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By Randy Hampton
Special to The SUN
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the 2014 fishing regulations and took other regulatory action during its November meeting in Lamar.
Commissioners also began the two-step process of setting general regulations for 2014, including a potential ban on the use of drones for hunting or scouting in Colorado.
The newly adopted fishing regulations for 2014 will take effect with the April 1, 2014 start of the fishing license year. The new regulations add tiger trout and cutbow to the list of game fish in the state and apply daily bag and possession limits for those species. The regulations also restrict fishing methods and harvest on designated cutthroat trout conservation waters in the state. New regulations also seek to encourage harvest by removing bag and possession limits on brown trout on the Dolores River below the Bradfield Bridge, for yellow perch at Spinney Mountain Reservoir and for walleye in Stagecoach Reservoir.
Commissioners also set the 2014 regulations for turkey hunting in the state. The changes approved include regulations opening private-land hunting in GMUs 91 and 92 to over-the-counter in the spring; adding youth-only spring turkey licenses in GMUs 91, 92, 96, 101 and 102; add private-land-only spring bearded turkey licenses in GMU 444.
In other action, commissioners approved the 2014 commission meeting calendar, which included elimination of monthly meetings in February and October as part of the effort to reduce spending. Additional spending cuts were discussed that will help Colorado Parks and Wildlife trim the agency budget by $9.9 million beginning in fiscal year 2014, which begins next July.
Commissioners also approved the final “Path Forward” document, a strategic planning document for Colorado Parks and Wildlife that will be provided to the legislature as part of the requirements of the legislation that merged Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Path Forward report was built through an extensive public input process and identifies the important items ahead for the agency. Information about the path forward process is available online.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife hunter education staff provided commission members with an update on national trends in hunter education and discussed possible improvements to the Colorado hunter education program. A survey of recent hunter education graduates in Colorado will be analyzed in December, but initial results show high satisfaction by program graduates. Potential changes to the hunter education program will be further analyzed and discussed with a final proposal back to the Commission in March 2014. Colorado statutes require anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949 to complete a hunter education class prior to buying or applying for a hunting license in Colorado. The statute was implemented in the 1970s and has dramatically reduced hunter injuries and fatalities in the state. With more than 300,000 hunters every year in the state, hunting ranks as one of the safest forms of outdoor recreation.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks and wildlife programs. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meets monthly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. The commission is scheduled to hold meetings in Denver, Salida, Grand Junction, Alamosa, Meeker, Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Burlington and Colorado Springs in 2014.
Members of the public who are unable to attend Parks and Wildlife Commission meetings or workshops can listen to the proceedings online. To access the live audio feed during the meeting, click on the “listen to live audio” link at the bottom of the commission webpage.