Monday, June 29, 2020

Colorado State Wildlife Areas: New rules and what they mean for all Coloradans

Colorado State Wildlife Areas: New rules and what they mean for all Coloradans

DENVER – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently adopted a rule change, requiring all visitors 18 or older to possess a valid hunting or fishing license to access any State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land leased by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This new rule will be in effect beginning July 1, 2020.

“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 Southeast Regional Manager Brett Ackerman. “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.”

Because these properties have always been open to the public, not just to the hunters and anglers that purchased them and pay for their maintenance, many people visit these properties and use them as they would any other public land. As Colorado’s population - and desire for outdoor recreation - has continued to grow, a significant increase in traffic to these SWAs and STLs has disrupted wildlife, the habitat the areas were acquired to protect, and the hunters and anglers whose contributions were critical to acquiring these properties.

Because funding for these properties is specifically generated by hunting and fishing license sales and the resulting federal match, requested options such as “hiking licenses” or “conservation permits” would not allow for the maintenance and management needed. Any funding from one of these conceptual licenses or permits would reduce the federal grant dollar for dollar and thus fail to increase CPW’s ability to protect and manage the properties.

“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 CPW 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."

“We do anticipate some confusion based on how the properties are funded, and the high amount of unintended use over time in these areas. We plan to spend a good amount of time educating the public on this change,” said Ackerman. “But in its simplest form, it is just as any other user-funded access works. 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.” State law requires that the agency keep these funding sources separated.

CPW is a user-funded agency and, unlike most government agencies, receives very little money from the general fund. The new rule requires all users to contribute to the source of funding that makes the acquisition and maintenance of these properties possible. But the activities that interfere with wildlife-related uses or that negatively impact wildlife habitat don't become acceptable just because an individual possesses a hunting or fishing license. Each SWA and STL is unique and only certain activities are compatible with each property.

Many questions on the new rule are answered through our State Wildlife Area Frequently Asked Questions document. Visit for additional information on agency projects and funding. 

Travis Duncan
Statewide Public Information Officer
720-595-8294 /

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Making the most of a small pond part two: gravel

By Bill Prater
Even before bulldozers, settlers along the rivers and streams of the Colorado quarried rocks and sand for construction of roads and buildings, a process that continues today. Surprisingly, many resulting holes in the ground hold decent populations of fish, and some are open to the public. If you’re looking for a place closer to home to fish, how do you tell the good from the mediocre? You can go from one to another with a pole, of course, but you can improve your odds with advance sleuthing.
As we've talked about elsewhere, Google Earth can help you learn a lot about a body of water without wetting a line, and Fish Explorer and the Colorado Fishing Atlas can provide other insights. But there’s a lot you can do for yourself. (See links below)
Once you’ve identified public waters (and accessible private ponds, if you’re fortunate), scout before you fish. With water as it is in the West, we don’t have many farm ponds like the ones in the Midwest and south, dug with an intention to hold both water and fish. Most of our ponds are old gravel pits shaped like a bathtub, with little variation in depth, and predictably steep banks dropping quickly into deep water. Whether or not they’re worth investing your worms depends on additional factors.  A precious few were finished off with an eye toward making them a fishery; if you’re not near one of those, you can still find ponds with a few islands or humps that once held quarrying machinery. And there may be other irregularities in the bottom due to things like variations in veins of sand and gravel. 
Also, ask around, or check newspaper and other Internet files to see whether the pond has had pollution problems; some sugar cane operations left a nasty legacy, for example, and high tech manufacturers and others left chemicals in their wake that haunt us still. But if you’re finding reasonably clean water, it’s time to look closer. 
Fishing from the bank presents special problems. With little variation in depth or soil type, most around here are lined with cattails, making access difficult. (The flip side of that is, if you can find a way to reach the outside edges of those cattails, your chances of success are multiplied.) The best answer is to fish from a float tube, but that’s not always possible, particularly with kids. Some anglers have stomped down the cattails in places so they can fish; I wouldn’t recommend that, but if a bare spot of shoreline is there, use it. Sometimes a better option is to wear knee boots and locate points of land stretching into the water. Without wading too deep, you may be able to cast parallel to the outside edge of those cattails. You’ll be dropping your lure where both predators and panfish like to hide. Fishing further out in waders can be productive but may be prohibited; that’s tricky anyway because the bottom typically drops off suddenly.
If the water’s murky, it can be difficult to locate the edges of weed beds, which are usually the best and sometimes the only structures in an old pit. Clarity can vary from season to season; check periodically for clearer water and try to spot and memorize the location of weed beds, drop offs, shallow flats. This is not an article on fishing techniques. But let me say that one of the best tools for learning bottom composition and depth is a football jig rigged weedless and fished with fairly heavy tackle. You can feel your way along the bottom and in the process catch a bass or two, if they’re in there.
The real bonus to many of these ponds is, they’re deep enough to maintain at least a seasonal trout fishery, and our friends at Colorado Parks and Wildlife have created good local fisheries. Being an old Midwesterner, I was kind of contemptuous of put-and-take trout for years after I moved here. Then I realized 1. Those fish will bite long before and after warm water species are in near hibernation. 2. If you find the right circumstances, you can find at least a few stockers grown to bragging size.
When you’ve done all this, and think you’ve located one or two ponds with good potential, I wouldn’t blame you for choosing to keep it to yourself. Anyway, that give others the pleasure of discovering the place the way you did.
Colorado Fishing Atlas app

