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) plans for the necessary signage, improvements, etc. on approved properties.

The Colorado State Land Board’s Recreation Program Manager Abe Medina and CPW’s Southeast Deputy Regional Manager Brad Henley presented together to the Colorado Board of Land Commissioners last week. They described the economies of scale achieved by leasing so much land to one lessee (CPW), the need for more hunting opportunities in the Eastern part of the state where most of the additional leases will be taken out, the types of hunting that are likely to occur on the new leases, and the reasoning behind the proposed lease rate.

Members of the Board of Land Commissioners praised the partnership between the State Land Board and CPW, and thanked Medina, Henley, and their teams for their commitment to increasing the utility of Colorado state trust lands. The leasing of 500,000 more acres of state trust land by CPW will simultaneously benefit hunters, state trust beneficiaries (“primarily K-12 schoolchildren in Colorado”[1]), and rural economies where increased visitation would help support local businesses.

Currently, hunters have access to around 480,000 acres of Colorado state trust land through the Public Access Program. The Public Access Program originated in 1993 and is administered by CPW under a lease agreement with the Colorado State Land Board. The Colorado State Land Board manages about 2.8 million surface acres in Colorado, so once the Public Access Program grows to ~980,000 acres, sportsmen and women will have seasonal access (primarily for hunting) to about 35 percent of Colorado state trust land.

The new addition to the Public Access Program is the result of ongoing, cooperative efforts by the Colorado State Land Board, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and organizations like Colorado BHA. This proposal is finally coming to fruition thanks to hunters and anglers like you speaking up – and the availability of revenue generated through the passage of Colorado Senate Bill 18-143, often referred to as “The Future Generations Act, signed into law in May of 2018 by then-Governor Hickenlooper.[2]Governor Polis has kept the momentum going by committing to providing more opportunities for recreation, hunting, and fishing on public lands, and to do so for “a wider range of Coloradans.”[3]

While we’d like to see Colorado adopt state trust land access policies that are more consistent with those of other Western states, this proposed addition is a big step in the right direction, and a long time coming.

Colorado BHA thanks the Colorado State Land Board, the Board of Land Commissioners, CPW, the Parks and Wildlife Commissioners, Governor Polis, and the Department of Natural Resources for heeding our call to expand public access on state trust lands. And thank you to those of you who have spoken up to advocate for this needed expansion of public access and opportunity – your voice matters!

Recent press regarding state trust land access in Colorado includes:


[1]Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners. (2018). Annual Report FY 2017-2018. Retrieved from

[2]Hunting, Fishing, and Parks for Future Generations Act. Senate Bill 18-143. (2018). Retrieved from

[3]Blevins, J. (1 June 2019). How nearly $30 million in lottery money has been distributed in effort to connect all Coloradans to a park or trail. Steamboat Pilot & Today. Retrieved from

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