Opposition grows to new Colorado rule requiring purchase of hunting, fishing license to access some public lands
A lawsuit and a group of hikers, climbers and paddlers are pressuring Colorado Parks and Wildlife to adjust the new rule, which applies to people who aren’t hunting and fishing.
The Colorado Sun
An animal rights group opposed to hunting has sued Colorado Parks and Wildlife over a new rule that requires visitors to buy a hunting or fishing license to access State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands. The lawsuit comes as a diverse group of users of state public lands — hikers, climbers and paddlers — urge Colorado Parks and Wildlife to delay implementation of the new licensing regulation.
The license requirement imposed at the end of June fails to distinguish between residents and visitors who who buy licenses for hunting and fishing and people who might buy the license for non-consumptive uses of public lands like hiking, bird-watching, rafting and stand-up paddling, Friends of Animals argued in lawsuit filed Tuesday in Denver District Court.
CPW passed the new regulation requiring hunting and fishing licenses to access the state’s 350-plus State Wildlife Areas and nearly 240 State Trust Lands in late April after seeing unintended uses on lands meant to protect wildlife. The new regulation comes as the agency sees increasing use by visitors who are not hunting or fishing on lands that are protected for wildlife conservation.
(A fishing license costs $35 for residents and $97 for non-residents. All licenses, except one-day fishing and hunting permits, require a $10 habitat stamp. Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual state parks pass is not valid for accessing State Wildlife Areas.)
Several recreation groups — including Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Mountain Bike Association, American Whitewater, Great Old Broads for Wilderness and Boulder Climbing Community — are urging the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to consider the new rule’s impact on recreation. In a letter to the commission, those groups noted how many State Wildlife Areas are popular for uses beyond hunting and fishing. The groups pointed to places like Bergen Peak in Jefferson County, Dome Rock next to Mueller State Park, the Loma Boat Launch in Fruita and the Buena Vista Whitewater Park as locations that now require users to be licensed to access.
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