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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Wildlife Federation’

Governor Polis speaks about the release Big Game Policy Report in Golden, Colorado

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

Governor Declares Habitat Connectivity Day 

GOLDEN — At an event in Golden today, Governor Polis, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in cooperation with the Department of Transportation (CDOT), released a report today detailing options to further protect Colorado’s wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors, and improve conditions for Colorado’s iconic big game species. The Governor also highlighted the state adding dedicated staff to work directly on this partnership, and support a comprehensive and collaborative approach between CDOT and DNR on the conservation of our wildlife and increased motorist safety.  

The report, “Opportunities to Improve Sensitive Habitat and Movement Route Connectivity for Colorado’s Big Game Species,” was produced at the direction of Governor Jared Polis in a 2019 Executive Order (EO), which acknowledged that increased human activity compounds  pressures on Colorado’s wildlife. The Governor’s Executive Order called on state agencies to expand collaboration and research, and propose potential strategies and policy solutions for alleviating habitat fragmentation and degradation.

The report highlights some of the challenges and threats facing Colorado’s wildlife which disrupt landscape connectivity and reduce the availability of functional habitat. These threats include roads and other infrastructure, industrial activities, residential growth, and outdoor recreation. Meanwhile, Colorado’s forest, sagebrush, and grassland ecosystems are already under strain from the impacts of climate change, wildfires, and persistent drought. As the climate changes, the habitats that wildlife rely on will change with it, and this report will help prioritize state policy, coordination and investment to support our wildlife and ecosystems best adapt to the changing climate. 

“Coloradans care deeply about protecting and preserving our state’s wildlife ecosystem and improving driver safety. Colorado is using all available tools and funding options to preserve wildlife habitats by reducing wildlife and vehicle collisions, reducing traffic delays, and ensuring that human activities protect wildlife,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I appreciate the work of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation and I look forward to working with the Colorado legislature, local, federal and Tribal governments and private landowners in implementing many of the policy priorities laid out in this report.” 

The report examines a range of options to address these challenges, including implementing regulations for energy development and other land uses; improving infrastructure to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions; coordinating conservation funding; planning trails with wildlife in mind; and better incentivizing participation by industry and private landowners in voluntary habitat conservation efforts.

In recognition of the report the Governor also issued a proclamation to officially acknowledge September 29, 2021 as “Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity Day,” underscoring the importance for Colorado to conserve habitat for big game and other native wildlife species and improve connectivity along the routes that wildlife use to migrate across the landscape.

“A key conclusion of the report is that, while there is no single intervention that can resolve the complex challenges affecting Colorado’s big game populations and their habitat, we do have the tools to ensure that these species can continue to thrive in our state,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resource. “Recent efforts in the legislature, including the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Future Generations Act in 2018 and the Keep Colorado Wild Pass bill in 2021, will provide new funding sources and direction for Colorado’s wildlife and its habitat. Additionally, the state’s updated oil and gas regulations provide new tools and protections to balance energy development and wildlife needs. However, long term success will require a significant shift in priorities, and coordination across agencies, jurisdictions and sectors to provide the sustainable protection our big game species require.” 

“Today’s report showcases how our state agencies can work together in a meaningful way to explore innovative solutions– so that our programs can better respond to the evolving needs of  Colorado residents and our big game wildlife populations,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Our goals remain working through challenges such as habitat fragmentation, development demand, varied jurisdictions and much-needed funding to find opportunities to create cooperative solutions that help conserve our wildlife.”  

CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew also recognized the need to improve transportation infrastructure that allows wildlife to safely cross highways and roads.

“Wildlife-vehicle collisions pose a risk to people and wildlife alike. An average of 3,300 these incidents are reported to CDOT every year, many of which result in injury to passengers and animal mortality, not to mention thousands of dollars in property damage. There is a significant need to increase funding for wildlife infrastructure, such as under- or overpasses, which we know can be highly effective at improving public safety and conditions for wildlife,” said Director Lew. 

DNR and CDOT conducted extensive research and outreach, and examined approaches by other states in shaping the recommendations put forth in the report. A status update released by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) in 2020 and joint CDOT-CPW study also informed recommendations. 

The Colorado Wildlife Federation, Hispanics Enjoying Camping and Hiking in the Outdoors, Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation and other Coloradans and wildlife advocates participated in today’s event.

“Colorado’s wildlife community appreciates the Governor’s and First Gentleman’s leadership in elevating attention to this important issue,” added Colorado Wildlife Federation Director, Suzanne O’Neill. “We can and must work together to make progress before opportunities are lost.” 

“Connected, healthy lands are critical for people, too, so it’s important to engage all Coloradans in finding solutions,” said HECHO Program Director, Bianca McGrath-Martinez.

