Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Jordon DePriest attaches a State Trust Land sign at the Blue Lake property in Arlington, Colorado. Starting September 1, new properties will be accessible by hunters and anglers thanks to CPW’s Public Access Program.
Colorado hunting access expands for 2019 season: Colorado Parks and Wildlife announces the locations of newly available acreage for sportsmen/women
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Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff today announced the locations of newly available properties enrolled in the Public Access Program effective September 1. The Public Access Program provides seasonal hunting and fishing opportunities on Colorado trust land across the state.
Blue Lake – 41,564 acres – Arlington, CO (Southeast Colorado)
Queens – 9,020 acres – Eads, CO (Southeast Colorado)
Pawnee Valley – 2,720 acres – Sterling, CO (Northeast Colorado)
Brett Gray Ranch – 23,878 acres – Rush, CO (Open September 1 for dove hunting. CPW expects additional hunting opportunities will be available later this fall.)
The Colorado Hunting Atlas is an interactive map that depicts all trust land enrolled in the Public Access Program.
The expansion of the Public Access Program was approved in July 2019 by the Parks and Wildlife Commission and the State Land Board as part of a multi-year effort to double the size of the Public Access Program from 480,000 acres to up to one million acres. This is the first major expansion of the program since it began in 1993.
“Colorado is known for our incredible natural beauty, and I’m committed to expanding the public’s access to and enjoyment of our treasured state and federal land. CPW’s Public Access Program for sportsmen and women is growing just in time for the upcoming 2019 hunting season. We will continue looking at more opportunities to increase access and help relieve overcrowded areas,” said Governor Jared Polis.
Prior to this expansion, the majority of properties enrolled in the Public Access Program were located in Northwestern Colorado where there is prime big game hunting. CPW is providing a broader array of hunting opportunities on trust lands by expanding the program in Eastern Colorado where bird hunting and small game hunting is prevalent.
The Public Access Program is one of several ways hunters and anglers can get out in Colorado: Colorado spans 66.6 million acres and 23 million acres of public land is available for hunting.
Additionally, three million acres of land in Colorado are called trust lands and have been held in a trust since statehood in 1876 for the purpose of funding public schools. The State Land Board earns money for schools from trust lands by leasing the land for a variety of purposes, including hunting and recreation. Ninety-eight percent of trust land is leased for agriculture. More than one-third will be enrolled in the Public Access Program due to this expansion over the next three years.
Public access for wildlife-related recreation on trust lands is made possible through the Public Access Program, which is a lease agreement between the State Land Board and CPW. CPW will fund the new acreage opened to public access through hunting and fishing license fee increases approved by the General Assembly in 2018 in the “Future Generations Act.” In total, trust land leases have earned $1.4 billion for Colorado public schools in the past decade and have been the primary funding source for the Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today program.
“Hunters and anglers are a critical foundation to wildlife conservation,” said Dan Prenzlow, CPW director. “They make significant contributions to our local economy, especially rural economies. It’s an added benefit that our Public Access Program helps fund Colorado school kids.”
“I’m glad that hunters and anglers will have more access to state trust lands in Colorado this season, and I’m grateful for the cooperation we’ve gotten from the ranchers and farmers who already lease these properties for agriculture,” said Greg Ochis, State Land Board Assistant Director. “These leasing activities stimulate the local economies and also help generate money for Colorado school kids.”
Trust lands enrolled in the Public Access Program are open to a variety of wildlife-related uses, primarily hunting and fishing. Nearly all of the properties enrolled in the Public Access Program are also working ranches leased for agriculture, and hunters are expected to respect the existing agriculture operations. For hunter safety, wildlife protection, and the integrity of the land, the public must follow the rules and regulations at each property enrolled in the program. Unauthorized activity on trust lands is subject to enforcement. Hunters and anglers must check the rules and regulations for each property enrolled in the program; timing and use restrictions vary.
In 2020, CPW will announce the locations of additional properties that will be enrolled in the Public Access Program prior to the 2020 fall hunting season.
A herd of pronghorn at the Pawnee Valley property in Sterling.
The Blue Lake property in Arlington.
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.