Colorado Parks Commission Now Requires License for Hiking on Park Land

Colorado is treating hikers the same as anglers and hunters on some state land. (Photo: CPW/ Alexis Ambrosino)

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission now requires that everyone using State Wildlife Areas, or leased State Trust Land, possess a hunting or fishing license first. The move is to cover the cost of park land maintenance.

Prior to the rule, only people looking to hunt or fish on the state-held properties needed licensing, but due to the increase in hikers and other land-users, the commission expanded the licensing requirement to all.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages over 350 State Wildlife Areas and holds leases on nearly 240 State Trust Lands in Colorado, which are funded through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses,” said Brett Ackerman, a regional manager with the state commission. “The purpose of these properties is to conserve and improve wildlife habitat, and provide access to wildlife-related recreation like hunting and fishing that are a deep part of Colorado’s conservation legacy.”

Colorado’s population is growing steadily and so has demand for use of these park lands. With more and more people using the wildlife areas and trust lands there’s more foot traffic disrupting habitats and affecting hunting and fishing spaces.

The funds will be used to protect and conserve these wildlife areas and trust lands. (Photo: CPW/Justin Krauth)

With these outdoors enthusiasts directly affecting fish, game, and wildlife habitats, it makes some sense for the commission to require hunting or fishing permits in order to use these wildlife areas and trust lands. Particularly since the state was able to purchase or lease and maintain these properties with money raised through hunting and fishing licenses in the first place.

Some groups argued for hiking or conservation licensing or fees for users, but the state insisted that users purchase hunting and fishing licenses in order to ensure that the money raised would be used to protect and maintain these specific wildlife resources. State law requires the separation of park and wildlife conservation funds.

The federal government also matches state funding in order to protect these wildlife areas. By requiring fishing and hunting licenses, the state can secure increased federal funding over would-be hiking permits.

“This new rule change will help our agency begin to address some of the unintended uses we’re seeing at many of our State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow. “We have seen so much more non-wildlife related use of these properties that we need to bring it back to the intended use–conservation and protection of wildlife and their habitat.”

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“We do anticipate some confusion based on how the properties are funded, and the high amount of unintended use over time in these areas,” added Ackerman. “We plan to spend a good amount of time educating the public on this change.”

“But in its simplest form, it is just as any other user-funded access works,” he continued. “You cannot use a fishing license to enter a state park, because the park is not purchased and developed specifically for fishing. Similarly, you cannot use a park pass to enter lands that are intended for the sole purpose of wildlife conservation, because a park pass is designed to pay for parks.”

As a bonus, it’s possible that by requiring users to purchase fishing or hunting licenses, these people may become recreational anglers or hunters as well. In any case, the more people aware of the wildlife that surrounds them the better.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Big Al 45 July 10, 2020, 9:25 am

    Yeah, once again the Parks and Wildlife want more money. It’s about time though.
    Before it was ‘Parks and Wildlife’, they were separate and then became one so they could steal money from Hunters and Fisherman for all the damn hikers and campers mucking up the State. And yes, I stand by that statement.
    They need a permit system for hikers, bikers and off roaders (and yes I am two or more of those) for land usage.
    It’s time these freeloaders pay their way.
    As it is, they don’t pay a dime. Time to pay up or stop using and destroying our lands.

  • John fitts July 9, 2020, 4:22 pm

    Great idea. About time. Hunters and fishers have shouldered the burden too long.

  • Sanders July 7, 2020, 4:08 pm

    A lot of people come from all over the world to hike Colorado. Does this also mean they are required to purchase out-of-state fishing and hunting licenses to visit?

    This could backfire, as folks may just stick to national forests for their hiking instead of having to pay what pretty much looks like a shakedown just to take a walk.

    I have no problem with hunting and fishing licenses. With them, I know that if I do my part, I will get something in return, and without them, game would be wiped out in a matter of months. What does a hiker get out of it, except for maybe some Ooooh’s and Aaaaaah’s?

  • Fred July 7, 2020, 1:21 pm

    Some irony here I think. The anti sportsman crowd has been trying to push us off of public lands for ages. Now that hunting and fishing license sales are down, the folks who were against it, now have to pay the freight if they want access the wilderness. I guess it is about time they pay.

    Maybe some of them will realize how much sport licensing has contributed to habitat and game management.

  • Jim Parker July 7, 2020, 9:09 am

    Whether or not you agree with the policy, the key is to remain engaged with the agencies if you plan to have any impact. Without them knowing who you are and what you want, they’ll keep on doing what they do.

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