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With countless places to roam and enjoy the great outdoors, Americans are taking advantage of these opportunities, and as they go, spending significant dollars, too. New economic reports by Southwick Associates reveal that more than 53 million Americans consider themselves sportsmen, spending over $93.5 billion in 2016 on gear, licenses, travel, clothing, gas and more. 

South Park, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

A series of reports released yesterday by the American Sportfishing Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation show that expenditures made in 2016 for hunting, target shooting and sportfishing gear and services supported 1.6 million jobs and provided $72 billion in salaries and wages. These monies also generated nearly $20 billion in local, state and federal taxes. Much of this tax revenue benefits vital conservation and educational programs that improve our outdoor areas for all who enjoy them and make hunting and shooting safer activities.

“If hunting, fishing and target shooting were a corporation, it would rank #25 on the Fortune 500, ahead of Microsoft,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “While time spent outside may come across as something to do after the real work day is done, in reality hunting, fishing and target shooting is a critical industry, generating jobs and income for thousands of communities across the country.”

Key highlights of the reports include:



  • Each year, 35.8 million people 16 years and older take to America’s waters to fish.
  • More than 28 million people over 16 years old took to our nation’s forests and gun ranges to hunt and target shoot in 2016.
  • The number of people who participate in sportfishing, hunting and target shooting represents 16.5 percent of the total U.S. population.
  • When factoring in multiplier effects, spending by sportsmen created economic activity in excess of $220 billion.
  • Hunting, fishing and shooting adds $119 billion of overall value to our nation’s gross domestic product and generates $17.6 billion in federal taxes and $12.2 billion in state and local taxes.

Four separate reports are available: sportfishing from the American Sportfishing Association, hunting and target shooting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (please register as a guest when asked), plus a report for all activities combined from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets. Celebrating 28 years in business, Southwick Associates has a strong reputation for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics to strategic decision making across the entire outdoor industry. Aside from custom market and economic information, Southwick Associates provides custom and syndicated research including customer-driven new product development, outdoor media consumption insights, and equipment purchase tracking studies. Visit www.southwickassociates.com for more information.

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The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

Former Interior Secretary Salazar, NWF CEO and affiliates say keep public lands public

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s CEO and president, and business and conservation leaders Thursday to speak out for conserving America’s public lands and against attempts to sell or get rid of the lands that sustain fish and wildlife populations as well as hunting, fishing and the country’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry.

The National Wildlife Federation’s 49 state affiliates have unanimously approved a resolution that calls for keeping public lands in public hands and opposes large-scale exchanges, sales or giveaways of federally managed lands. This week, 41 of the state affiliates sent a letter to the Republican National Committee asking that it rescind a resolution adopted this year that urges Congress to turn over public lands to the Western states that want them.

The affiliates noted that public lands help grow America’s economy by supporting an outdoor recreation industry that generates $646 billion in economic benefit annually and supports 6.1 million jobs. The organizations stressed that wise stewardship of the lands that belong to all Americans is a long tradition that cuts across political and social lines.

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

“Despite the economic importance of federal lands to wildlife and people, they remain under constant threat. In recent years, several state legislative proposals have called on the federal government to transfer ownership of public lands to the states, which in turn would pass them off to private interests in many instances,” the organizations wrote.

The Interior Department’s latest annual economic report shows the agency’s programs and activities generated $360 billion in benefits and supported more than 2 million jobs nationwide in fiscal 2013. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar started preparing the reports in 2009 to highlight the department’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

“The nation’s public lands are the birthright and priceless heritage of all Americans. Our policymakers and elected leaders should be working to preserve and enhance these multiple use economic engines,” said Salazar, who served as Interior secretary from 2009 to 2013.

The National Wildlife Federation is on the front lines of conserving fish and wildlife and the places where they live, and in large part those places are public lands, O’Mara said.

“The National Wildlife Federation, our 49 state affiliates, and four million members and supporters strongly support keeping our public lands in public hands. As a diverse federation of hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife watchers, and nature lovers, we are united in our passion for protecting public lands, which provide amazing outdoor experiences for all Americans, landscapes for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bison herds to migrate, forests for grizzlies, bighorn sheep and lynx, and critical habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 1,000 species of fish and 250 reptile and amphibian species. For more than a century, protecting land for the benefit all outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife has been an essential element of the American experience—and we must pass on this legacy to future generations,” O’Mara said.

The wildlife federations have worked through the years to conserve the public lands necessary for fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing and will continue to do, said David Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director.

“Every few decades this idea of selling off public land pops up, and public opinion always beats it back. Meanwhile, the challenges facing our national forests and other public lands have continued to grow,” Chadwick added. “We need our elected officials to quit wasting time on these speculative, ideological proposals and instead take action on the common-sense, collaborative efforts under way all over the country to improve land management.”