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Making the most of a small pond - Part One

By Bill Prater
Note: As a way to help beginning anglers get through this annoying period in history, has  launched a series of short articles on the basics. This piece of mine on how to assess the quality of local ponds is one of them. Bill 

We have two basic types of manmade ponds in the flatlands of the Rocky Mountain West - one-time gravel pits and ones created by bulldozer as part of a municipal park or subdivision, mostly to look scenic and provide irrigation. Not sure what to call them: how about "landscaped pond?" As we scour the countryside for a good place to fish, let's start by focusing on that second type.

I frequent a 2-acre pond near my home, east of busy soccer fields in a city park. By quirk, it’s hard to spot until you get right on it, which may explain why I am usually the only person there looking for a fish. It’s not a great fishery, but it has a few gullible largemouth, and bluegill best described as “small but sporting.” 
At first glance, it’s indistinguishable from a couple ponds nearby that are virtually fishless. To help tell the difference, start a search on Google Earth. Click here to get it for free. Unlike gravel ponds, generally shaped like a bathtub, landscaped ones more likely follow contours; you want irregularities; small hills, drainage ditches, flats, anything that might extend into the pond. The value of a Google Earth photo varies depending on water clarity, season when it was taken, and other factors. But between Google and walking around the pond, try to spot likely weed beds or other underwater irregularities. 
Again, explore on foot; resist the temptation to immediately throw in a line. 
At this time of year, this pond is a bit murky, visibility maybe a foot and a half. Okay. Spot any weed beds? Maybe not in early spring, but by June or so weed beds should emerge. You’re hoping for coontail, among other things; indicates clean water. You’re hoping not to find “snot weed,” slimy stuff that is the curse of the shorebound angler.
No brush or boat ramps or streams flowing in, but it looks like the developer dropped in some rocks, built a small earthen dam and an incoming drain pipe. For a tiny body of water, that passes as “structure.” The park is also sloped so runoff drains into pond.  
Is pond water used to water the darned soccer fields? That nearby building probably houses irrigation pumps. That sucks, but it’s also typical, using local drainage water to irrigate. It means the water level’s likely to dwindle as summer progresses, and during drought. Not good, so see if you can determine the probable depth of the pond, and whether it might have a deep spot or two where fish can retreat. 
The dam is small, but has small and medium-sized rocks. Those little saucers on either side were probably made by spawning bluegill. A little deeper, there may be similar but larger circles used by bass. Those adults may be small, but you never know.
What else should you look for when assessing a pond for fish? Check Fish Explorer to see if there’s stocking information, or the homeowners’ association. In this case, the pond’s too tiny for that kind of effort. With larger ponds, you may find Colorado Parks and Wildlife records on stocking, which can range from catchable size trout to the juvenile warm water fish like bluegill, bass or catfish.
When you’re finally ready to drop in a line, here’s what you want to learn: 
  • Large or small, cute or homely, can I get any kind of fish to bite? This place may be subject to fishkill, or dominated by non-game species like shad or carp, or stunted green sunfish. It may have a ton of tiny panfish and a few fat predators.
  • Am I at least seeing fish? What kind? Minnows? Crawdads? Both indicate a good food source for bass and catfish.
  • As I move around, am I finding flats, or deeper water? Some spots clearer than others?  Is my bait getting hung in underwater weeds (that’s good) or hung up on rocks (can be good, unless it’s too shallow. 
That’s it. Don’t hope too much for a small pond that gets heavy pressure, but don’t be too pessimistic either. A lot of folks just bait up and hope for the best.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Senate Passes Historic Great American Outdoors Act on an Impressive Vote

