The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission gave final approval to fishing regulations for the 2013 fishing season at the Commission’s November meeting in Yuma on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Commissioners started review of big-game hunting regulations and received informational updates on wildlife research projects, financial issues, an agency marketing plan and the Colorado Archery in the Schools Program. Commissioners received a briefing on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Strategic Plan, which is being rewritten to fulfill requirements of legislation that merged the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks last year.
The fishing regulations for the 2013 fishing season, which begins April 1 of next year, were widely unchanged. Anglers will see new regulations extending walleye and saugeye regulations upstream of Lake Pueblo State Park, standardizing regulations below Kenny Reservoir near Rangely and allowing the take of carp at Switzer Lake in Delta County. Commissioners also extended a full fishing closure on Bear Creek in El Paso County. The closure is designed to protect the unique, native population of greenback cutthroat trout found in the creek. Fishing regulations will be updated with production of the 2013 Colorado Fishing brochure, which should be available statewide in February.
Commissioners also began the process of reviewing changes to the big-game regulations for 2013 seasons. Commissioners are considering modifications to the popular late youth elk hunt program. The successful program has put thousands of young hunters into the field since its inception. Originally developed to help address overpopulations of elk on agricultural, private lands in western Colorado, the program is transitioning to continue offering hunting opportunity at a time when elk populations have been reduced to desired long-term levels. If approved by the Commission, late youth elk hunters in 2013 will be able to hunt late seasons in the general area and method of take where their unfilled limited cow or either-sex elk licenses are valid, instead of three large quadrants defined for the 2012 seasons. As part of the changes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff is working to develop proposals to expand youth opportunity in the state by looking at hunting of species beyond just elk.
“This is an issue hunters will want to be aware of as they prepare for next year’s license draw,” said Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Hunters planning to hunt with youth hunters next year should check the Big Game Brochure when it comes out in February for a synopsis of any changes the Commission might approve.”
The Parks and Wildlife Commission received an update on efforts undertaken by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to move water around in parts of the state this past summer. Several agency projects leased unused water to agricultural producers for crop and forage irrigation and to recharge local aquifers.
“We use our water resources to assure that fish and wildlife populations are protected in the state,” said Steve Yamashita, Northeast Region Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “In this drought year we were able to help our neighbors by providing access to much needed resources in a way that helped maintain wildlife but also filled gaps for the agricultural community.”