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Surveys and polls show overwhelming support for public lands among voters in the West, the target of many of the drives to dispose of public land. That support extends beyond the region to other parts of the country where hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts enjoy the backcountry, rivers and forests, said Tim Gestwicki, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation CEO.

“Sportsmen and women and wildlife watchers in the Southeast value our public lands, from the Appalachians to the coast. We also value the Western lands and their abundant wildlife, big open spaces and great hunting and fishing. We stand with our fellow sportsmen and women in defending public lands and protecting the special places that offer some of the best of what this country is about,” Gestwicki said.

“Sportsmen are on the front line in this effort to prevent the transfer of federal public lands. These are the very lands where we hunt and fish, and where we pass on those traditions to our kids. The idea that somehow our federal public lands are dispensable is an affront to all hunters and anglers, and we are determined to protect these lands for ourselves and for future generations,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

America’s national parks, monuments and rugged landscapes are not only a draw for people in this country, but across the world, said Peter Metcalf, CEO and president of Black Diamond, Inc., a leading manufacturer of outdoor sports equipment and clothing.

“No other country in the world has the public land infrastructure that we have. There’s such a richness of landscape and wildlife. Our public lands and outdoor recreation and lifestyles are coveted by people around the world and are a draw for communities and employers competing for new businesses and workers,” Metcalf said. “Black Diamond’s brand is synonymous with these iconic landscapes that capture the imagination of people all over the world. In addition they are a source of inspiration for our designers, engineers and marketing people.”

Additional Resources: `Valuing our Public Lands: Safeguarding our Economy and Way of Life,’

National Wildlife Federation affiliates’ resolution on transfer of public lands.

NWF affiliates’ letter on transfer, sale of public lands.

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FAIRPLAY, Colo. – The decision to offer federal oil and gas leases in South Park – a regional hunting and fishing haven – before updating its planning documents or contacting local officials reinforces the need for the Bureau of Land Management to honor its promise on leasing reforms, conservation groups said Friday.

The BLM will offer six parcels totaling about 2,850 acres in South Park in its February 2013 auction. Some of the parcels include public land withdrawn from a sale last November. Sites up for auction include land near Spinney Reservoir and the Middle Fork of the South Platte River, both gold-medal fisheries, and important big-game summer and winter habitat. The area is also the headwaters of the South Platte River and a major water source for the cities of Denver and Aurora.

“South Park is a unique fish and wildlife resource that offers world-class hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation is less than a two-hour drive from a major metropolitan area,’’ said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

Hunting and angling groups and Park County, at the heart of South Park, questioned why the BLM would offer the leases using a management plan last updated in 1996. The groups, hundreds of area residents and business owners and county officials asked the BLM to do more planning and review before approving new development.

Earlier this year, the BLM rejected developing a master leasing plan for South Park, saying there wasn’t enough interest from energy companies in the area. A master leasing plan is among the reforms the Interior Department unveiled in 2010 and is a landscape-scale analysis to assess potential, cumulative impacts before leases are issued.

The BLM hasn’t responded to Park County’s July 5 letter requesting comprehensive planning “before major energy development changes the face of this special part of the West .’’

“And we didn’t learn of the upcoming lease sale in Park County until it was past the date to make comments,’’ said Tom Eisenman, county administration officer. “It’s kind of insulting.’’

The BLM said North Park in northern Colorado was too developed to use a master leasing plan and South Park wasn’t developed enough, said Bob Meulengracht of Trout Unlimited, the Colorado organizer for Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development.

“We’re waiting for the BLM to follow through on its promise to use this planning tool, which can be helpful to industry as well as local governments and conservation efforts,’’ Meulengracht added.

Park County is spending tens of thousands of dollars and is working with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte to establish baseline data on water quality before oil and gas drilling increases. South Park, like North Park, is a high-elevation basin ringed by mountains that’s being eyed by energy companies for its oil and natural gas deposits. The Niobrara oil formation underlies both areas.

“This is Denver’s watershed, but the BLM’s knowledge of the area’s baseline water quality is weak to nonexistent,’’ said Eddie Kochman, a Park County landowner and retired Colorado state fisheries manager.

The BLM can address questions about effects on water, fish and wildlife by doing a little more planning on the front end, said Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.

“The purpose is to explore the potential impacts and conflicts before leases are sold and drilling permits issued,’’ Zimmerman. “We support well-planned, responsible energy development and avoiding and minimizing the impacts and conflicts while it’s still possible.’’

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Elevenmile Reservoir (connected to, and near, Spinney Mountain Reservoir) is a top destination for Colorado anglers in South Park. Photo: Rich Holland

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