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The U.S. Senate has passed the historic Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), which represents the single greatest commitment to increasing public access and advancing conservation in a lifetime, on a strong bipartisan vote of 73-25.
The Great American Outdoors Act will provide $9.5 billion over 5 years to address the crumbling infrastructure on America's public lands and waters. While the National Park Service will receive $6.5 billion in funding, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) led a successful effort to secure the inclusion of $3 billion to repair and maintain public land infrastructure overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which provides critically important recreational opportunities for America's sportsmen and women.
"The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation applauds Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Today's vote demonstrates the bipartisan support for advancing conservation and increasing access for hunters and anglers," said CSF President Jeff Crane. "When signed into law, this bill will provide much needed support for public lands and waters and boost the already formidable outdoor economy. CSF extends our sincere thanks to the Senate Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) members that voted to support these priorities."
The inclusion of funding specifically for BLM, USFWS, and USFS lands and waters will ensure that Americans have the ability to access critically important hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities. Over 246 million acres, or 99%, of BLM lands are open to hunting and fishing while the USFS reports that 99% of the 193 million acres it administers are open to hunting and at least 99% of USFS administered rivers, streams, and lakes are open to fishing. Collectively, BLM, USFWS, and USFS annually support more than 25 million hunting days and nearly 45 million fishing days, highlighting the importance of these lands for America's sportsmen and women as well as the outdoor economy. Additionally, funding for maintenance backlog will create over 100,000 employment opportunities.
The Great American Outdoors Act also provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually. LWCF is one of the most successful and influential conservation programs in our nation's history. As a testament to the impact of LWCF, the program has completed a conservation, recreation, or access project in every single county in the country. S. 3422 also secures $15 million annually to increase public access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
"Years of bipartisan work have led to this moment and this historic opportunity for conservation," said CSC Member Sen. Cory Gardner (CO). "Today the Senate passed not only the single greatest conservation achievement in generations, but also a lifeline to mountain towns and recreation communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. I call on the House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay in order to provide jobs to the American people, economic stimulus to communities in need, and protections for the great American outdoors for future generations of Americans to cherish."
"I'm proud to have worked closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this historic conservation bill. Full and permanent funding for the LWCF is critical so our land management agencies can continue their legacy of conservation and growing opportunities for outdoor recreation. Addressing the daunting deferred maintenance needs in our national parks is long overdue and will ensure all of our public land management agencies can operate fully to maintain and protect the public lands we all cherish. In the Mountain State, we have a rich history and at the center of it is our love and appreciation for the outdoor playground we have been blessed with. The Great American Outdoors Act will guarantee the wild and wonderful corners of West Virginia are protected for generations to come," said CSC Vice-Chair Sen. Joe Manchin (WV). "I've seen firsthand the jobs that the outdoor recreation economy has brought to all areas of West Virginia. At a time of historic unemployment, there is simply no better time than now to pass this much needed legislation. This is a historic achievement for conservation and a testament to the strong, bipartisan work that is still possible when we put politics aside to do what is best for our country."
The Great American Outdoors Act heads to the House for further consideration. The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation strongly encourages sportsmen and women to contact their representatives in the House to urge quick passage of this long overdue legislation as-is without any changes by calling 202-224-3121 or by clicking here.
Since 1989, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted sportsmen's organization in the political arena. CSF's mission is to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. The unique and collective force of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen's Caucus (GSC) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC), working closely with CSF, and with the support of major hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping organizations, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that advance the interests of America's hunters and anglers.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Christina goes all over the map to fish and is well rewarded again

