Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Assistant Manager
Why it Matters: As Colorado’s population expands, increased impact on fish, wildlife and their habitats are inevitable. Fortunately, as the foremost experts in wildlife conservation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife have a proven track record of being able to problem solve, collaborate, and work effectively to mitigate much of the impact associated with population growth, development and increased outdoor recreation. However, without adequate funding, even the most successful and well-intended programs suffer.
World famous for its outdoor recreation and world class hunting and angling opportunity, it is no surprise that people want to experience the magic of the West. Between 2010 and 2020, Colorado added almost a million new residents, growing the state’s population by 14.8% to 5.8 million residents. During that same timeframe, Denver alone added more than 100,000 new residents, increasing the city’s population by about 20%. However, Newton’s Third Law of Motion clearly states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and in this instance, Colorado’s wildlife and natural resources are positioned to feel the consequences of population growth, development and increase human pressure on the landscape as more people take to Colorado’s, forests, lakes, mountains, and streams.
Fortunately, that is where the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) comes into play. CPW’s mission is to perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state, to provide a quality state parks system, and to provide enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. Though there are a multitude of ways in which CPW fulfills its mission, it all comes with a price tag. Without adequate funding, even the most successful conservation programs flounder, which is why CSF, along with over 12 other members of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project signed onto letters in support for HB22-1072 – Habitat Partnership Program Reauthorization and the DNRs’ budget request for FY 2022-23 and supplemental budget requests for FY 2021-22.
Habitat Partnership Program
Sportspersons and landowners alike regard the HPP as one of CPW’s most successful programs. The program has been effective in reducing conflicts between landowners and wildlife and provides a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby CPW provides landowners with resources to minimize and mitigate impacts from wildlife. The HPP is supported by local committees comprised of landowners, land management agencies and sportspersons focused on problem solving and addressing management objectives for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and moose while increasing social tolerance of ungulates on the landscape.
Co-sponsored by Colorado Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Perry Will, HB22-1072 would do several things including grant CPW the authority to continue setting aside five percent of the total big game license revenues to be used for the HPP and clarifies that the Habitat Partnership Council, with the approval of the CPW Director, can allocate funds directly to local committees which will increase efficiency, planning, and the ability to get funding to the boots on the- ground quickly. HB22-1072 has passed out of the House and been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where it awaits a hearing date.
Department of Natural Resources’ Budget Request
Recognizing the importance of continuing to provide high quality fish and wildlife-based recreation in the state, several budget line items highlight the urgent need to protect and sustain Colorado’s wildlife so that future generations can enjoy quality hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The DNR’s budget request for FY 2022-23 and supplemental budget requests for FY 2021-22 included several high priority requests including but not limited to funding for managing increased outdoor recreation and conservation, the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnerships Initiative, and implementing Big Game Policy Report recommendations. Early last week the Joint Budget Committee approved all DNRs budget requests, marking a significant step forward in the process of allocating more funding to conserve Colorado’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats in perpetuity.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?