COLORADO SPRINGS — Come July, anyone 18 years or older will need to possess a valid hunting or fishing license to access any State Wildlife Area (SWA) or State Trust Land (STL) in Colorado.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently adopted the rule change, which will go in to effect on July 1, 2020.
“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."
Because these properties have always been open to the public, and not just hunters and anglers, people have used them just like they would any other public land. CPW said that as Colorado's population continues to grow, SWAs and STLs have seen a significant increase in traffic and it has disrupted wildlife, habitat, and the hunters and anglers whose contributions were critical in the state acquiring the properties.
“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,” Southeast Regional Manager Brett Ackerman said. “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, it receives very little money from the general fund. This new rule requires all users to contribute to the source of funding that makes the acquisition and maintenance of these properties possible.
You can find more information on this rule change here: State Wildlife Area Frequently Asked Questions