Pelican Ponds at St. Vrain State Park
Image may contain: water and outdoor
Photo: Christina Weiss

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Supports Full Funding of Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

Full and permanent funding of the LWCF supports Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s mission to conserve wildlife and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities.

DENVER -- On June 12, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a resolution voicing support for the secure, long-term and dedicated funding for land and water conservation, wildlife management, parks and outdoor recreation. Full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was subsequently granted on June 17 when the U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422).

The resolution, presented to the CPW Commission by Outgoing Chairwoman Michelle Zimmerman, supported full funding of the LWCF, federal funding to reduce the maintenance backlog on public lands, and respectfully requested the Colorado Congressional Delegation to support federal legislation that achieves these aims. With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, the LWCF is guaranteed to receive the maximum $900 million annual allotment advocated for in the resolution.

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for passing this historic act which supports Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s mission to conserve wildlife and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “As the resolution highlighted, full and permanent funding of the LWCF is key to helping us manage our state parks and shared wildlife resources so that more people can enjoy the outdoors far into the future.”

Colorado uses LWCF federal funds to increase recreational opportunities for citizens and visitors. Since 1965, CPW has provided over 1,025 LWCF state matching grants totaling more than $61 million to fund local government and state park outdoor investments.

The LWCF program was enacted by Congress in 1965 to create parks and open spaces; protect wilderness, wetlands, and refuges; preserve wildlife habitat; and enhance recreational opportunities. Funds are allocated through both a federal program and a state-managed matching grant program and are derived from offshore oil and gas leasing revenues. While the LWCF program can be funded up to $900 million annually, it has only received maximum funding twice in its history prior to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act.

To learn more about the LWCF and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, visit our website at

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.

With the reopening of Perkins it may be possible to resume Friday morning breakfast.

Social distancing rules will be in force and with the reduced capacity Perkins may not be able to accommodate all.

Proceed with caution folks.

From Perkins Website:

To Our Valued Guests:
At Perkins, we take great pride in serving kindness … in good times and challenging times.
In recent weeks, we have ramped up our off-premise dining options with expanded online ordering for delivery or pickup, and new options such as Family Meals and Perkins Market.
As our dining rooms re-open, we are ready to welcome you back and once again host you in our restaurants.  In accordance with CDC and state guidelines, we have enhanced our cleaning and sanitation procedures and implemented limited seating capacity so you can dine in a safe and comfortable environment.  Specific practices may vary by store based on state guidelines and restrictions, but these measures include:
We will continue to evaluate our safety procedures and adjust accordingly.  The safety of our guests and employees remains our top priority.  Please be assured that when you are ready to visit us, we will be ready, and have a table saved, for you.

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting high-traffic touchpoints such as door handles, tables and payment surfaces
  • Spacing out seating areas to allow for social distancing between parties
  • Requiring employees to wear protective masks
  • Implementing minimal-contact curbside pickup
  • Re-training of employees on all food safety practices and enhanced state guidelines on COVID-19
  • Closely monitoring employees for signs of any type of illness and requiring any employee who is ill to stay home

Friday, June 12, 2020

Keep your eyes open for wolves in North Park or Laramie River Valley when you go fishing


Randy Hampton
Northwest Region Public Information Officer
970-640-1647 /


CPW Image - A wolf eats on an elk carcass in northwest Colorado

DENVER, Colo. - With warmer weather and decreasing restrictions, more people are recreating in the outdoors, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeing an increase in the number of sightings of potential wolves in the state.

“Public reporting vastly increases our ability to know what’s happening across the state,” says Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While not all reports end up being verified as wolves, we make every effort to investigate credible sightings through on-the-ground investigations, biological sampling, and deploying a variety of survey techniques.”

There are several known and some additional credible reports of potential wolves in the state at this time.

Wolf “1084M” North Park Update
The lone wolf that was first confirmed in North Park one year ago continues to persist in that area. The male wolf, designated by Wyoming Game and Fish as 1084-M, was collared in the Wyoming Snake River pack and dispersed into Colorado where he was first photographed in July, 2019. CPW pilots regularly fly the area and assist in keeping track of 1084’s movements. On the ground, wildlife managers conduct ground surveillance and communicate regularly with private landowners in Jackson County.

New report in Laramie River Valley  
Wildlife managers are attempting to confirm a credible wolf sighting in the Laramie River Valley in Larimer County. An animal sighted in the area was wearing a wildlife tracking collar, which indicates it is likely a dispersal wolf from monitored packs in Montana or Wyoming, however flights and ground crews have been unable to detect a signal or visually confirm the wolf. It has been determined that the animal in Larimer County is not wolf 1084-M from neighboring Jackson County. If a wolf or wolves are confirmed in Larimer County, they would be the furthest east in Colorado in nearly a century.

New report in Grand County
Two groups of campers in Grand County over the weekend of June 6-7 were surprised to see a large wolf-like animal in the area in very close proximity to their camps. The incidents were reported to CPW. Wildlife officers and biologists responded to the area to gather biological evidence that could be used to confirm the presence of a wolf versus a coyote, lost or escaped domestic dog or domestic wolf-hybrid. Additional searches and monitoring of the area are continuing. Contacts with local animal control officials confirm no missing hybrids in the area. Biological samples were limited. The animal approaching humans so blatantly is atypical wolf behavior so additional work will be needed to fully confirm the animal’s identity. More information will be provided when available.

NW Pack Update
In the very northwest corner of Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff continue to monitor the state’s first known pack of wolves since the 1930s. As many as six wolves have been confirmed in several previous sightings by staff, hunters, and landowners. The pack, originally reported to CPW late last year, has been relatively quiet of late.

Wildlife managers were able to recently capture an image of a lone wolf feeding on an elk carcass in the area. Only one wolf was seen over several different nights so it is unknown if the wolf is a member of the known pack or the animal is a new lone disperser into the area.

Disease tracking
CPW biologists and veterinarians have analyzed scat (feces) samples and determined that several members of the pack in northwest Colorado are positive for eggs of the tapeworm Echinococcus canadensis. This parasite can lead to hydatid disease in wild and domestic ungulates. These tapeworms have been found in wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Hydatid disease has not been widely seen in Colorado but testing has been limited. CPW is increasing monitoring for hydatid disease including collecting and analyzing coyote scat to establish baseline data.

While Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working to monitor wolves, follow up on wolf sighting reports, and track disease, it is important to note that wolves in Colorado remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves are a federally endangered species in Colorado and until that designation changes, all wolf management is under direction of the  federal government. Killing a wolf in Colorado is a federal crime and can be punishable with up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Colorado Parks and wildlife has assembled a Frequently Asked Questions document addressing many issues people are curious about. This can be accessed at:

Campers, landowners, and outdoor recreationists that see or hear wolves in Colorado are encouraged to complete the computer-based wolf sighting form which is available online at If unable to use the online form, sightings can be reported to the nearest CPW office.


These two images from Grand County on June 6 are provided courtesy of Jessica Freeman

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.


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